Saturday, August 8, 2015

Day 5 - Diabetic Depression

Depression, for most diabetics, is certainly a possibility. With the constant injections, with the constant management and with the point that diabetes is going to influence our lives in a manner in which we do not necessarily enjoy or want for ourselves. With managing stress, managing money, managing our diets, managing our injections diabetes can be a really big responsibility and can also leading to negative thoughts where we start to feel as though we no longer want to deal with diabetes any longer, we start to feel that it is a burden into our lives and feel as though we cannot express ourselves the way we would like to express ourselves because of diabetes. These thoughts and this process of thought is common occurrence for people attempting to deal with what they believe is more than they can handle.

If we are prone to seeing diabetes as a burden or prone to having negative thoughts then this process of starting to become depressed will become quite an issue within our lives.

Not only does depression affect the mind but it also affects the body. When you feel depressed, as many people who are depressed can vouch for, the body feels a lot more weighted down than when we feel happy or `uplifted` so to speak. This weight within the body, as I have experienced, causes the body to not process the insulin. I noticed that I need about 50% more of an injection for the carb:insulin ratio than when I did not feel depressed. I have also experienced an instantaneous change in the function of insulin when I stopped feeling depressed; meaning that I was going through depression one day and was noticing that I was needing more insulin than I was previously needing. The pattern was showing throughout the day meaning I was depressed, feeling that weight on my body and having to inject more insulin, then in one moment I let go of the depression and started to do a few things…many people with depression, as we know, do not participate in much other than doing `nothing`. So when I started to do something, it was not heavy physical activity, the sugar levels started to drop significantly because the weight and `sluggishness` of depression was not existing any longer. I tested 15min before the drop and I was 6.8, 15min later I dropped to 2.9 which is quite a significant drop for anyone within 15 minutes. So, it could have been other factors but the one thing that I changed within myself at the start of that 15 minutes was the point of depression where I stopped moping around and decided within myself to get myself out of the depression and in that decision the weight lifted and the sluggishness stopped. Therefore, if we go through depression we must be aware that not only is it going to have an affect on the mind but it is going to have an affect on the bod as well and we, as diabetics, must recognise this and change our insulin dosages appropriately.

That is the consequences of depression, but the causes of depression are varying. If they are related to diabetes and to what we as diabetics must face and go through within life then those are what I would like to give perspective on. Living with diabetes is not easy. No one ever said it was or would be, but that need not be a reason to continue in depression. With all the things that we struggle with we simply need to take things one step at a time. When I would experience depression in relation to diabetes there would be thoughts running around of not wanting to deal with the future of diabetes, the future of myself, going through all the highs, all the lows, all the management and fear of diseases and complications that can arise, you know it was basically all future projections and what ifs that would come up within the mind. So when/as those thoughts and projections would come up I would not want to deal with them, not want to think about them so I would do nothing because I didn't want to be `here` and face those fears and future projections, which then lead to this lull within myself, a place within myself where I could allow time to pass by and not take a clear look at the things that I was fearing and not wanting to take responsibility for or deal with.

Taking diabetes one step at a time is quite pertinent to keeping ourselves sane while having the disease. If we go into the future projections of fears and worries of whether or not we will lose a leg or lose our eyesight or anything like that and we have not given ourselves the proper tools to deal with those fears and projections than depression has its opportunity to manifest. Taking it one step at a time means to take it one day at a time, one reading at a time, and one injection at a time, looking for patterns in which you can support yourself, not taking the information and going down a train of thought regarding something like: "If I keep going high in the mornings then I am likely to cause issues down the road"; keep yourself away from those thoughts and rather look at solutions. Look at what and how to best support yourself with those highs in the morning - I had the same thing and had to look at my night time long lasting injection…this brings me to another point in which depression can manifest and that is helplessness.

In the world of diabetes there are few people who can assist ourselves with our own diabetes. Doctors being the primary point in which we will rely upon, but as we know, even they can be void of the proper information to assist us and support us which can lead to us feeling `alone` within the disease and in turn helpless as well. The feeling of helplessness stems from 2 things. The first being a lack of understanding or knowledge and the second from not actually helping ourselves. If we look at the word helpless it is a feeling that we do not have `help` within our world and our world also includes ourselves, so if we're feeling helpless we have to admit to ourselves that we are in fact not giving ourselves the support and care that we're actually looking for in the world out there. So within this we need to stand back for a moment and then ask ourselves what is the help that we are actually looking for, specifically define the help, then start to create a plan to give ourselves that help. In that way we don't feel so helpless because we're the ones giving ourselves the help in which we're feeling helpless within. The overall solution to helplessness is to rather look at solutions, because within helpless we will start to feel burden by all the `problems` that potentially or do exist within diabetes. If we only focus on those problems rather than the solutions then of course we're going to feel helpless, so rather look for solutions. We need to challenge ourselves with these problems to find solutions, it is going to make us stronger human beings and diabetics.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Day 4 - Systematic Limitations With Diabetes

With diabetes we're obviously going to face some things within the system that are going to be limiting. Money is the biggest one. If we don't have insurance then money is going to be a larger issue for ourselves and a massive limitation. Money always has been a limiting factor on our movement within the society and with diabetes and medication being so expensive, without insurance, this makes it very difficult for us to not only expand our lives but to simply survive as well. There are other limitations that revolve around this point as well such as the need for insurance which means that we need to find a stable job which will provide those benefits which can mean that we are liable to become stuck at a job because they provide those benefits. It is similar to becoming comfortable with the amount of money one makes at a certain point and creating a lifestyle based on that income then seeing it difficult to change because the life that is created is based on that income.

So to give an example of what I am speaking about I am going to share what I went through with it.

When I turned 21 I was off of my parents benefits which means that the insulin, test strips, needles etc were no longer covered and I would have to pay full price for what was required. This meant that I needed to find a full time job that offered benefits so that I could not only pay for the medication but to survive because if I needed to pay full price I would run out of money because my outcome would have been larger than my income at that time. This also meant that I was basically, from my perspective at that time, stuck with the life that I had because in order for me to possibly change my life at that moment I would need to save up a LOT of money so that I could cover medication and living expenses for when I didn't have a job so that I could learn or do something else with my life. So my thought basis was that I am 21, I need to keep a job so that I can pay for my medication and if I quit the job then my money is going to run out quickly and I need to survive, so I need to keep this job in order to survive and there is very little room for myself to change where I am at because I am dependent on the job for benefits which isn't a pleasant thought process to go through at that age

So I did find a job that offered benefits, really good benefits which I was satisfied with. After a year or so at the job I decided that I wanted to upgrade my high school marks so that I could apply for university but with the need for the job and for the benefits this made the task quite difficult for myself. I could not quit the job and go to school full time .I was working days at the time which means that for me to attend school and upgrade my marks I need to switch to nights.

Within looking at the prospect of going to school and what I had to go through so that I could upgrade my marks, keep benefits so that I could pay for the medication to survive and give myself a change to expand and better myself I was quite pissed off because needing to keep benefits in order to support myself within diabetes was a limitation within the system. Meaning that because of the way that the system is designed in relation to needing money to expand yourself and when having an illness that takes a lot of money to manage it is quite hindering and obviously can be quite a piss off when we can become stuck due to money - I'm sure that there are many other people out there that experience the same thing regardless of them having diabetes or not.

All in all I did push myself to go onto the night position and take a course every 2 months, it could have gone faster if I was able to give up the job and just focus on the studies - I think all together I needed 6 courses upgraded for the university program I was looking at which was going to take me a year and a half, and it could have been 8 months if I didn't need to work = taking two courses at once rather than a single course, but I couldn't due to needing benefits. So I pushed myself to work from 11pm to 7am, I would bike home, shower quickly, then bike to school, attend class until half past 12, bike home, finish up any homework and then sleep for 4 hours before I had to get up again and prepare for work. As you can see it wasn’t easy  

The job that I had was a piece work job, meaning every night I had an allotted amount of time to add up to and I could finish 8 hours worth of work within 4-5 hours if I pushed myself very hard. Luckily the job and the managers I had were very relaxed and understanding of my situation and I am grateful for their support to this day, so I was able to finish the amount of work that I had to do quickly then use the extra time to study or finish up any assignments or just put in extra time getting to know the information. It was difficult for a bit, most days I was dead tired and running on adrenaline or stress for most of the time, but the point here is that yes things were difficult for me to give myself a better life through education and it was difficult to manage the systemic rules that dictate ones life, but it is possible to move through those points by applying self will. Diabetes need not be an absolute limitation to your life, it is going to make it a bit more difficult but that should only be motivation to push yourself beyond any preconceived ideas about what you can and cannot do.

Diabetes will make life more difficult than someone who does not have it, but comparing or judging yourself or others for what they have or do not is going to create more issues than if the judgement or comparison didn't exist. There are always ways around things I have found, it is going to take effort on our own part though and if we're comparing ourselves to other people's lives and saying how difficult our life is or how limited we are then, well, we are the own cause of our limitation because within comparing that point we're often not looking at solutions for ourselves. So rather look at solutions for what we want to create for ourselves than stir within the limitations that it does impose onto our lives.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 3 - Embracing Diabetes

In the previous post about Social Stigma I left off with a point of embracing ourselves within diabetes and this is something that I would like to touch upon within this blog.

Embracing yourself when having an illness or a disease can be a difficult thing to do. We will usually define ourselves as being less than or as being a victim to the illness or disease and in this develop a relationship of being less than or being submissive to the illness or disease - so it becomes hard to embrace the disease because it is seen as a burden or an illness or something that is making you less than others or less than your previous self or less than who you would like to be. This is something that can drastically affect not only the relationship with yourself as you start to see yourself differently with having the illness or disease, and it also affects your relationship with the illness or disease, meaning that now that you see as if you're less than the disease which can mean that there is a harbouring of resentment or anger or frustration towards the disease or illness itself. If that is the case then there is certainly going to be issues to walk through in order for self to embrace self within the disease and embrace the disease itself.

When I was first diagnosed, I did not know what to expect out of the disease and I certainly didn't want to face the fact that my life was going to and had to change in order for me to support myself, and this means that I didn't fully embrace the fact that I have diabetes. I still wanted to and tried to live my life as if I didn’t have diabetes, still ate what I wanted and only injected insulin for what I ate, which still meant that my sugars were quite off the wall. I still did not know what my regime or routine should entirely entail - so that allowed me to stay within an ignorance towards diabetes and further not embrace it, I suppose that made it easier to not embrace it = remaining and creating ignorance around diabetes.

Not embracing diabetes did make it difficult for myself to manage my health, and I did end up seeing it as a burden, something that limited my life, something that was detrimental to my life, and because I started to see it that way, because I was comparing it to the past life that I was living, it did make it really hard to embrace it. It affected…rather I allowed it to affect my social life, my love life, my eating patterns, my enjoyment of myself within activities or hobbies or tasks and that I BLAMED on diabetes. Blame here is a key word because within blame I was placing the responsibility for my own enjoyment, for my own love life within diabetes, not seeing or realizing that I was the one in fact creating the limitations on those aspects of my life based on what I wasn't willing to accept within diabetes. Obviously this can and does create such a turmoil within ourselves because all the while we are blaming this `outside` source for all of our issues we are failing to realize and understand the fact that we ourselves are creating that ourselves. We are creating those limitations and those hindrances ourselves yet placing the responsibility for those points upon the disease or illness that we have which is ill-placed responsibility because the responsibility is within/on ourselves.

So diabetes became a burden, became a place where I could place my frustration and anger at my life not working out the way that wanted it to, or stopping me from doing things that I wanted to do. Sure this does and can happen but from experience there is ALWAYS a way around it, planning just must be a bit more meticulous, or we just must push ourselves that much more to do the things that we would like ourselves to do, but first we must embrace diabetes, embrace having diabetes, embrace the fact that we ARE going to live this life with diabetes and only from there can we actually start to embrace ourselves with diabetes and start to decide what and how we are going to live with diabetes, changing it from being a burden or a hindrance and into, well, an embrace.

So what I have aimed to show here is that our illness or disease is only a limitation if we allow it to be, sure there are some physical points that cannot be set aside or just ignored but there are ways to move around it within/as the disease, and when/as we embrace the disease or illness and not demonize it or blame it for creating these limitations or hindrances within our lives and realize that we are the ones who are creating these limitations it becomes easier to embrace, it becomes possible for ourselves to take responsibility for ourselves within the disease or illness and not hold it against ourselves because we're the ones who are holding it against ourselves within the first place.

If you still see diabetes or any other illness within your life as a burden or hindrance then please - realize that it is ourselves that are creating these ideas about the illness or disease towards ourselves and it is OUR responsibility to let go of the ill feelings and/or emotions towards the disease so that we can embrace it, accept it, then move ourselves within our lives, expand ourselves within the disease and create more of a symbiotic relationship with ourselves and the disease or illness.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Day 2 - Social Stigma When Having Diabetes

When I was diagnosed I was in grade 8. This is a time right before I was about to attend high school, and at that time I was choosing a high school that 4 of my friends were attending and the rest were attending a catholic high school  so it was going to be a new environment where I did not know that many people. My world was already turned upside down with diabetes and it was going to be turned upside down with attending a new school and being around 99% of people that I had no interactions with previously. This was a big moment for myself.
I cannot remember why or how I started to stigmatize myself for having diabetes but it happened nonetheless. I was insecure and shy of injecting around the people who I did not know, afraid of exposing myself as a diabetic, and afraid of answering any questions or being seen any differently if they were to find out I was a diabetic.

Stigmatizing myself for having diabetes was not good for my health. There were numerous times when I would simply not inject if I were out eating with friends, causing the blood sugar to rise dramatically and stay there until I got home or got alone and injected at that. I didn't even do that well at caring for myself when I was in high school - like I realize now that I could have simply gone into the bathroom and injected there and saved myself a lot of ridiculous highs and saved myself from feeling like crap until this insulin kicked in and brought the blood sugar down. For the most part I went home to have lunch, luckily I lived pretty close so I could monitor myself and inject for what I needed there. At school I would resist as much as I could to not bring any attention to myself for being a diabetic. I remember one time I was sitting in class and I definitely could feel a low coming on. I had no form of sugar on my person at that moment and all I did was wait for the class to end so that I could walk home and go get something to eat. That was a very dangerous situation to place myself in and it was all because I was afraid to be seen as a diabetic, I was afraid to be seen as different or needing special attention.

Look, I am not saying that this is going to happen or exist within all diabetics. My circumstances were specific towards who I was within myself. In high school I was afraid to be pin-pointed for being anything, I wanted to stay within the background and keep to myself, due to fears of my peers, fears of the judgements that may exist, fear of my `world` collapsing by being seen as weird by my peers, and that was the largest factor involved within my diabetic negligence, so as I said it was specific towards who I was at the time. With that being said though I did see diabetes as something that was stigmatized. Those fears attached themselves onto the fact that I was a diabetic and it made that fear much worse than what it actually was/is. The stigma of being a diabetic can exist within many degrees and varieties though and it most likely will exist in some form or manner that is similar to what I put myself through

I cannot place blame onto other people even if they did stigmatize me, the problem was myself and how I saw diabetes within myself. I saw it as an illness or a disease that should be stigmatized or seen as needing help or assistance or special treatments. So the problem wasn't with other people, the problem was how I saw myself within diabetes. I wasn't aware of that at the time, but in retrospection I can see this as being true,

So the problem was how I saw myself within diabetes. Over time this became much better once I started to understand what I could do or what some of the limitations were within diabetes, or like what I needed to prepare for when going out or travelling or while working or studying, I started to become more comfortable with myself with having diabetes, started to understand that it really wasn't a limitation or something that I needed special treatment for having, it is something in which I was able to understand myself, something that I could support myself within, something that allowed me to take responsibility for myself on a different level than I previously have. Once that realization came through I have not worried about injecting in front of people, I do not fear people seeing or knowing that I have diabetes because I understand it a hell of a lot more now, I understand that it is not something to fear or to see myself as less than for having - it is simply something that I must work with and work my life with/around. The only limitation that exists about diabetes only exists within my ideas or beliefs about diabetes and/or what it will restrict me within. Taking a look back it would not restrict me from being friends with people it would actually most likely be a cool ice breaker and something in which I could share and open up about.

There was one example that I can bring up - and this was when I was in a hospital getting checked out for a knee injury that I was having and the nurse at the time asked if I was type 1 or type 2 - and I said type 1 - he said that he was sorry to hear that - I replied that I was actually quite grateful to have it because it has taught me a lot about myself that I would have not otherwise seen, and have been able to be responsible for myself in another dimension that I previously have - he said that is a pretty cool outlook on it. So the reason why I share this example is that many people already do see diabetes as something that is detrimental to our livelihoods, or something that we should burden ourselves with, and this is also how I saw it for those years when I really did not understand diabetes nor understood how to practically and effectively support myself within it.

So if anyone who is reading this is going through something similar the one thing that I can see is that I took longer than I needed to to find out what/how to support myself effectively within diabetes by trying to hide it from other people. I wasted quite a bit of time that I could have used to understand what to inject when I am out to eat or what I need to bring to support myself. So push yourself to inject around people, push yourself to lift up your shirt and stick a needle into your stomach regardless of anyone being able to see you - it's simply what you need to do, never mind if someone takes offense to that - it is their own problem if they do. Understand that what you have to do is out of support for yourself, diabetes isn't something that should be looked down upon or be seen as something less than other people for having - it simply is something that we need to take care of and factor into our lives. It is not a burden at all, and if you see it as a burden I highly suggest to research and investigate that line of thinking because that line of thinking is certainly going to affect the relationship with yourself and diabetes .

It is out responsibility to correct our relationship to diabetes and if we fear our self definition in relation to having diabetes then we need to re-assess those fears and embrace having diabetes, not see it as a burden or see it as a stigma, but rather see it as an opportunity for ourselves to understand ourselves on another level, be responsible for ourselves on another level, and provide care for ourselves on another level. It is our own journey to walk and we cannot allow fears of what others may think of us within the disease to dictate what or who we will be within diabetes. So if this fear exists within you as it did within me, learn from my mistakes, take that step to push beyond that fear and embrace yourself being a diabetic and do what you need to do within public or not. As the saying goes - life is too short - so do not place these ideas within your head of diabetes being a stigma - embrace diabetes and become the master of yourself within diabetes - letting nothing within yourself get in the way of your own support.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Day 1 - Becoming A Master

There has been a study that stated doing something for 10,000 hours defines that you have mastered the art or practice that that time and effort has been placed in. In terms of work hours this means that over 7 years with 40 hours a week being put into the work will add up to that 10,000 hours in which one is now a master.

Diabetes is usually a lifetime illness and a 24/7 job so with that being said we're putting in more than 40 hours a week into diabetes, and soon enough we're going to become masters of our diabetes. I personally have had type 1 for 11 years, but even with that study and with the years that I have been a diabetic I can say that I am certainly no master of diabetes yet, there is still a lot that I have to learn about diabetes, but I am still learning, I am still understanding more about the illness by the day/month/year and aim to become the master of diabetes, and not only diabetes but myself with diabetes, allowing myself to take full responsibility for diabetes and change/alter myself, habits and/or patterns to best support the body and it's health….my own health.

Within this blog I will be sharing stories about my how diabetes has offered realizations, about how it has limited me, about how I have moved through the limitations, about depression, about any and all struggles with diabetes that I have faced so that those who are going through the same struggles can learn from my mistakes and then correct the issues before they become part of a larger problem. There are things such as depression, anxiety and judgement of myself for having diabetes that I have faced and walked through that I do see that other people most likely will face, as well as physical and systematic limitations of diabetes such as being low at work or finding work that provides benefits and attending school at the same time - it can be really difficult sometimes, but diabetes is never something that should limit you, it is going to provide challenges, but those challenges are opportunities to expand yourself and push yourself past the limitations that you may have perceived that you have had. It is a very fascinating disease both biologically and how it changes the lifestyle that you must live and what/how you must consider within your daily life and even future planning.

I will also be sharing about things that I am currently walking through with diabetes, and what it is that I am developing within myself within diabetes, any struggles or issues that I am currently working with, and any realizations about diabetes or new understandings of myself within diabetes. This can also be metaphysical issues such as the relationship with myself within diabetes, like there has been a point where I have allowed myself to get annoyed with going low while I am working and needing to take time away from work even if it is a few moments, or just an overall experience of going low, which will start to send messages and create a relationship with my body and diabetes of annoyance and frustration which then creates a relationship with diabetes and thus myself, diabetes and the body are not standing in harmony but I am actually creating a struggle between the relationships existent there. This is something that I have learnt after a while of having diabetes and understanding who I am in relation to diabetes, and when corrected, meaning when I choose to not become annoyed at being low but rather stop what it is that I am doing and support the body and myself via correcting a low, the relationship will also change.

Becoming a master or ourselves within diabetes certainly isn't easy. One thing that I have noticed that we need in order to become a master is simple self awareness, being aware of what we're eating, not getting distracted with random events within our lives that may take us away from being aware that we have diabetes…there have been quite a few times where I get lost within a tv show and forget to inject insulin, that is what I mean by self awareness, aware of what we're eating when we're eating it, aware of any stressors that may exist, aware of any exercise that we will be doing throughout the day, and any emotions or feelings that we're going through within a moment because any chemical reaction within the brain that stimulates emotions or feelings can and does change the chemical processes within the rest of the body.

My goal here is to share what I have walked through within myself so that others too can learn from the mistakes that I have made during the process as I have learned as well.

This will be a fascinating journey to take on and I hope that you follow me through it.