I’ve had Type 1 diabetes since 1992. I do not have any complications. The lack of complications may have something to do with genetics as well as self-care. I don’t know about the genetics but I do know about self-care. After 20 years I see 3 key areas in life that need regular attention: knowledge, creativity and mindfulness/awareness.
Knowledge refers to knowledge of the condition. When I was eating the prescribed diabetic diet and trying to do everything else the medical team told me to do, I wasn’t learning, as much as I was following directions. At first, of course, I was was in shock and thinking, Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it! But many folks remain in that passive mode long after they are diagnosed with diabetes–or just about any disease. My PBJ ah-ha moment was about waking up to being pro-active. I had to learn about diabetes; about what to eat, how to exercise etc. Even though my medical team had my best interests at heart, they could never give me the amount of information I needed to be truly healthy. The US medical system isn’t set up to provide information–it’s much better at providing pills and surgery. It’s also has a poor track record of empowering people. If they were good at it, they wouldn’t call us patients!
Creativity means a creative outlet or pursuit that brings pleasure and challenges you in good ways. Creative expression is healing. If nothing comes to mind, or if you don’t think you’re creative, ask yourself this question: what brought you pleasure as a child? What did you love to do so much that you forgot about time or where you were? Whatever it was, it’s probably still is your core passion, even if you haven’t done it for years. We usually stop doing what we loved doing as children because an adult told us to stop.
Mindfulness/awareness means an active mindfulness practice. A practice is an act one can perform, like praying and meditating. A sitting practice requires quiet time for reflection and for observing the mind. The goals of mindfulness practice are to understand the workings of our minds, and to develop compassion for others, and ourselves; to be grateful and awake every moment we’re alive.
And there’s one more thing. As we struggle through our Pandora’s box of difficulties: resistance, fear, doubt and anxiety, there’s a little white bird at the bottom of the box we often forget about–humor.
Laugh and play every day! 🙂