Tag Archives: fear

Diabetes in Art

This semester, I’m taking Intermediate Painting and I love it. It’s nice to have time already set aside to just paint whatever I want. Anyway, I usually paint with acrylics, but I decided to use oils this semester, which I have almost no experience with. I immediately fell in love with them and now I’m not sure if I can ever go back to acrylics! One of the reasons I love this class so much is because we’re free to paint whatever we want, as long as we have at least six paintings done by the end of the semester. However, our paintings need to have a theme that links them all together to some extent. I didn’t have to really think about what I wanted to do, because I already decided over the summer. Ever since Diabetes Art Day last year, I realized that I enjoy using diabetes as a subject for my art work. It’s really relieving and sometimes even empowering. Lately, I’ve been feeling really determined to make paintings that are reflections of my life with Type 1. I explained to my professor that over the past year, I’ve felt dissatisfied with a lot of my painting ideas because I didn’t think they were meaningful enough to create a painting around. I wanted my paintings to get a little deeper and be a little more thought-provoking, so I thought, hey, diabetes is a huge part of my life, and it’s definitely a deep topic because it’s so personal. I know it will be tough, but I decided to do it.

One of the things I’m a little worried about is that I won’t effectively get the message across. I’d really like viewers to have a good idea of what I was feeling when I painted a certain piece. Because it’s so intimate and personal, it’s kind of hard to lay out my thoughts and fears on canvas so openly, knowing that people are going to look at it and critique it. I’ve already been mentally preparing to detach myself from my work, otherwise I know I’ll be offended on the inside if someone doesn’t get it or like it. At the beginning of the semester, I had a discussion with my professor about how direct the paintings should be. We agreed that they should be pretty subtle. I don’t want someone to look at one of the paintings and be like oh, it’s about diabetes. I want them to spend time thinking about what it could mean, and then once they figure out or learn what it’s about, they can reflect on the subject and see what a seemingly simple thing can mean to a diabetic. Individually, it will probably be hard to tell that the painting is about diabetes, but as a whole series, it will be a little clearer once some connections can be made between all the pieces.

Another reason I decided to do this series is that I knew it would help increase diabetes awareness. While I’m working in class, my classmates ask me about what I’m working on, and I explain to them how I want to create reflections of my life with diabetes. Two days ago, one student told me about how his dad also has diabetes and he could see how my painting worked with the theme. Once I finish all the paintings, I really hope to have them displayed in a show somewhere so more people can see them. I will also share them with all of you on here :] So far I’ve finished one piece and have started a second and you can see parts of them here:

If you have any ideas or suggestions for my future paintings, please share!! I would love to hear what you guys think :]

Does Having Diabetes Make You Shy?

This is another post by contributing author, Ana Morales.

Have you ever taken the well-known Myers Briggs personality test? I’ve taken it a few times and it has never failed to reveal that I’m an introverted person. I’ve known this about myself even before I took the test, however, and sometimes I wonder how much having diabetes has influenced this part of me. Since I was diagnosed when I was only 3, there’s no doubt that it played a role in my development as an individual. While some people may have enjoyed the attention that came with being a diabetic, I didn’t. In elementary school I had to walk to the office every day before lunchtime to check my blood sugar level and report it to one of the staff members. If it was low they would send me to lunch early and I would have to sit with people I didn’t know, so it got to the point where if I was low, I would lie about it in order to avoid going to lunch early.

Outside of school, I was involved in extra-curricular activities such as soccer, choir, dance, and art classes. I often neglected to check my blood sugar during these times because I didn’t want people watching me or giving me that horrified look when I drew blood from my finger. Over the years I’ve met several people who can hardly stand to look at needles or blood, let alone watch me do something to myself that involved both. I became self-conscious and felt that I should prevent these people from feeling uncomfortable around me and just not prick my finger or give my shots in front of them. If there was a bathroom or otherwise secluded spot available nearby, I would retreat there to do what I had to do without any sort of audience. Sometimes this luxury was not available though, and this is where I put others before my own needs and simply waited until I was alone. Not too long ago I finally realized that this is no way to take care of myself. I still struggle with pricking my finger and giving shots in public sometimes, but not nearly as much as I used to.

Even with some of the people who were closest to me, I couldn’t seem to not be shy about my diabetes sometimes. It didn’t help that some of them treated my diabetes like it really wasn’t a big deal at all. This hurt me in a way that I don’t even know how to describe; after all, I’ve been dealing with not just this disease, but the thoughts of what could happen in the future because of it for the past 16 years. Even though it hurt me, I couldn’t bring myself to say anything to them and make them understand because I felt like I would come off as overdramatic and uptight and it would somehow taint the relationship I had with them. I truly regret not doing anything now. As a diabetic, you have to learn to stand up for yourself and not expect everyone to automatically understand what you’re going through. It took me a while to learn that.

As I’ve been writing this I realized that another thing that has prevented me from being less shy about my diabetes is the fact that I’m not as informed about it as I could be. I think that part of it is due to my sister Sysy’s diligence with learning everything she can about it. In a way I’ve taken advantage of this and never looked into the disease myself. As a result I feel that I can’t accurately explain to people what’s going on with me sometimes. While I should’ve started learning about what I have more thoroughly a long time ago, it’s never too late to start. If you’re in the same situation, take the initiative to learn all you can about diabetes because it’s a big part of your life! Reading the articles on this website is a great start :).

I definitely still don’t have perfect control, but it always helps me to think about how taking care of myself now will hopefully ensure a healthier future for me. As a shy person even outside of having diabetes, I have to be extra stern when it comes to doing things that may draw attention to myself and not let that stop me from doing what I need to do. So, what can you do if your diabetes makes you a little shy and prevents you from doing what you need to? Here’s a list to get you started:

1. Become informed! Learn about the disease that you have and share this information with your loved ones and other people in your life whenever you’re presented with the chance. Having the support of others makes dealing with diabetes SO much easier.
2. Keep your priorities straight. To put it simply, learn when you have to put your needs before others’ and when you don’t.
3. Speak up! You know your body better than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to sound a little harsh if that’s what going to make someone understand how important it is to take care of yourself. If they really love you, they won’t leave you because of it.

And remember, it’s not a bad thing to be shy, just don’t let fear take over your life! You’ll be glad you didn’t.