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An Understanding – Part III

As I wrote An Understanding – Part I and Part II, something kept bugging me. I felt like I was missing something, something so important but so trivial that I don’t even think of it anymore. I’d covered the daily thoughts, actions, questions and worries.

Isolation.

I think I very briefly mentioned in Part II that diabetes can be a very solitary disease.   There are a number of reasons why this is.

  • There are no “visible” signs that you have a chronic condition
  • There is a social stigma attached to being diabetic
  • Even if someone wants to, no one can really understand the long-term mental wear and tear that is inflicted on us every day (See Parts I & II, yes shameless plug)
  • Finding support can be difficult because the social pressures make people uncomfortable “coming out”
  • Self-image, it is so easy to see yourself as broken somehow
  • Depression.  Diabetes can be a “perfect storm” for depression.  Long-term stress, social stigma, no end to the condition in sight, no one to talk to.  Hell, that would give me depression.  Oh wait, it already did.
  • Medico’s not seeing the results they expect and branding you non-compliant.  You do your best and you’re still a failure.
  • Once you are an adult with diabetes, you’re pretty much on your own.  Just deal with it
  • Not wanting to tell people you are diabetic because you SO do not want to hear about thier second cousin, twice removed on their dad’s side, who died of the sugar diabetes in 1947
  • Feeling guilty about eating
  • Feeling guilty about not being perfect
  • Inevitability of not being perfect

Seriously, the list goes on and on and on.   So we go along inside our defensive shell, carefully choosing who we tell what and always listening for what comments happen behind the scene when we’re not there.

The people who are reading this right now are the ones who have already taken the step to not be isolated any longer.  Even if they are just reading about other diabetics are living day to day, it is an immense help.  Taking that step to post and acknowledge thier diabetes is not easy to do.  You become used to being isolated and opening up, even just a little, allows people to see inside your shell.  You wonder how they will react.

With compassion?  Sympathy?  Blame?  Pity?  Ridicule?  Who knows.  But do you really care?  Seriously, is the opinion of someone else about your condition in anyway more valid or important than your own.  I hope you answered “Hell no!”

How do I react to my condition?  My wins?  My failures?  Am I honest with myself about how it affects me?  How do I perceive it?  How does that affect my outlook on the totality of my life?  Do I give myself a pat on the back when I earned one and a swift kick in the butt when I’ve earned one of those?

There is a saying that perception is reality.  How you perceive a problem will define how you attempt to solve it.    If you perceive yourself as being isolated, how can you know that you are not?

  • Scott, This is an excellent series of posts. Even being a type 2 on insulin does not stop the relationship, and keep me from understanding what you are saying. We fight the good fight and hope that daily we win the battle. Some days are better and some don’t score so well.Thanks, Bob

  • Thanks Bob, you are right, the mental aspects of all this is something we all share

  • Steve

    Scott, you could not have expressed this better. I feel these things EVERY DAY and wouldn’t even begin to speak to anyone (therapist) because without dealing with this themselves how could anyone understand…..

  • Scott K. Johnson

    I’m glad you touched on this stuff too. The isolation and constant pressures can really mess with our heads. Getting out and connected to others seems to help me a lot. I rely on meds for the rest. 🙂

  • Scott, what strikes me as I read this post is how what you’re describing fits into the larger human condition. Although the details vary, billions of people feel caught in a cycle with a routine-ness whose weight seems crushing – other chronic diseases, dead-end jobs, raising young children, subsistence agriculture, many things more. I often feel locked in such a rut, though my diabetes management is not yet anywhere near as strenuous as yours. Of course, the details vary, but there’s also a commonality. I’m not minimizing what you’re saying, nor how you feel about it, not one bit.

    Thank you for a moving series of posts.