I must confess that I haven’t been in a “very light” mood this week. It’s a combination of PMS, a pesky chest cold, and the manner in which they catapult my blood glucose to the stratosphere, stuck no matter how many tears I dry or units I bolus. It’s diabetes at its most vindictive: Ha! Your bazooka-bolus will drop you a whopping TEN mg/dL! This in turn causes me to feel badly about my irrational BG “failures,” as well as my subsequent grumpiness. I tried to take a Twitter hiatus as the Catholic grammar school mantra, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it,” rang in my ears. I woke up the next day to a few private messages from well-wishers (thank you- you know who you are), and I realized that instead of hibernating on Twitter perhaps I should open myself up to that support. After all, it’s the signature of the online communities that I have grown to love.
#BellLetsTalk tweets and blog posts inspired me during my figuratively “extra dark coffee, loaded with sugar” musings. It is humbling to see that so many people worldwide shared their deeply personal stories during this Canadian mental health effort, and by doing so they inspired others to seek support and to perhaps share their own stories, too. #BellLetsTalk celebrates these strong, courageous souls. I could feel the societal stigma lifting as I perused their words, felt their pain as a fellow human being, and admired their strength.
When Sophie- the talented blogger of Writing Possibility whose honesty and eloquence in writing make her one of my favorites in the #doc- invited me to participate in the Take Back What’s Yours campaign, I knew that this was an opportunity to empower myself during a week where diabetes was making me feel especially vulnerable. Take Back What’s Yours is an effort launched by Chloe’s Concept encouraging readers to take back something good that may have been lost along the way during life’s tribulations, such as a hobby that brought joy or a sense of hope. If you feel so inclined, please join us in taking back what’s yours. Let’s celebrate ourselves in the spirit of #BellLetsTalk and #TakeBackWhatsYours.
Here’s what’s mine, and I’m taking it back:
Note: You’ll get the gist of it as you read each paragraph, but in certain circumstances I am “taking back” in the sense of regaining my footing with something I have struggled with. I am taking it back in that I am conceding that it happened, but I will not allow it to occur anymore if possible. In other circumstances, I am “taking back” positive things that I have lost sight of recently. While the hashtag’s meaning may have been slightly altered for purposes of this blog post, I think the theme of #TakeBackWhatsYours is still alive and well here. This is the best way that I can express the hashtag in terms of my individual trials in life.
1.) From a point-forward basis, I am taking back the nights that I went to bed hungry as an employed, educated American woman. I have been blessed enough by my current circumstances in life to be able to put food on the table; now it’s time to enjoy it again. I do not fit the stereotype of a starving child in a third world country far away from here, but I have been far too familiar with hunger due to the aftermath of faulty insulin pump sites and the fears running rampant in my own mind. Food is not the enemy. Insulin is not the bad guy. And I am fully capable of doing this, no matter how scary it seems. I will not go to bed hungry any longer. This means I must make some concessions: bolus larger amounts of insulin before bed; eat when my blood sugar is higher than I would prefer for it to be going into a meal; learn that it is okay to see some slightly-skewed blood sugars during this time of growing; share my story in case someone out there is hungry for the same reasons.
2.) I am taking back the “set in stone,” predefined amounts of insulin that have so dictated my dosing for many years. Each day with diabetes is different, and insulin needs to reflect this. I will be more flexible. I will email my doctor about the mini-successes. I will celebrate them. And I will pledge to keep trying. If the dose misfires, well, I have enough experience to know how to handle it by now.
3.) I am taking back feeling guilty about my feelings. From day one of creating this blog, I promised to be authentic, and I believe that I have been. Sometimes the #nofilter thing makes me feel like I’m wearing my emotions on my sleeve too much, but I wouldn’t be me if my sleeves weren’t a little dirty. I am taking back being too hard on myself for a tweet that I perceived as overly-cranky or for fear of annoying others. We all annoy someone at some point at some time. If we are in the wrong, we can apologize and move forward. But if we walk the line of keeping too much to ourselves, we aren’t allowing others in as much as we should be.
4.) I am taking back my former joys and living in the moment. I will recognize that I am more than diabetes and health care advocacy. While these are enormous passions of mine, I also need to take some time for myself to try new things and to chill out with my own thoughts. Always being on the go and jumping head first into the next project are qualities that have helped me to succeed, but reading a book for pleasure or grabbing a beer after work with friends on a Wednesday night are also ways in which I can obtain happiness. There doesn’t always have to be a goal: an A1C target, a certain GPA, a defined objective measurement of success. Instead, there can be some down time to relax, to connect with the people around you, and to be present in life. It is fine to be hardwired to “busy and productive mode,” but setting aside a few hours a week for other enjoyments is crucial to long-term health and happiness.
5.) I am taking back my ability to allow others in to help. As a diabetes-induced defense mechanism, I have handled things on my own for a while now. When friends try to help, I’m initially willing to talk their ears off about diabetes, but by the end of it, I’m usually saying things I don’t mean to say out of frustration. The more open I become, the more vulnerable I feel, and the more I can’t seem to come to grips with it. For the sake of my relationships, this nonsense has to stop. As much as I want to act tough and invincible, the reality is that there will be times where diabetes has a strong hold over me. Why not accept the support others are so generously trying to give me, even after I have pushed them away? These are clearly goodhearted people, and I should be counting my blessings instead of running from them.