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

The Concept of Time: Reflections after this Month’s JDRF #t1d Support Group

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What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Ah that old mantra meant for bachelor/bachelorette parties that leave little, if any, scandalous photo evidence.

That motto serves as the unspoken pact between the group. Everyone knows that anything that happens during Vegas time is off limits.

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Same goes in our JDRF #t1d adult support group. Logic would tell you it’s hard to trust a bunch of people who for some, are often strangers, but there’s something about these people that make me feel safe.

There are times where I ask myself, “Why am I here? It’s out of the way and really, I think I’m managing okay.” Sometimes I even proclaim, “Nah, I don’t need to come back”. But EVERY. SINGLE. TIME…I end up returning.

 

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The benefits can’t be explained well, because I can’t even describe the feeling I get. It’s just comfy. And nice. And I can say whatever without explaining. And I can be totally distant and quiet, loud and angry and it doesn’t matter. There’s really no judgement.

I’m sad to hear that these types of group don’t exist everywhere. How can we change that? What is the best way to make sure that everyone is able to be part of something like this?

Let the month of diabetes awareness begin!

If ever there is a time to get out there and connect with fellow t1d’s, it’s this month. There are loads of events happening in Toronto (and across Canada of course) and I wanted to share with you some of them so you can book those days off and meet up with your friends who just ‘get it’.

The earliest event is coming up on Wednesday:

I’ve interviewed both Michelle and Sebastian and trust that this talk will leave you feeling so much better about your diabetes management.

Call Calgary home? Why not mix and mingle with Connected in Motion?

Their next event is on Nov. 4th. Click here for more details! 

Sports your thang? Check out this event. Toronto Argos dress in blue too. #twinsies

And on World Diabetes Day, Nov. 14th, the annual Type 1 Update hosted by Animas will take place once again!

I go to this event every year (I went in the spring) and I think this may be the first one I miss which makes me really sad. I’ll be sure to cover the event in whatever way I can though. This 1/2 day has always lifted my spirits and made me feel more confident. I hope you can attend this one! Don’t forget to RSVP to Robin.
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There’s so many more events but here are the highlights. Feel free to comment and share any other events that you know of this going on this month.

And one more thing! What’s an awareness month without some profile pic changes? Check out this awesome campaign #T1DLooksLikeMe and get yours here.

XO

Jess

JDRF Ride for Diabetes Research: How Far Would You Go?

These fundraising events are a great excuse to get off early, push back the paperwork and all the while make your company look good. After all, fundraisers are fundraisers right?

Well no. Actually that’s complete bull. Maybe you don’t know much about type 1 diabetes or maybe you do. If you chose to participate in this year’s JDRF Ride for Diabetes Research in Canada I’m going to have to tell you that what you did in one afternoon created great potential.

It gives people like me hope. I see people who often don’t have any affiliation with the cause, listen with the ears open and understand and hear first hand what it’s like to live with this disease day in and out. You sweated and pedalled with hundreds of others. And in that process of moving each pedal forward, it has brought hope to so many like me.

After so many years, my doctor confirmed to me recently that I do, indeed have Type 1 diabetes (not any other kind, there are many!). And when I saw all the action that took place at the Metro Convention Centre, I got damn emotional.

It just goes to show that people have good in them. They want to help. Physical activity breeds power and positivity. Thank you to all who participated.

Recently I have been feeling so defeated. So tired. So mentally at the end of my rope. Being able to witness events like these gives me that push to keep going. To not give up. To remember that there are people out there who are willing to give their time (their most precious commodity) to help people they don’t even know.

It means so much to me that you rode your heart out.

XO,
J

50 sec video: Connected in Motion’s Skate Night

Am I going back in time to the roaring 20’s? Yes, yes I am. Enjoy the video.

Location: Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Hot food never tasted so good! It was pretty cold out yesterday but a bunch of us type 1’s laced up and skated through the night. Lots of laughs, lots of fun-always the way with Connected in Motion!

XOXO,

J

Sebastien Sasseville making way to Toronto, leaves hometown Quebec with amazing memories

Courtesy Outrun Diabetes

Courtesy Outrun Diabetes

Sebastien Sasseville is making his way to Toronto!

7, 500km. 180 back to back marathons in 9 months. He’s been running since February where he started his journey in St. John’s, Newfoundland. This once-in-a-lifetime event is called Outrun Diabetes.

Sebastien is now in Ontario after a whirlwind experience in his home province, Quebec.

Current location: between Bainsville and Kingston.

 

If you’re looking for more Outrun Diabetes content, check out the new web series sponsored by Biotherm Homme here.

All photos courtesy of Outrun Diabetes.

© t1dactiveliving.com All Rights Reserved.

Connect.

Outrun Diabetes | Website | Twitter Facebook Instagram |

Sebastien Sasseville | Website | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn |

Shawn Shepheard | Website Twitter | Facebook |

Make sure to follow Patrick’s Instagram account too.

Read more.

Outrun Diabetes update: Montreal will welcome Sebastien Sasseville, cross-Canada run nearly 1/3 complete

Sebastien Sasseville runs home to Quebec celebrations, passes 2,000km mark

Just hold on we’re going home: Sebastien Sasseville nears Quebec

Sebastien Sasseville out of Nova Scotia and into New Brunswick

Sebastien Sasseville #MCM t-shirts hit the market, Outrun Diabetes fans go crazy

Sebastien Sasseville hits 1,000 km mark on run across Canada

Outrun Diabetes update: Crazy photos of Sebastien Sasseville’s run across Canada

Sebastien Sasseville confesses before his run across Canada: I suck.

 

 

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5 lessons I learned from the JDRF infosium in Toronto

photo 5-21. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. 

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Beauty and the Beast actor and guest speaker Austin Basis was extremely active growing up.

He played basketball, baseball and hockey. He wanted to be an MLB player.

Sports taught him to always be prepared and to learn and acknowledge the signs his body gave him.

2. The bionic pancreas is giving people hope.

Dr. Steven Russell had the audience in applause after this slide:

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The closed-loop artificial pancreas blood glucose control system continuously monitors blood glucose levels. Fast-acting insulin and glucagon gets delivered based on a computer algorithm.

So, no more carb counting or guessing what stress and exercise would do to your bg’s. This device does all the work. Russell said the ambitious date of release to the public is 2017. Find out more here.

Click on any photo and browse

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 3. It’s 100 per cent okay to acknowledge how difficult diabetes is. 

Closing speaker Joe Solowiejczyk is a nurse, diabetes educator and family therapist. He’s been living with type 1 diabetes for over 50 years.

I’ve heard Joe speak before and although I’ve heard his sentiments before, it was so nice to hear them again.

Diabetes sucks. It’s like a full-time job. Yes Joe!

My favourite quote of the night by Joe was this, “I am exhausted. I hate having diabetes. I love being alive.”

We are all troopers and need to remember that.

4. People will be ignorant. Rise above it. 

I used to get mad. Very mad. Steaming mad really when I saw a joke about diabetes or when people assumed I didn’t take care of myself or ate too much sugar. The rage I felt was downright scary, and it would quickly spiral into moments of deep sadness and frustration.

Joe made a great point about those who are ignorant towards type 1 diabetes.

Can you say that you have NEVER made a comment that might have shown ignorance about a medical condition?

What do YOU know about other health conditions? Some people are ignorant. Others are just stupid.

Not knowing about type 1 diabetes hurts because it’s personal.

Brush it off. Educate if you want (I try to!). Focus on the positives and spend your time with people who do the same. This has been one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from t1d.

5. Over-estimate the demand for diet pop. Here’s what was left at the end of the night.

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Connect.

Check out all the tweets from the event via Connected in Motion’s Storify

Austin Basis | Website | Twitter | Facebook |

Joe Solowiejczyk | Website | LinkedIn |

Dr. Russell Stevens | Bionic Pancreas |

JDRF Canada Infosiums

JDRF Canada | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

PHOTOS & Recap of the Power of Movement, Arthritis Research Foundation yoga fundraiser Toronto

Today I took part in Power of Movement, a yoga fundraiser for the Arthritis Research Foundation. Click on the photos below to follow the day’s events.

I blogged about the event earlier this month and why the cause has special meaning to me.

The Sheraton Hotel was a new and refreshing venue. The pretty lights above and big open carpeted space made for a comfy place to spend the morning. Yoga instructors David Good and Lisa Greenbaum led the class together. I really loved the format of them taking turns and felt they complimented each other well. Thanks for the lovely chat afterwards, you two both have an amazing energy.

Thank you to everyone who donated and provided me well wishes. Power of Movement, I’ll be back next year!

Follow Power of Movement on Facebook and Twitter.

J

Disclaimer: I was in no way compensated by the Power of Movement or any affiliated companies to write this post. My cousin Sabrina Young is the national event co-ordinator of Power of Movement and that’s how I found out about the event. This fundraiser is one I personally believe in. 

Hitting the gym with Shawn Shepheard, author of the new book Life is Sweet

“Instead of our usual coffee meet-up, do you want to hit the gym instead?”

That was the question I asked Shawn Shepheard aka. Sugar Free Shawn earlier this month and as the photo above proves, he was game!

Shawn is a friend, international speaker, motivator and diabetes advocate. Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the launch of his new book, Life is Sweet.

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During the event a few of Shawn’s friends went up to speak, and I was so happy to hear stories about how he has motivated others to reach their fitness goals.

His book is a collection of life stories that range from funny to heartfelt.

Running his first marathon? It’s in there. This guy is a 3 time marathoner, 7 time half-marathoner and a 5km/10km race pro.

Fitness Q&A with Shawn Shepheard

What is your current workout routine?

I currently play hockey twice a week and hit the gym 3 or 4 times a week.

What have you found to be helpful when exercising and managing your bg levels?
It’s really important to test your blood before working out and adjust accordingly.  I also always have juice or Dex 4 with me.
What is your favourite way to workout?
Hockey, hockey, hockey 🙂
How do you stay motivated to keep up your fitness routine?
I know I always feel better on days that I am exercising.
Do you have any fitness goals? 
Although I am active, I am nowhere near where I want to be with my health right now.  I am committed to making better choices with diet and exercise everyday and have a goal of dropping 50 pounds over the next 6 months.

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Congrats Shawn on a successful book launch. You have quickly become such a great friend and supporter of mine. I’ve been very blessed to have met so many wonderful people along this journey, you being one of them.

Thanks for sharing your fitness story with us and see you at the gym!

J

Canadian Diabetes Association’s Stress, Depression and Type 1 Diabetes Talk

Hey, I know you!

Towards the end of Leah Drazek’s presentation on mental health and type 1 diabetes, I happened to spot someone I had met at the JDRF type 1 adult support group in November.

I don’t know about you, but when I see someone and know they are type 1 as well, I get this surge of excitement and happiness. My face changes. I smile. And I feel 100 times better. Does that feeling ever go away?

We updated each other on how we were doing with our diabetes management, what’s been happening since we last saw each other and offered words of support. It was short and sweet, and although I didn’t know it at the time, it was something I really needed.

It’s just like being in a room filled with other type 1’s out there. The room was packed at the ING Direct Cafe in downtown Toronto, and I saw people of all ages and cultures. It was the first time I saw such diversity. If you read my previous post titled What it’s like to be the only Chinese type 1 diabetic you know, I think you’d understand how much this meant to me.

And from the audience to the speaker, that feeling continued on. As Drazek went through her slides listing stats and symptoms of mental health and type 1 diabetes, I started giving myself internal head nods and inside saying, “Yes! I’ve felt that. Oh! I can relate completely. I’ve been there!”

My note highlights

  • People with type 1 diabetes are over 3x risk of developing depression
  • Risk factors for developing depression with type 1 diabetes: female, poverty, few social support, stressful event, longer duration of diabetes, poor glycemic control, presence long term complications, physical inactivity
  • Symptoms: sadness, lack of pleasure in almost all activities, significant weight loss/gain, sleeping longer than normal, loss of energy, agitation, impaired concentration
  • How to deal: use supports such as family/friends, counselors, family doctors
  • Drink more water, less coffee, listen to music, exercise, spend time with people you like, positive self talk, antidepressant/anxiety medications, drink more h20
  • Be open and honest with your diabetes health care provider, they can better guide and provide resources

My live tweets: Canadian Diabetes Association’s Stress, Depression and Type 1 diabetes

Drazek shared personal stories about having a panic attack, how family changes impacted her stress levels and even what her blood glucose levels were before and after a recent car accident.

What made the experience worthwhile was having a fellow type 1 diabetic speaking right in front of me, being vulnerable and sharing her life in a very raw and honest way.

I walked away with more confidence, feeling less alone, and after exchanging numbers with my support group buddy, possibly a new friend.

J

Links:

Canadian Diabetes Association

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Contact List

American Diabetes Association Depression Information