Tag Archives: Introspection

Personal(ity) Problems

Openness is a particularly strong aspect of my personality. My appetite for knowledge knows no bounds. My imagination has been a close companion of mine from an early age. I need intellectual stimulation.

I have my parents to thank for this. Thanks to my dad – who’s a professor – I’ve become a well-spoken, independent-minded, and highly intelligent young man. Thanks to my mom – who exposed me to fine art and classical music from a tender age – I’ve come to have a deep appreciation for and/or interest in art, music, literature, architecture, etc. Despite being somewhat simplistic, this characterization of parental influences upon the development of my personality is, for the purposes of this post, adequately true.

In addition to being a prominent factor of my personality, openness to experience is a pertinent part of my self-identity. I, admittedly, take pride in it. Despite this pride, however, I’ve come to recognize that there’s a downside to it.

Upon defeating my unskilful diabetes management habits I was struck by discontent. Having been seized by such an uncomfortable feeling, I was compelled to introspect. New insight was the result.

This is what I’ve come to realize:

  • My struggles with managing my diabetes adequately engaged my intellect. Setting objectives and developing a general strategy on how I was going to accomplish them was intellectually stimulating;
  • In December, I felt as if this diabetes blog provided me with an adequate outfit for my creativity. Since mid-January, however, I’ve felt less creative. My writing has left me feeling less satisfied.

Looking back at other periods where I’ve felt discontent (there have been quite a few), I’ve observed this universal pattern:

  • I wasn’t engaged in studying anything that I found intellectually stimulating;
  • I lacked a creative outlet.

From my observations, I’ve concluded that being engaged intellectually and having a creative outlet at all times is essential for my happiness.

Even if my memory serves me wrong (a distinct possibility), this conclusion still makes sense due to my extremely high levels of openness.

Going forward, I’m going to make a conscious effort to make sure that I always have a source of intellectual stimulation and an outlet for my creativity.

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Victory!

My blood sugars have been, on average, much better :)
My blood sugars have been, on average, much better than before. So long as this trend continues, they’ll be excellent in no time.

In the last 2 months I’ve made observable progress in how well I manage living with type 1 diabetes. Alas! I am winning my competition against diabetes. So long as I don’t become complacent, I will be victorious.

May the bitterness of defeat remain far from my lips from this point forward! In The 12 years I’ve lived with diabetes, I have tasted defeat far too often. Never again!

For the latter part of 2013, diabetes remained ahead of me on the scoreboard. It wasn’t until mid-December that I started turning things around.

My rally from behind began when I strengthened up my defenses against diabetes burnout. Introspective writing was my means of doing so.

With my defenses shored up, I went on the offensive. My initial target was blood glucose testing. Raising my testing frequency was a preliminary step for adequate control over my diabetes.

When the time was right – during late January – I began to increase my physical activity. That’s when things really began to improve.

As of right now, my 7 day average is 174, whereas, previously, it was in the low to upper 200s. This decrease hasn’t come at the cost of more lows. This improvement is, therefore, sustainable.

Going forward, my strategy will remain the same: to reduce my average blood sugars while trying to prevent hypoglycemia. So long as I stick to this strategy, I will defeat type 1 diabetes.

What are my standards of success?

How do I define success? By which standards do I judge my actions? I’m vexed.

Until recently, I wholeheartedly believed that I had overcome my perfectionistic tendencies. All too often, self-perception is self-deception.

For four long years I struggled valiantly to rid myself of perfectionism. Did I struggle in vain?

For four long years I struggled vainly to rid myself of perfectionism. Did my unskillful approach sabotage my valiant efforts?

My thought’s are a series of questions and question marks… Uncertainty abounds… Shards of glass encircle me.

Despite all of this, I feel at home. Peace. Serenity. Freedom. These three are my closest confidants.

Despite all of this, I don’t feel lost. Shock. Anxiety. Paralysis. These three know nothing of me.

Creative destruction. A certain self-perception has been destroyed. In its place, a blank piece of paper has appeared. Creativity can now blossom.

I thought I had overcome perfectionism. I had overcome perfectionism in the realm of thought alone, and my judgement was clouded.

My thinking was wishful, but clarity’s been restored.

While pondering a post that I’d written recently, I realized that my perfectionism had merely changed forms.

By objective standards, the lapse in adequate diabetes management that I wrote about in the aforementioned post was insignificant. The problem was subjective. It was due to my interpretation of events, and my projections of the future.

I interpreted this incident as being problematic because it disrupted the story I told myself about my recovery from diabetes burnout. It shattered the myth of a perfect recovery.

In my myth, I was perfectly strong and, therefore, able to effortlessly overcome any obstacle. I didn’t expect myself to stumble so early in the story. When I did stumble, frustration struck me.

I’m grateful for how things transpired…

Going forward, I need to be more realistic. I need to make a less inflated estimation of my own strength. I need to account for setbacks… I still need to reconcile with my fallibility.

Creative destruction. An old story has been destroyed. In its place, I can create a new, more realistic one.

Giving an old tradition a new spin

The following post isn’t meant to be coherent. Rather, it’s meant to: A.) give a vague representation of how I see the present moment; B.) offer a unique perspective on how to come up with a New Years resolution; and, C.) practice appropriating common metaphors from elsewhere and use them to make a different point.

The present moment is a field, and we are the farmers. The seeds we plant now, the care with which we cultivate the field, and other factors – including one’s that we don’t control – will determine what our field will look like at harvest time. Regardless of what happens, this remains certain: harvest time will come.

How we act in the present matters.

We are continuously sowing seeds – whether we realize it or not. The care we take now will determine our yield at harvest.

Unfortunately, many of us are incompetent farmers. We go about accomplishing the task at hand mindlessly. We act unskillfully.

Our thoughts, our words, and our deeds are seeds. Some of the seeds are big, while others are small. Some fall on fertile ground, while others do not. Like seeds, each thought, word, or deed will either take root or die at some point in the future.

To survive and thrive with diabetes – both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes – takes mindfulness. We must act as the guardian’s of our thought’s, word’s, and deeds. We must strive to make sure that they are conducive to our own well being as well as the well being of others.

As we formulate our New Years resolution, let’s us take a long, hard look at ourselves.

Here are some of the questions we can ask ourselves: What type of seeds have we sowed? Have they been beneficial, or are they doing us harm? What type of seeds are we sowing now? Have we sowed similar seeds in the past? If so, what was their fruit like? Was it bitter or sweet?

Start by looking at your thought’s. Observe the way that you habitually interpret your life, and ask yourself the questions mentioned above..

Take a break if you feel the need…

Proceed by observing the type of words you tend to use. How do they impact others? Do they help other people who’re struggling with diabetes (or any other problems)? Could you be doing more to support them?

Take a break if you feel the need…

Lastly, observe your deeds. Ask yourself the aforementioned questions.

Here’s one last piece of food for thought:

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at. – Bruce Lee

Mugged by Diabetes Burnout

Diabetes burnout feels like being mugged. It comes up behind you, seemingly out of nowhere, and robs you of any positive (or neutral) feelings towards diabetes that you may have had. In its aftermath, you are left feeling vulnerable and discouraged… temporarily stunned and immobile… And, although there’s nothing wrong with these feelings (in fact, something’s probably wrong with you if you don’t feel them), there come’s a time when you must get up and take action, despite how you’re feeling. You must report the crime to the police, and put your trust in them. You must accept that you’ve done all that you can, for now.

I was recently mugged. It seemingly came out of nowhere. My most recent A1C was the best it had been in 9 years, I was testing as often as I needed to, and I was exercising almost every day. Things were looking up! I was proud. The days (years) of not paying close attention to my type 1 diabetes were behind me…so I thought.

Something happened. My attention became lax, and, gradually, all my progress became unraveled. What once came naturally had turned into a disgusting chore. All of this happened right under my nose.

That’s the thing about diabetes burnout: it seemingly hits you out of nowhere, and it takes time to register what has just happened to you. Although it might be obvious to an outsider that all is not going well for us in dealing with diabetes, it isn’t immediately clear to us. Awareness comes in time. We’re not often immediately cognizant of diabetes burnout. It appears gradually; once it appears, our awareness of it is also gradual.

During my most recent encounter with diabetes burnout, it took me a good month to become aware that I had fallen. Until then, life seemingly went on as it had before.

Self-awareness slowly established itself. Initially, I was only aware that I wasn’t feeling as well as I had when I was testing more, exercising, etc. Then I put two and two together. Being aware of this, however, wasn’t enough lift me out of diabetes burnout.

Then things took a turn for the worse. I ended up – somehow – in the unenviable position of having to live my life while almost constantly being over 200. Numbers in the upper 300s, and even the 400s, had become a regular occurrence. Although, by then, I was painfully aware of my burnout, that awareness wasn’t enough to lift my out of the whole I’d fallen into and spur me to action. If anything, in the short term, my awareness only succeeded at torturing me.

At this point I knew that I had fallen into a deep hole. I was painfully aware that my ever-present hyperglycemia was slowly killing me. None of this helped. It only fueled the flames of negativity that hyperglycemia had started. It only succeeded at increasing my feelings of dread. I dreaded all of the habits I’d have to reestablish. I dreaded the thought of having to experience more hypoglycemia. My self-awareness still left me stuck in inaction. However, there are no eternal nights; this mental state did not remain for long.

What helped me begin the process of lifting myself up out of the hole I had fallen into? Honest self-expression. I didn’t let my pride get in the way of me expressing how I felt on tumblr. I didn’t let fear over what other people might think dictate what I published. I allowed my mask of strength to fall off, and showed my vulnerability by expressing my feelings of disgust, disappointment, and despair. Unlike in the past, I did’t let these feelings fester in me. By being willing to “stare into the abyss,” and express what stared back at me, I opened up the opportunity to take the necessary actions to restore myself to full health.

Where I stand now, I’m taking things one step at a time. Through my experiences of dealing with diabetes burnout,  I’ve been taught the dangers of being over zealous. By rushing to improve things too quickly, we often set ourselves up for failure. Life with diabetes is all about balance. I have yet to find the proper balance, but I have faith that I eventually will, so long as I persevere.

I am doing what I can do, rather than focusing on what is out of my control. I can’t always control what my numbers will be, but I do have the power to get into the habit of doing the things that are necessary to get back on track. In short, my focus will be on the concrete actions that are needed to be healthier, rather than the abstract goal of “better health.” If I stick to this approach, I shall return to my former glory in no time 😉

Why I Write

In the 21st century, the daily grind of life threatens to make us all grow dull. We are torn by a multitude of competing demands: by our innermost desires, by the demands society places upon us, etc. We are over-saturated: by information, by endless noise, by a flurry of activities, etc. We are all, to varying extents, caught up by this deluge, and swept away from our innermost selves. We’re all at imminent risk of losing our bearings.

For some of us, these difficulties are exponentially greater. As a person who happens to have type 1 diabetes and ADHD, this is especially true. Diabetes adds a  unique set of demands – ones that are ever-present – and my ADHD sharpens the all too common tendency to get caught up in and distracted by trivialities. It is all too easy for me to lose sight of what matters most to me. It is all too easy for me to lose sight of who I am at the most fundamental level. Introspective writing is my remedy to this.

In order to write, I need to concentrate. All external things are left at the door, opening up a space for me to delve deep into myself. Deep introspection is now a possibility. I am left alone: my thoughts, feelings, actions, etc. are before me in a way that isn’t possible when distracted. To prepare oneself to write is also to prepare oneself for introspection.

My method of writing helps my introspection in another way: it forces me to be self-honest. For me to write, I have to silence the inner critic, and let my thoughts and feelings flow. Improvement can come latter. Editing comes later. The first step is to simply write. Self-honesty flows from this method. Over-thinking is diminished.

In introspective writing, what lies within becomes manifest.  So long as the fruit of my introspection remains in my head, it quickly becomes rotten; I easily lose sight of the insights that I’ve gained. Introspective writing remedies this. Being made manifest, the fruit of my introspection is available to me in my time of need. When I’ve become lost in the demands of life, and I’m hungry for insight, it is there for me.

These are, for me, the most valuable reasons to write. They aren’t the only reasons I write, but they are the one’s with the greatest cash-value. These benefits permeate the rest of my life. It helps me to both discover and remember who I am, what my priorities are, etc. In a word, introspective writing is the ark that saves me from the deluge.