Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Power of a Break

This blog project was originally assigned to me as part of my summer internship, and I was skeptical as to how I would like the exercise. I always enjoyed reading other people’s thoughts and perspectives about living with diabetes, but never really thought about contributing my own stories. However, after a break from blogging, I have decided to pick it up again, as I feel it is personally beneficial to reflect on positive/negative experiences, and maybe someone will read it and learn from my mistakes or be inspired by my achievements. So, here goes my return from my break.
            The concept of a “break” is pretty non-existent for someone living with type 1. This is probably one of the hardest aspects of living with diabetes as breaks are a natural part of life for people: breaks for summer, breaks in between classes, breaks in career choices, etc. Continually thinking about my diabetes gets exhausting, filtering questions, different possible scenarios, checklists of necessary supplies, counting carbs, analyzing blood sugar trends, etc. are thoughts that constantly consume my brain power. I write about this to release some of the burden that not being able to take a break from diabetes causes. It’s hard to constantly keep putting diabetes above everything else in my life especially when I am faced daily with a million distractions that college life presents.
            In the past 18 years, I really can’t think of a time I decided it was time for a mental break from diabetes, but last weekend I made a conscious awful decision to take a break from diabetes. I will refrain from details, but basically I made a handful of bad decisions with poor blood sugars and ended up not being able to control my health independently and needed assistance from others. Just a one-hour break and there I was incapable of caring for myself. As much as this experience was terrifying, I can now say that yes I have taken my break from diabetes. And let me say that I never ever want another one. I knew what my blood sugar was and yet I still made poor decisions, I think in part because I wanted to live my life that day without feeling sequestered by diabetes. I think this is a natural feeling and I am choosing not to beat myself up about it because I have rarely experienced this before, and use it as an experience to learn and grow from.
            I think that my message here for others who have not chosen to take a break from diabetes is to respect the presence of your diabetes in your life and understand that it is a part of you that makes you you. I’ve learned from my “break” and I am relearning to love and appreciate the discipline that living with diabetes requires. Ask me a week and a half ago if I ever wanted a break from living with diabetes and I would have jumped on the offer- ask me today and I will immediately say no thank you. Whether I like it or not, my diabetes is a part of me, and it’s not going anywhere, so I need to make decisions not just for me personally, but for both me and my diabetes. 
            Breaks for people living with diabetes are scary because we have naturally trained our minds to constantly put diabetes at the forefront of our mind, and so when we eliminate that ingredient from our thought process, I think we don’t really know what to do with all the freedom that others constantly live with. As nice as living with an empty forefront of my mind would be, I think I will take my life sans breaks.