This year I’ve been hurtling through life at 100%, all guns blazing. I love being busy, but one thing has suffered, and it’s been my diabetes.
My day would typically involve teaching all day, replying to DEDA emails and posts from members while doing my grocery shopping, calling a parent on the drive home because I didn’t have time at lunch (debating coaching/production rehearsal/kids wanting a chat/meetings/anything OTHER than what was originally on my to-do list), and trying to smash out a few hundred words of a Masters assignment while eating another 10-minute-frozen-vegie-and-rice-poor-excuse-of-a-stir-fry. My mind would zero in on something that day – maybe I had said something ‘stupid’ in a staff meeting or someone in Coles had looked at me funny – and I’d lie in bed stressing over that one thing, tossing and turning until I eventually fell asleep.
My diabetes is super sensitive to stress. When I wear the Libre, you can literally see my BGL shoot skywards when I am confronted with a high stress situation, and no amount of bolusing or exercise will bring it down until the situation is resolved. The class where two students started fighting and I had to rip them apart?? >25 mmol for the rest of the day. The lead-up to co-ordinating Senior Diabetes Camp? Did not touch the blue zone once in a week! What’s more, this year has been a constant of background stress – there was always something in the back of my mind stressing me out, and my mental health would usually grab onto that and make it worse. Anxiety is a bitch!
However, since I’ve finished work, I’ve been rolling from the couch to the shower and back again. My daily routine resembles a retiree, complete with an addiction to daytime lifestyle shows and meals made for one. I spent an hour this morning doing yoga, then plonked myself on the couch and napped. My BGLs? SO MUCH MORE PREDICTABLE. I feel like I’ve cracked the code as to why my diabetes has been hard to manage this year – I’ve completely neglected self-care! I ‘m not saying that it’s impossible to manage diabetes when you’re stressed, but DAMN not having ten balls to juggle whilst balancing on a Masters unicycle makes a difference! I’m able to breathe, and I’m so much more able to take a step back and realise that my health is the most important thing.
I’ve battled this year. I’ve been to the emergency department a few times thanks to gastro and pneumonia (thanks year 7s!), I’ve gained weight due to stress and aforementioned lack of self-care, and relationships have been short and blurry. My hba1c is in the 9s, and I’ve been out of range way more than I’d like.
However, I’ve achieved a damn lot. I spoke at an international diabetes conference, went to some local ones, and met amazing people while doing it (still pinching myself over that one!) I graduated from my Masters degree with first-class honours and only had a couple of breakdowns. Same-sex marriage finally went through in Australia and I started embracing my sexuality and feeling more accepted by the society I live and thrive in. I discovered more of myself – they say that your personality starts to settle around 25, and I believe it. I discovered what I value, and what I don’t. Turns out, I don’t stand for bullshit, run from the ideal of a white picket fence (give it ten years and “Cool Aunt Georgie” will be a thing), and am less of an introvert than I thought (still obsessed with cats and HGTV though, no-one panic). I discovered how liberating accepting your body is, and how invasively diet culture has permeated every aspect of my being. I gained a lot of weight, but I also gained a load of self confidence and respect for myself. I became a better teacher, as evidenced by the links with my students and the growth that they had, and made friends for life – some who are nearly 20 years older than me but made me realise that age is irrelevant. When you find like-minded souls, hold onto them!
I’m taking a year off teaching to move to France, au-pair, and figure out my next step. I adore teaching, I adore advocacy, and I’m taking a year to figure out how to fit those both in my life without sacrificing my health and happiness. I want to throw myself into both of these things, but without sacrificing my diabetes management and mental health, In the wise words of Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation*…
I’m going to spend 2018 figuring out how to whole-ass this whole teaching and advocacy thing, whilst thriving with diabetes. I’ve been half-assing my diabetes all year, and in order to whole-ass my life, I need to whole-ass my management too. A year to focus on myself, my health, and my next step? Sounds divine.
*If you do one thing in 2018, watch Parks and Rec. You’ll thank me later.