Practicing what I preach

My sister is angry about being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Do you remember being angry when you were diagnosed?

I assume it’s a common reaction. Assumptions – although necessary at times – are often incorrect. Therefore, I’m testing that assumption of mine.

As for myself, I don’t recall being angry – not initially. I do remember being in denial a week after being discharged from the hospital. That didn’t last.

Stone cold reality refuted my delusion of having complete pancreatic functionality. I soon accepted the circumstances I found myself in, and went with the flow.

At some point I began fighting against the current.

Loneliness. Alienation. That’s what I remember feeling early on. Perhaps those emotions morphed into anger. That’s just speculation though.

I am certain that I did go through a period where I was extremely angry. Most of this anger was due to school though – at least, that is what I attributed it to.

Having spent the majority of my school career with undiagnosed ADHD, I chronically fell (woefully) short of my own expectations – in addition to the expectations of others. My potential remained untapped. Teachers constantly reminded me of that fact. In a word, I struggled.

Naturally, I was angry.

Why was I struggling in school?! What was wrong with me? Why had I fallen through the cracks of the system for so long?! Why don’t administrators and teachers care about helping students who are in the greatest need of help? These were my thoughts…

In retrospect, I can see how these  thoughts catalyzed my anger.  I can also see how my type 1 diabetes might have aggravated the situation I found myself in. Again, this is speculation.

I communicated my emotions only on rare occasions. These instances were the exception, not the rule.

The causes of my lack of communication were numerous, not the least of which being the inherent difficulty of expressing one’s emotions. Perhaps diabetes compounded this difficulty.

As I mentioned earlier, diabetes made me feel alienated. Describing what it’s like living with this chronic disease is futile. The communication gap cannot be bridged completely.

You are marooned on a barren island. Whether you survive is – at least in part – in your hands. Will you adapt to your environment or will you let your environment destroy you? The answer is in your hands.

Amidst a sea of uncertainty, one thing’s for sure: you are alone in your struggles.

Nobody else understands what it is like having to go through life with diabetes. Nobody else can understand.

This is how I felt. I feel this way no more.

This post = me following the advice that I gave to some one else on tudiabetes
This post = me following the advice that I gave to some one else on tudiabetes

Anger, left unchecked, will destroy you. This realization – although seemingly insignificant at the time – was a turning point. It led me to seek change.

In  order to mitigate my anger (and other counterproductive emotions) I began:

  • practicing mindfulness meditation;
  • exercising (there were other reasons as well);
  • writing as a form of therapy;
  • absorbing myself in music

This is what I can think of off the top of my head.

These practices have enriched my life.

My anger has subsided.

I have come to learn that negative circumstances are transitory.

I have realized that there are positives and negatives to all situations. The world doesn’t exist in black and white.

There is always something to complain about.

There is always something to be grateful for.


9 thoughts on “Practicing what I preach”

  1. I think your sister’s anger is also due to the extremely negative view type 1 diabetes is given in the media. Everytime I hear a joke like oh don’t eat that, you’ll get diabetes, I mentally yell “say type 2 diabetes!” So perhaps due to this portrayal of it, she may be fearing the attitudes of others as well as of course the difficulty of living with it. However, the second issue can be deal with more easily as you have more control over your body. Dealing with diabetes certainly is much easier with today’s medication when compared to just 10 years ago and I hope medicine continues to advance for type 1 diabetics.

    1. Perhaps. Even if she isn’t angry about that now, I bet she will be in the future.

      From what she has told me, she is angry because it is unfair being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She had a small chance (5%) of getting it, yet got it anyway.

      1. Yeah but she will have you to help her through that 🙂

        Hmm that is a tricky emotion to deal with. The only thing I guess you can reassure her on is that type 1 diabetes does not mean her life has to change drastically, she can still do the things she does, become the things she wants to become. I guess any attempt at this moment to tell her that she is lucky to have diabetes where her health can be taken care of whereas others do not have that luxury would sound patronising.
        Let her know there is a whole community out there who have shared what she is feeling, the first being you of course 🙂

  2. Oops, on Twitter I was thinking that it was your niece who had been diagnosed, not your sister. Sorry, I should have checked. I think it is normal for her to feel anger. I didn’t because I didn’t know enough about diabetes to be angry, but I think many/most people go through a whole range of emotions. Well-written post and you’re absolutely right that every life has a lot to complain about and a lot to be grateful for.

    1. Don’t worry.

      I have not put much thought into the reasons for my lack of anger. Having read your comment, that has changed. I was only 8 (almost 9) when I was diagnosed. Needless to say, I wasn’t an expert on diabetes. My lack of knowledge is a possible reason for my lack of anger.

      Thank you for sharing how you reacted (and why you reacted that way)!

  3. I am sorry to hear that your sister was diagnosed. I wonder if she felt anger at first because she knows what diabetes is. Being a second child diagnosed could be really difficult because she has seen you manage it and probably felt a strong adversity to it. Watching a sibling inject themselves can hurt the person watching because they wish for you circumstances that are very different.

    One thing I have learned (and partly YOU have taught me this) is that people with diabetes are varying. We are not all the same shape and sizes. Some of us are thicker skinned, and some of us we our hearts on our sleeves. Some of us don’t like to talk about diabetes at all. I know now that even with language we are different. I am adverse to ‘battle’ language, but it can be motivating for you.

    I am glad you have worked out so many techniques that work for you. Maybe you can guide her toward some of them.

    I wish her all the best and you as well. I hope that you work together to support each other.

    If she wants to talk to a girl who was diagnosed at the same age, let me know. I am happy to talk to her. It is a really tough time. Puberty is the worst.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you for the support!

      And sorry for not getting back to you ASAP!

      Your observations in the second paragraph was thought-provoking, and the mention of battle language led to serious self-reflection. I “had” to write. I hope you understand!

      FYI: I will be publishing a post that your comment helped inspire in a few minutes. Later this week I will be publishing one pertaining to my use of battle language.

  4. I was diagnosed at 21….mad and bitter were kind words to describe how I felt about it. I should have been in my “prime” of life – the roaring 20s, college, exploring the world – instead, I was trying to figure out how to stay alive with a disease that will affect me for my entire life. You can’t ever say things are “better” or “worse” depending on when you were diagnosed….at that time, I felt that being diagnosed as an adult – after living a life KNOWING what it was like to not have a care in the world when I was hungry or wanted to eat (or not eat) – was the cruelest punishment. But once I calmed down from feeling all sorry for myself, I really was grateful to have not had to deal with diabetes as a child. It might have sent me into greater pits of teen angst than I had then. Regardless….it’s a process of acceptance that we ALL have to deal with, in one way or another. As my first endocrinologist told me, “You can choose to live with diabetes, or die with it.” I choose to live.

    1. Your first endocrinologist prepared you well!

      I’m 21 now, and your comment has got me thinking of how I would react if I had dx’d at this age. I can definitely empathize with how you felt. I’m glad that you were able to move beyond the self-pity. Your gratitude was justified: it does suck having type 1 diabetes as a teen.

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