National Diabetes Week 2014, check your judgement

It’s National Diabetes Week 2014, which is a week really focused on encouraging people to recognise their risk of type 2 diabetes, and to prevent more and more people developing this rapidly exploding and potentially devastating condition.

It is the same every year. This usually leads to lots of people saying “what about type 1?” or “what about me?”

I totally get that, but alongside this vital annual campaign to try and prevent the devastation of type 2 diabetes, there are many other great campaigns that stem from this important week, such as the Australian Diabetes Council’s focus on mental health which we commend them for. This is also a time for us to pull together, to stand united and recognise the terrifying rate at which type 2 diabetes is developing in communities all over the world, no matter what type of diabetes you have, or whether you even have diabetes. It is not the time for in fighting or fragmentation within the diabetes community.

Sometimes I think we all get too focused on diabetes, too involved in it, too insular. Do you have an “other”? Something else that you do each day, which is unrelated to diabetes? Some of you may know I do, something which is not related to diabetes or Diabetes Counselling Online. For the past 35 years I have lived with type 1 diabetes and for the past 14 years, I have lived and breathed diabetes in my work as well. Starting this service back in 2001, progressing to study diabetes education, working full time to support people living with diabetes, moving to start my PhD and spending every waking and sleeping minute, focused on diabetes. That can’t be healthy can it?

I remember being told by one awful person when I started Diabetes Counselling Online, that “people with diabetes can’t work in diabetes – they carry too much baggage”. And that is so not true. In fact it is the opposite. People with diabetes can work in diabetes – because they carry baggage. Because they get it. Because they know what it is like to struggle. Because they also carry genuine compassion and understanding that is not learnt from a textbook, or university.

What happened for me last year, is that life became unbalanced. Tipped. Completely heavy on the diabetes side of the scales and very little else. And so I started my Interiors Blog and Interior Styling practice. Suddenly life swung back into a better balance, and there is now so much more in my life than diabetes. And I feel better about diabetes because of that. Even if it has been playing VERY unfair for me lately.

I hear so many stories of people living their lives consumed by their own diabetes. I was consumed by other people’s. Now, I feel more at peace with this fact. Sometimes when I hear a person with diabetes pick on another person with diabetes I think, do you have nothing in your life but your own diabetes? Are you so consumed by it that you don’t hear what you are saying to this other human being, this person alongside you who is also struggling with their own diabetes journey?

This week at this pivotal time for the Australian diabetes community, I think we all need to hold onto our compassion when we talk about ANY person with ANY type of diabetes. Remember you are not the only person struggling. Remember we all have our own journey. We may have different types of diabetes and different reasons for having it, but diabetes has similar impacts on all of our lives.

And how about you? Do you feel your life scale is tipped on the diabetes side? Maybe it is time to throw something else into your life too and while you are at it, check your judgement at the door.




1 Comment

  1. helwild on July 15, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Thank you Helen. A great reminder that diabetes chooses us, not the other way around. And that there is more to life for everyone involved. Life will keep happening to us, there will be other difficulties. As someone who lives with type 2, works in diabetes, and being the Mum of a type 1, there have been many days when my mum’s dementia, my auntie’s death, my husband’s respiratory illness, playing with my young grandchildren, walking in the Hills have all been more important to me than anyone’s diabetes. I expect there will be many more.