Tag Archives: diabetes and change

Diabetes, the Great Provocateur Can Make You Better

One of the reasons I look at a diabetes diagnosis as tragic is that it’s going to immediately prod at and expose all your weaknesses. You’ll suffer more than another person who lacks as much discipline as you, who also doesn’t have supportive family or friends, and you’ll particularly suffer if you are short on agency (and many of us raised in the last 30 years are, in my opinion). This is precisely the same reason diabetes can make you better at all you do because by knowing your weaknesses and having very clear motivations, you can actually improve yourself considerably.

A diabetes diagnosis is a great opportunity which is hoisted upon you forcefully and not meeting it head-on spells out a certain kind of doom. It’s undoubtedly harsh.

If you’re not organized, your diabetes management skills will constantly be undermined by your lack of preparedness and routine structure involving your supplies, medications, and activities.

If you don’t have peaceful relationships, you’ll be distracted from a big priority you have–your immediate and longterm wellbeing via blood sugar management.

If you lack financial resources, you’re going to be extremely challenged by a diabetes diagnosis and will have even greater financial strain. You’ll feel resentful towards your diagnosis because instead of affording x you now have to use that money for diabetes a-z.

If you lack agency, you will struggle to take responsibility for your life and may feel like a victim of diabetes and in many cases avoid doing all within your power to stay very healthy and manage diabetes successfully.

If you lack supportive people in your life, you’re going to feel lonelier than ever by living with a condition that makes you do unnatural things like give injections, draw blood with a lancing device, or save your own life with a substance you otherwise try to avoid or limit and/or carefully cover with insulin.

If you can’t defer gratification and have some self-discipline, your blood sugars are most likely going to be all over the place. Then you’ll feel bad, suffer at work and in your relationships, acquire anxiety and depression, and start a spiraling descent. Others will have the same character flaws as you but won’t be plummeting and you’ll be very tempted to blame everything on your diabetes.

If you are already depressed or anxious, a diabetes diagnosis is going to put a bucket of salt on your wound and make it that much harder to get out of bed in the morning.

I could go on but you understand. That’s because none of us is perfect and we all have something we’d like to improve about ourselves. And we all know how that something hurts our diabetes management. If we have too many of these challenges, then diabetes becomes unbearable to deal with. Your challenges were steep before? Now try surmounting them with this severe agitator compounding each and every struggle.

No, it’s not fair.

But it’s the reality and you’ve not got time to dwell on how unfair it is. We get nowhere unless we face reality and so I think that if you can manage to embrace a diabetes diagnosis and look at it as the beginning arc of your hero’s journey, you stand a very good chance of using diabetes as a trigger to finally tend to some bad habits or things you’ve been neglecting about yourself. Rise up to meet the new reality. Is it time to actually lose the weight? Use diabetes as one of your motivators. Have you lacked self-responsibility and maturity? Now you’re going to grow up. Diabetes can serve as a catalyst. It’s so bad that you’re going to act and propel yourself forward and up, up, up.

Even if you were diagnosed 20 years ago, you can still decide to one day make diabetes be ruled by you instead of the other way around. You’re going to use discipline, you’re not going to make any more excuses, you’re going to be in control of your actions and thoughts, you’re going to work hard, you’re going to be determined, you’re going to dig deep and show yourself what you’re made of. Diabetes may provoke your weaknesses, but that means you get the chance to face and conquer them. You stand to lose if you don’t but don’t focus on that–you stand to gain so much! Jot down exposed weaknesses and tackle them one by one.

One day you’ll look back and see that what you can do actually surpasses the actions of those who haven’t been challenged by one of the most silently gruesome and exhausting chronic illnesses out there.

To be successful with this condition, those weaknesses must be addressed and dealt with. You’ve been chosen to stop at a fork in the road and either fall into some guaranteed level of misery or live really healthy and be amazing in terms of what you can get yourself to accomplish. Not a lot of grey area may exist for you or me but great things lie ahead if we let type 1 diabetes change us for the better.

Man or Woman in the Mirror

Photo courtesy of Healing Dream

Photo courtesy of Healing Dream


The most effective diabetes advocacy is how we live our lives as people with diabetes.

Years ago, after many years of bitterness and anger, I realized the best thing I could do for other people with diabetes was to take care of myself the best I could and be kind. I wondered if my example could set off a chain reaction of sorts. I hoped someone would meet me and find out I had type 1 diabetes. I hoped they might notice my gentle sincerity and my slow but sharp wit. I hoped they would think to themselves, “she has diabetes? gee, she looks healthy”. I’d tell them a little about diabetes and they would listen. I would then imagine that maybe some day when that same person was involved in a conversation about diabetes and someone said that diabetics were sick and lazy, this person who met me might say, “That’s not true, I met a type 1 diabetic who seemed really healthy and happy and explained to me that the disease is extremely difficult to manage. She told me that everyone struggles differently with it and that what helps people with diabetes is not to judge them but to encourage and support them.”

Yes, I am dreaming. But I prefer to dream big.

And of course I am committed to pushing for what people with diabetes deserve and for advocating for our rights. However, our greatest influence comes from our actions. The energy we spend on anger and frustration over other people is energy we could have spent on ourselves. And you know as well as I do, diabetes requires every ounce of energy we’ve got.

When you want to tell someone off for an ignorant comment about diabetes, stop and remember that telling them off will not help the rest of us in any way. Rude behavior will make other diabetics look bad and I for one don’t want that association. Be firm, be direct, be insistent, but be respectful. After all, we are all ignorant about something, right?

Instead of focusing on all the obstacles in your way, narrow your view to all that you CAN do. You’ll find there are so many mountains you can move.

Relax, breathe, and remember that change begins with you (and I) and the greatest inspiration we can provide others is to work hardest on the man or woman in the mirror.