The topic for today is What Brings Me Down. May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope?
Being a t1D sucks. We all know that. I’ve been living with it for 30 years. I could probably write a list of things that bring me down so long that I’d still be here writing it 30 years from now.
What I didn’t realize until three years ago was how much it hurts to be a person who loves a person with T1D.
It was about this time of year, we had celebrated my nieces first birthday about 4 months earlier and her brother’s third birthday had just passed. I was over at my brother’s hanging out with him and my sweeties, who as of now are the closest things I have to children. My brother says to me, ” I think she has diabetes.” I look at him in disbelief and sluff it off (him and I can be both be a little paranoid about health issues at times). I respond, “Why would you think that?”
“She’s really been going though a lot of diapers.”
“Nah, I don’t think so, you are probably paranoid. Just take her to the doctor and find out for sure.”
The next day at work my cell phone rings and it’s him. Why is he calling me in the middle of the work day? My brother is not a “call and chat” kind of guy.
(I am tearing up as I try to relive this phone call…)
Through tears, he tells me her blood is 18. I try to reason with him. “Maybe she had a big breakfast? Maybe it was a mistake. Check it again.”
I went through so many emotions. I wrote about it last year http://wp.me/p359TO-e
Clearly until three years ago, I only knew and felt that I was the one with the illness. I was the one feeling the lows, getting pricked and poked, being controlled and so on that I never really quite understood until I felt it myself how much it hurt when someone you love so much is diagnosed with this life altering illness. Someone so small and precious. When I think about what brings me down the most about diabetes it’s that she has it. She has to feel all the feelings that we all know so well. Her brother has to wrap his little boy mind around it and her parents haven’t had a full nights sleep in three years. For some reason I can deal with the fact that I have had to live this life but as much as I try to be positive about everything and know that she will be fine too, I still hate (hate is a strong word but hey, if the shoe fits) that anyone especially my niece has to deal with this. Hasn’t my family been through enough with me?
As I write this though, I think of this community and I know that you all feel the same way. There are people in this community who have more than one child with D. Parents who have D and also have children with D. It just doesn’t seem fair! I guess that is the mystery of life. And now that I am super bummed from thinking and writing about this, I have to switch my thinking around. That’s how I cope. I have to find gifts even though it’s not fair. Dealing with life on life’s terms and accepting that this is how it is and that I can either make the best of it or let it swallow me whole.
Why not my family? Why not me? Everyone in this big ol’ world has something to deal with.
And although the cure is not here yet the advances in technology have come a long way and complications in T1Ds are declining. So to cope, I count the days blessings and not the days worries as much as possible. I realize that I have an opportunity to be a role model to my niece. I want her to see that people with D are normal (mostly haha), and can do ANYTHING their hearts desire. I want her to see a healthy diabetic who lives a long amazing life, who is happy and doesn’t let D bring her down. But I also want her to know that it’s ok to not be ok and to be sad sometimes too because that is normal. She inspires me to take the best care of myself as possible.
There are many ways to cope with feeling down, but sometimes the best way is just to feel the feelings and not always try to run away from them. Usually they pass just like dark clouds and the sun always comes out again.