Do you ever just want to drop kick diabetes out of your life? I was reflecting on this topic as it is a feeling that people living with diabetes can experience fairly regularly. The newly diagnosed who are getting used to the necessitated changes and additional duties to daily life as well as the veterans who have years of experience and still sometimes miss the mark (because who are we kidding? The mark can have a mind of it's own!), and all those who undergo burnout in between--we all feel it. Even if we can appreciate how diabetes has made us stronger, we still often wish we could just tell it where to go. The problem is, there's no one to scream at. Getting mad at diabetes is like throwing a pebble at an armored freight train going full steam--nothing makes a dent. We can feel like we have no voice and if our feelings don't have anywhere to go, that animosity we'd like to express to diabetes can turn inward. If it stays inside, with no one to react to our pain, to hear us and engage with it, it can be very difficult to release. Think back to a time when you had a disagreement with someone. Imagine how you would have felt if they'd just dismissed you or ignored you. Yes, we want to prove our point but so many times, we just want others to engage and validate our point of view. We want to know that we're getting through, and many times we'd rather have them yell back than ignore us because at least we can feel that someone else has skin in the game. Much like a computer or traffic light (hmm...which are also computers), diabetes cannot hear us, no matter what we do; it's just doing what it does and no matter how much we tell it that it stinks, it doesn't do anything differently. This can lead to feelings of paralyzing hopelessness and clinical depression and anxiety.
So what can we do? One of the most effective things I've both seen and experienced as a way to cope with difficult realities is what psychologist Mary Pipher calls the "transcendent response". It can be so easy to go into denial, compartmentalization or numbing when we feel overwhelmed. The transcendent response entails taking action by becoming part of something larger than yourself. Whether that's attending a small support group or volunteering with a non profit whose mission resonates with your values, time and time again we see ordinary people banding together in the face of natural disasters or traumatic events who "manage to survive by helping each other".
In our daily lives, we cannot change the fact that we have a chronic condition. We still have to check blood sugars, take medication, and split our attention between our bodies and whatever else is happening. But knowing that others have to do it too, that they "get it" and are passionate about sharing their own stories, listening and adding to ours, combating isolation and wanting change as badly as we do can alleviate feelings of powerlessness and despair. Pipher also said, "Acting as if we have hope generates hope". Much like a blood sugar after pizza, hope can raise up and dip again. It is during times like these that, when we cannot hold our own heads up to see beyond the finger sticks to the cure that has forever been 5 years away, it comes in handy to borrow the hope of those around us who have also walked our path. It is powerful and contagious to be in the presence of someone who believes that things can get better. When they share their victories, no matter how small, we have the opportunity to refresh our mindset and renew our hope.
Need some help rediscovering hope? Check out how you can get involved in the T1D community or contact me for a consultation to start feeling better today!