November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. A time when we pay attention to the lives of those dealing with this illness and boost awareness for the progress we have made and, and the gaps that still remain. I am sharing my personal stories as they align to my 5 key coaching principles which I believe are game-changers for your best life with diabetes.
This week I’m rolling around in emotions. Join me? Don’t feel like reading? Watch the replay of my video chat on the same topic!
No one told me it was going to be this hard!!!! If there was anything about diabetes that I was not prepared for, it was the emotional roller coaster that began before diagnosis and continues somewhat to this day. Learning the ins and outs of diabetes was not even an issue due to my nurses training. But failing constantly, never being able to “do it right” and feeling judged by everyone, was a side effect of this disease that was nearly as bad as hypoglycemia. Well, not really, hypoglycemia is a near death experience, but at least I knew it might happen and how to treat it.
As I tried to navigate insulin, blood sugars, food, sleep, stress and exercise, I failed constantly. I was disappointed in myself for not “being better” and causing that worried look I saw in people’s eyes. Family, friends, co-workers and colleagues often had a look of sadness, that I interpreted as pity (looking back it was likely out of care and concern). Embarrassment flooded me, if I was called out for eating something with carbs or had a too high/low blood sugar. I felt shame and self-loathing that I had judged patients so harshly, before I understood how hard diabetes really is. Inside I was scared to death, but I relied on my go-to strategy for dealing with hard issues; ignore them and act like everything was OK.
Overtime, acting like I was OK and stuffing all the negative emotions deep down, was no longer effective. It just added to the feelings of failure as I couldn’t keep them away. Quite the opposite, like a toddler who needs attention, the more I ignored my emotions and feelings the stronger they became. The end result was a frustration so deep I was sure how I would keep it up. It just got heavier and harder and no one understood.
The truth was that those emotions were valid and meaningful. I had suffered a great loss and was dealing with a great burden. A diagnosis of diabetes deserves feelings of failure, disappointment, self-loathing, self-pity, overwhelm, fear and frustration. It is hard stuff and YOU WILL get knocked down on occasion. You just will. It sucks that it is true, but it is. There is no perfection in this disease. It is a lifetime commitment of chasing numbers and being always on guard. It is bound to get you down at times. You will have negative emotions from time to time. But they are NOT you!
I have found the seeking peace is the best antidote for the rollercoaster ride that is diabetes.
- First, give yourself permission to be frustrated with all of it. It can be hard, scary and unpredictable. You are human.
- Second, know that feelings are fleeting. They come and they go. Yet they have purpose. They show you what you need. Pay attention, learn and then let them go.
- Third, notice that there is a gap between your feelings and the truth. You can notice your feelings, they are not you. It is your truth that lives deep within you and knows this disease is not who you are. A deep breath and an intentional letting go of the tension in your shoulder and your jaw, may be just what you need to ease back into this knowing. Cling to that
- Lastly, there is one emotion you do not deserve and that is shame. You did nothing. Whether it is genetics, bad luck or a combo of the two, you cannot control what is happening at a cellular level inside of you with your will. Even if you struggle with weight or other “risk factors”, more and more research shows that a hormonal imbalance causes a cascade of changes in your body that you cannot control. (Remember insulin is a hormone – no matter what type of diabetes you have, you cannot consciously change biology). Let go of shame and seek peace.
National Diabetes Awareness Month is a great time to re-assess your diabetes needs, successes and struggles. Mercury also just went retrograde so if you follow the stars, this is also the perfect time to reflect, revisit, reaffirm, redirect, and restate your goals. If it seems impossible to sort it all out, that is where coaching can be very helpful. An expert set of eyes, ears, and thoughts to help you untangle and start moving in the direction you want to go!
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