This would stop me but maybe not you. Photo courtesy of Tom Curtis.
Something I’ve always struggled to understand is how some people manage to be so productive. Life gets in everyone’s way so how do some people charge through that better than others?
I made really good grades in school up until my last two years of High School when I struggled more with my diabetes or perhaps with myself. Then I barely made it! I graduated because my kind Advanced Government teacher gave me a test with one question on the last day of school that went like this, “How does one be a good citizen?” I answered it on a blank sheet of paper laid up against the wall of the school office and I scribbled my long answer with a dying pen while standing, propping one foot up on a stool. She looked at me with genuine concern and said, “You’re a smart girl, you just need a break and some time to figure out what you want.” Wow she was psychic! Anyway, she knew I wouldn’t have a hard time answering the question on my “test” which I “aced” and she pretty much swooped me up and carried me to my graduation with her charity. I felt that I could have made straight A’s if I wasn’t so depressed about my diabetes. I love learning, dang it! I wondered for a long time. What went wrong? I did other things despite diabetes, why couldn’t I just do my homework? Well, I guess life just got in the way.
About 8 years later my type 1 diabetic sister, Ana, graduated High School a valedictorian leaving me absolutely dumbfounded. How did she do it? I mean, I felt it was impossible at the time and I thought it had to do with my diabetes, so how did she do it and make it look so easy? Part of me was worried people would compare she and I and then look at me as if to say, “So the diabetes ISN’T an excuse, eh?”
Years later I began to realize that life gets in everyone’s way only this manifests itself differently for everyone. Some people struggle with their weight, others struggle with grades, some can’t keep their house clean, others are crabby people, some abuse alcohol, etc, etc.
What I’ve come to learn about my own diabetes is that it doesn’t prevent me from doing things. It simply aggravates any task I want to accomplish. Depending on how motivated I am to complete that task, I either push through despite my diabetes or I don’t.
When I look back and try to imagine my life without diabetes, I feel like I would have had many of the same struggles. Because fundamentally I’m the same person. I would have still been messy, complicated, sensitive, and into learning about health. When my sister was diagnosed with diabetes before me, I read for hours in the library about diabetes and found it was easy. And at that time you couldn’t get me to read a book about math or history if you paid me to do it.
It helps me psychologically speaking, to remember that the hardship I endure is largely life getting in the way, or something rather natural. Because if some diabetics are doing marathons, flying planes, bravely studying their passion of studio art in college, and getting doctorates, this means diabetes doesn’t stop us from anything. I think diabetes helps blur the line for us. The line between what we don’t really want to do and what we think diabetes isn’t allowing us to do. In other words, diabetes may just be the greatest excuse of our lives.
This was hard for me to deal with at first but now it’s liberating. I didn’t want to just take responsibility for my own downfalls. Now I can think, “Oh thank goodness, so I was depressed and completely unmotivated for school during the last two years of High School. It wasn’t my diabetes.” Well…not 100% anyway. Now I just think “life gets in the way” because we’re all meant to fine tune our interests and desires until we get where we’re supposed to be. The path of uncertainty surely doesn’t make this easy and yes, diabetes adds a major dramatic flair and struggle to one’s story.
But, isn’t it comforting to know that having diabetes doesn’t dictate whether we’re straight A students or not?