Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at. Today let’s look at the flip-side. We probably all have one thing we could try to do better. Why not make today the day we start working on it. No judgments, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on!
Well on the flip side of not being all that good at taking time out to celebrate my achievements in yesterday’s topic, this one I have got covered. I have been far better over my life at telling myself all of the things I need to improve, get better at, do better with and generally, at beating myself up for all of the things I said, did, or did not say, did not do, or wished I did.
I guess that is part of being human.
I have come to learn it is also part of being a person with diabetes. We seem to be perfectionists and we seem to do an awful lot of self blame and self bashing. I am not sure if it is due to the messages we get about how easy is it to manage diabetes, about how if we just eat healthy, exercise and take our insulin/medication, check our blood glucose and be a good little girl or boy, it will all be ok. And if we don’t? WHAM. And that in fact, even if you do all these things diabetes does not play fair. That sometimes it is impossible to do these things. I challenge anyone who does not have diabetes to live the way we have to for just one day and see how it feels, what it is like.
When I started working in diabetes psychology I learnt a great trick which I try to use. When getting a high or low blood glucose reading, don’t call it “good” or “bad” as you will wind up seeing yourself as good or bad. Don’t beat yourself up about it being high or low, have your initial emotional reaction and then move on to working out what to do about it and if possible, how to avoid it next time. This works. Sometimes.
Despite knowing this and working hard to practice what I preach, there are days when I get a high reading and still think “oh my god that is bad” and I still say to myself,”you SHOULD NOT have eaten that piece of lemon cake” etc etc etc……..this is one thing I could do better – give myself a break sometimes. I seem to have this inbuilt drive to be perfect, whatever that is, in all aspects of my life. And to be incredibly hard on myself. Sometimes I feel like there must be some huge person in the sky watching over me and checking my every move off a list as I feel so god damn accountable – to who or what I am not sure. I have worked for myself, from my home base for a decade and I still get so stressed out over deadlines (which essentially I create) and making sure I “do the right thing”. To be fair, I have had some pretty big people to be accountable to – firstly people living with diabetes, then those who have provided funding for our work over the years, including the generosity of those in the community who donate their time, love and money, to my amazing family for being on the ride with me and then, to myself.
But, sometimes I wish I could give myself a break. In diabetes and in life. Just take some time to drift for a day or so, to not think, to not worry and to say “you are doing ok kid and the world will not end if you don’t manage to do 6,456,745 things today. Just be a human being and not a human doing. Be a person, not a diabetic, for a moment.
So, my one thing to improve? Pretty big. But given how accountable I am to the world? I think I can do it. After all I do have diabetes and that means I can do anything.