Guest post by Chris Ruden
Diabetes is a chronic illness and, to be quite frank, a chronic pain in the ass.
A fine line separates those who live for their diabetes and those who live with their diabetes. The rigorously tedious requirements of daily [read: hourly] diabetes management make that line easy to cross. And if you are anything like me, you’ve experienced life both with and for diabetes.
Before I go any further, I need you to understand that no amount of smiling will save you from a burning building just as no amount of positivity will make our diabetes go away. While being positive and optimistic can help, being realistic with the current state of your condition will really help keep you level-headed.
Ask yourself these questions:
Are you fighting your diabetes or accepting it?
Diabetes sucks as it is. Don’t self-sabotage your quality of life by endlessly fighting an incurable disease. Learn to ride it out.
Cancer you can fight. The flu you can fight. Hell, you can even fight sexually transmitted infections.
But you can’t ‘fight’ diabetes. You just can’t.
Diabetes is a chronic illness with no cure. A chronic illness is not cancer– you can’t fight it or beat it. Fighting diabetes implies that there’s a chance of winning and there, unfortunately, isn’t, because no matter how good your a1c is, diabetes will be back tomorrow.
Yes, you may consider battling blood sugar fluctuations a ‘fight’ but you truly cannot fight an incurable chronic illness like diabetes. This is not to discredit cancer or make one condition seem harder than another because I’m sure we all know someone struggling with terrible illnesses. This is meant to show how futile and impractical it is to be at war with something that can’t be beaten.
Just as you can’t interchangeably use the words ‘cure’ and ‘treat’, you can’t interchangeably use the terms ‘fighting diabetes’ and ‘dealing with diabetes’.
Instead of investing all your energy into this unavailing fight against an incurable disease, we need to make peace with our condition. Acknowledge and accept your condition as is. We don’t deserve diabetes. We don’t exactly know why we have diabetes. But I do know accepting my diabetes is a part of my life allows me to deal with it and live with diabetes – not for diabetes.
Are you cooped-up with your condition or coping with it?
It is impressively easy to let the troubles of diabetes affect our personal lives. From bad blood sugars to mood swings to just feeling like crap sometimes, it can be hard to get out of your own head, not to mention out of the comfort of seclusion. Cutting off your friends and family members because of the struggles you personally face with diabetes happens from time to time. You wish people understood what you are going through. I get it.
But cooping yourself up alone in your protective fortress of comfort (aka your bed) is living for your condition and you are worth more than your diabetes.
Learn to accept your diabetes and learn to cope with it. Confront your condition and the actuality that you will probably have this the rest of your life and that is out of your control. And though you can’t control having diabetes, you can still control what you do about it by managing the condition on a daily basis to the best of your ability.
You can manage diabetes. You can control your sugars. You can confront your condition, and you can learn to cope with diabetes rather than let diabetes take your quality of life away from you.
It is difficult sometimes to get help. Reach out to a therapist who specializes in diabetes (this is a great but highly underutilized management aspect). Get involved in the diabetes online community. Get out of your house and get busy doing something you love. Get a hobby. Find that emotional anesthetic that removes the thought of living for diabetes.
Your quality of life is not determined by your diabetes – it is determined by you and what you decide to do to live with diabetes. Stop brawling diabetes and outsmart it.
Are you your worst A1C or more than just a number?
Even though diabetes is a condition we have, it seems the A1C test we get every three months defines who we are as people. People are consumed by their A1C and almost get addicted to watching their Dexcom as if it was the stock market.
I do not want to downplay the importance of blood sugar management, but I do want to separate proper management from blood sugar addiction.
As a diabetic, our jobs are to control our blood sugars, but when you become an emotional wreck because you see an up arrow on your CGM or engage in emotionally self-harming behavior, there is a problem.
There will be times where you have an off blood sugar or an off A1C. Think back to the worst photo you’ve ever taken. Maybe someone snapped a pic of you with the flu or a really bad sunburn. Does that photo define who you are as a person (I really hope not)? No. It is just a snapshot of a very minimal part of your life. And even though the A1C is an important part of our management of diabetes, our quality of life, emotional happiness with our self, and our sanity are all important.
Do not live for a great A1C. Live for a great life while working towards a great A1C.
You are more than the number that appears on your glucometer. You will live to see thousands of different numbers on that little machine, but you will only live one life.
Diabetes can be a cruel tyrant and dictator of your life or that annoying roommate you are stuck with so you learn to coexist. It’s up to you.
Suggested next post: My Top 20 Tips for Living with Diabetes.
Chris Ruden is the strongest disabled, diabetic powerlifter in the world, using his adversity to motivate others internationally. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, Chris has dedicated his life to speaking professionally in the diabetic community as well as running his online, type 1-focused fat loss programs. To book Chris to speak or schedule a free fitness & nutrition consultation, go to ChrisRuden.com
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