Pssp.

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t1dactiveliving.

Creating this was only a few years ago, but it feels like a lifetime.

Writing hasn’t been easy.

Being vulnerable with your most intimate thoughts and feelings is hard. Incredibly hard at times.

I’ve been enjoying the “break” but I’m by no means leaving as a source of support.

 

The past while I’ve really been reflecting on what t1dactiveliving means. And what I want at the end of the day, is to help people, even if it’s just one person. So I’m planning something new, a different medium of connecting, in the hopes that others won’t feel as alone, confused and scared as I was.

That’s it for now. I hope you are all doing well.

 

 

The Body Shutdown: Feeling Like Your Body is Telling You to Die

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Last night, I think I consumed an all-time high of carbs. I was slurping in Coke with a straw, my lips barely able to grasp the stupid thing. Candy, chocolate, you name it, I ate it.

My stomach was churning and I just laid on my couch, feeling the energy being sucked right out of me.

That’s when things got weird. I’m not sure if I ever felt this way before (maybe I blocked it out of my mind), but last night, I felt my body shutting down slowly.

Breathing became eerily calm and slow. My body felt light and airy. My physical body felt defeated.

It was over an hour before I felt like something inside me sparked and back I came. This was one of the most frightening experiences. And yet today, if you saw me, it was like nothing ever happened.

This. is. invisible. illness.

Drawing it All Out: Body Mapping for Diabetes

 

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I’m lying down on a life-size piece of brown paper, having my body be outlined like I’m in kindergarten. At 33-years-old, I’m surrounded by paint, Mr. Sketch scented markers, and even crayons. Do I feel foolish or childish? Yeah.

This is what every Thursday looked like for me as I took my first ever Body Mapping For Diabetes workshop. It was a 6-week commitment that took me on a wild ride through my life…back before my diagnosis and into the depths of my belief systems about what it meant to live with a chronic illness.

“Participants will be using a life-sized sketch of themselves to map out their own narrative of diabetes. These stories will provide the basis for conversations around some of the challenges of living with diabetes. No background in drawing or art is required.

The body mapping technique was first developed by artist Jane Solomon, in her work with women living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa.”

-DiabetesTalk.ca

Don’t get it twisted: the inner work was hard. It wasn’t as if I drew myself on a large paper and finally had some type of cookie-cutter Hollywood ending (me and diabetes holding hands into the sunset).

There were days that what I discovered was painful. And confusing.

When you take action to deal with your relationship with any illness, it’s important to realize that you will be opening yourself up to vulnerability and for me, it included a lot of shame. I still struggle today with telling people I have diabetes. Deep deep down, I feel that I am flawed, that I’m “damaged goods”, and that their rejection of me means I’m just not worthy to be here.

What this program reaffirmed and brought to light was that I am much more than someone who lives with diabetes. It is so easy to create a single-story narrative of your life, when in fact, there are so many facets that make you, you. And knowing that is essential to healing.

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Getting back to basics is an incredibly powerful tool. During this art therapy, I drew out circles of my support system, illustrated major life events since birth and symbolized the effects of diabetes both mentally and physically. What I just described is only the tip of the iceberg.

I wish this was available sooner. I’m eternally grateful that I got the chance to see this program from start to end, and now, like always, I move forward armed with more knowledge, another form of support and most of all, hope for a brighter future.

To learn more about Body Mapping for Diabetes, click here.

J

Confessions on World Diabetes Day #WDD

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I’m not going to search “cure for diabetes”, because in all likelihood, I’m going to get results such as tea from Asia, a pill from a company with no address or some type of scary diet that involves me only eating with my left hand and on Tuesdays.

I don’t live day by day hoping for a cure. A cure doesn’t even cross my mind as something feasible. Maybe that’s the pessimist in me but I really live like there will never be a cure.

Maybe that’s a blessing and a curse all rolled into one.

Now, four years later since my diagnosis, I am sure of a few things that I never thought I would be.

  1. Whatever you think is bad, could be much worse.

Diabetes puts things into perspective. Fast. To say that I hit my anxiety and depression bottom at the time of my diagnosis would be a huge understatement. Although it was a burning, incredibly painful, dark time, I have come to realize that things could have been much, much worse.

I am alive. I have access to insulin. I am not in danger of being killed for having a disease. I try to think of this as much as I can. Things can always be worse.

2. It is up to us to help break the barrier when it comes to talking about mental health.

I’m surprised at how little support there is when it comes to mental health and diabetes. It’s certainly something I had to fight for in my own health journey. We have to raise our voices and create, demand and advocate for more resources. So many suffer in silence, and we are at a pivotal time where we can help bring this issue to light.

3. We all want self-acceptance. We all want to feel unconditional love. Diabetes and any other autoimmune disease can make this process 100 x more difficult. For me, it’s been such a treacherous road. And I’m not sure what lies ahead. All I know is, I am so incredibly thankful for the people I’ve met through my diabetes journey. I couldn’t imagine life without them. So to you, you know who you are…thank you. You guys have pulled me out of storms and I hope to spend my life providing you the same type of love and encouragement that you’ve shown me.

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Happy World Diabetes Day,

Jess

 

 

 

Back to Lantus and Humalog

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In another country, with no short-acting insulin, I started to panic and texted my fellow d-friend. I was higher then I’d been in years, super sleepy and out of it.

At that time I was just on Lantus, after a failed attempt at trying oral meds. New endo, new treatment experiment, same result. I need insulin. Period.

 

After what feels like a rollercoaster ride, I am back to where I started, on Lantus and Humalog (a short and long acting insulin). I could be screaming, “Why the hell did I go through all that?!” but I’ll take it and say that it’s just part of the process when they can’t figure out a concrete type for ya.

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These past few weeks have done a number on me. Crazy lows, waking up in the middle of the night in a daze (or not remembering at all) and jumps in bs levels that make me want to nap and or puke the day away. I’m exhausted.

I realize now that I’ve been living with x diabetes for about 4 years. Where does the time go? And the issues I have with this disease are quite the same as I started. Mental exhaustion, and the ongoing quest for peace and balance with a disease that feels like it has none.

So…does this mean pump time? If after all this, I am insulin-dependent, then does that mean the next step would be a pump? I guess I’m always striving for the ‘next step’ if that makes any sense. It feels like I’m pedalling backwards with all this testing and unanswered questions. Just diagnose me, treat me with what works and let’s all move on.

I count my lucky stars that I have so many d-friends to support me. Now, time to inject…

Drip Drip Drip. Sweat Does The Body Good

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So this is my sweat. It may be gross to some, smelly to others, but to me, it’s beautiful. It’s hard earned drops of glory.

Sweating means I’m putting in effort. I’m in it. My body is moving.

When I’m stressed, anxious or depressed, dripping from head to toe can often be my saving grace.

It apparently helps rid the body of toxins, makes your skin better and prevents colds and infections. That’s according to this article right here.

I don’t doubt the benefits of sweat and hope the next time you see a dampened shirt in the mirror, you smile.

J

 

 

When Silence Matters

 

Sometimes taking a step back is just as important as being present.

I’ve been having a really rough time. I’ve been exhausted. And just wondering how to continue on. I remember my life before all the health problems-and yet it feels like forever ago.

I know I have to. Because there are people who love me, and there’s a journey I need to take to get to a better place-so I can give back to the world too. But oh, my, this is tough.

It’s been an amazing experience to just go offline. To put the phone away and just be. To not distract myself and face pain head on.

One thing that has really helped me is humour. Watching standup shows and comedies.

Here is one of my favourites!

 

Hugs,

J

Don’t give me flowers. Spare A Rose, Save A Child-IDF Campaign

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Equivalent: two coffees at Starbucks. Less than 2 rides on Toronto Transit.

The concept is simple. Spare one rose this Valentine’s Day (’bout $5) and instead donate to help save a child with diabetes. Click the rose right below to learn more.

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Did you click? Click it!

Move more mountains. Look what you can do for such a small amount each day.Spare A Rose 1

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This is about our community, providing lifesaving supplies to those in need.

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Check these stats from 2014:

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Let’s make this Valentine’s Day the best one yet. So don’t get me flowers, give to the Spare A Rose campaign.

Becoming a JDRF Adult Support Group Regular

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I’m committed to going on the regular. 2016 is the year of consistency, and for me, that means attending the JDRF adult support group every month. I went in December and tonight and I can say for me the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

Perspective: Although I still feel new and often lost at times within the bunch (in person and online)-I get to meet others who are at all different stages: the veterans, the newly diagnosed, it’s really a mixed bag and it offers a lot of different perspectives.

The greatest advantage is walking away after a few hours and knowing I was in a room with a bunch of people who just get it. I can’t really put a price on that or even describe the magnitude of that pro but let’s just say it’s pretty big for me. Let me stuff my face with cookie crumbs hanging from my lip. Taking 5 pee breaks during the session. No explanation needed.

Mentally, it gives me a power up. Like in Mario!

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And now that I’ve been to the meetings enough times, my name card is set out on the table and I know a lot of faces who come to the table. I’m not as nervous as before and I can tell physically that my body is more relaxed. I’m not worrying about how I look or if I’m slouching. I’m just Jess.

That type of familiarity is especially important to me since there has been so much change in my life the last while.

We all want to feel we belong. We all want to be acknowledged. And this group does just that for me.

Next week I have a date with two type 1 friends and when I take inventory, a lot of my close friends now are people living with type 1. That, including some of the interaction I have with people on social media, I have to say there’s a community in-person and online that adds up to something I can’t take for granted in 2016.

This will be a big year for me in so many ways, and with a good team, new endocrinologist and hospital (which I have yet to meet, fingers crossed), place, and fresh new business adventures, it will be one big ride.

Has a support group helped you? Who is part of your diabetes community?

Sending lots of support to you need it, and even if you feel you don’t.

I will do everything -right- and my blood sugars will still do whatever it wants. I will have huge victories and sometimes feel defeated. no matter what though, every day i'm going to set out to try. i will think about how i want my life to

XO,

Jess

 

 

I am not a diabetic.

When I first watched this amazing piece by Prince EA, I thought to myself- I haven’t really admitted to all the nasty things I believe when I label myself. Trust that I can be extremely harsh and abusive.

Sometimes it’s this:

It’s about that label of being a diabetic. Living with diabetes. However you call it.

What have I started and continue to believe about myself with a type 1 diabetes diagnosis, a neurological disorder, hearing impairment?

How do I break this down, shatter these assumptions holding me back? I think it’s first by getting over the fear and starting to share my thoughts.

Here I go.

XO,

J