A couple days ago Scully suggested that I write about how diabetes feels. It’s an interesting question, and the answer is hard to put into words.
I’ve written before about how diabetes is both part of who I am and something that feels separate and foreign. Managing this disease wasn’t something I did for the first twenty five years of my life, and now it’s something that I do all of the time. But really it’s not something I think about every moment of every waking hour. And yet diabetes is always there, whether I’m actively doing anything about it or not. In some way it’s always on my mind. “How am I feeling? Is everything normal? Do I need to eat? Do I have the supplies I need? Am I going to do something out of the ordinary, and what do I need to do to make that work?” Some of these thoughts are automatic and happen without me actually thinking about them. Others are really more of a gut feeling, literally. Blood chemistry affects brain chemistry affects mood, and I’ve learned to recognize some of my moods as originating from unbalanced diabetes. From time to time, the feeling are very conscious, especially when I’m having trouble influencing my diabetes to go where I want it. At those times, I feel frustrated, angry, despondent, inadequate, incapable. Sometimes diabetes is a motivator, and I feel an obligation to myself to do well despite/because of it.
This kind of omnipresent state of feeling or thinking about something is almost like any other relationship or obsession. When you’re falling in love, you think about the other person all the time. He or she is always on your mind, even when you’re not actively thinking about them. If the relationship goes bad, you can’t stop thinking about it. Sure, you’re making spreadsheets at the office, but you’re also thinking about the current troubles and how it was better and why can’t it be great now and can it ever really be great again and was it ever really that great to begin with or was it all just a big mistake. The same thing happens when a friend or loved one is hurting; you go about your day mostly doing what you always do but sparing some extra thoughts and effort trying to make things better, trying to soothe the hurt. Occasionally obsessions turn bad and you can get caught up in patterns of self-destructive thinking and actions. Thoughts can become disordered and distorted. We can lose perspective on what’s really happening or what’s the most important thing for us to be doing. We can get a little lost to those around us while we try to figure things out, sometimes because we assume that no can really understand what we’re going through or because our thoughts seem so unusual. And then things change; thoughts change; feelings change.
That’s pretty much how diabetes feels to me . . . but different.