Also known as November to some, Diabetes awareness month has proven to be one of my most active, ever. I had a few goals going into the month, the most significant of which was to:
Talk about diabetes every day to at least 1 person and not feel guilty about it
I successfully completed this goal and I managed to only tell one person, my closest roommate, about the goal. It definitely was not all pretty. I got a lot of, “of course, Diabetes” and tuning out. I tried to not take it personally when people were not all for talking about T1D sometimes, it can be challenging though since T1D is so closely tied to my identity. The most common challenge that I faced definitely tapped into shame and guilt that I have fairly ingrained about the burden of T1D to the people around me. It is really difficult, but when it got particularly challenging I would initiate my ‘betic self love protocol.
Ellie’s ‘Betic Self Love Protocol:
- Go to the bathroom, an empty room, somewhere private, or just close your eyes.
- Repeat “You do not need to justify your diabetes.”, “Diabetes has made you the strong woman that you are.” or some variation of these phrases.
- Identify 3 people with T1D that I admire, and why I admire them.
- Take three deep breaths and get back out there!
Maybe it sounds dumb or childish, but I have come to terms with the fact that the last thing I want to be to the people around me is imposing. Being an imposition, being singled out, being the topic of conversation, and having special exceptions has always made me uncomfortable (a blog post dedicated to this will be coming soon). Talking about my diabetes has often led to moments like these and therefore has led to me avoiding this subject of conversation, especially with people I don’t know especially well.
Talking about diabetes was also challenging because I did not want to limit my identity to diabetes and especially negative topics in diabetes. I wanted to make sure that the diversity of implications that diabetes has on my life were reflected in the ways that I spoke about it. I think that I succeeded in this goal. I spoke about issues as they came up in my everyday life, notably: the resilience of the T1D community, the current debate on the disability tax credit (in Canada), but most importantly, my OpenAPS.
Overall, talking about diabetes every day was awesome. I highly recommend using it as a tool to become an activist in your community, and without adding much time to your existing schedule. It took a while for me to get comfortable with, but my friends are amazing and were so supportive the entire month. From here on out I may not continue consciously talking about diabetes every day, but I’ve accomplished my goal of decreasing my diabetes guilt.