Over the weekend, I was fortunate enough to meet a long-time online friend, Jess aka Saucygurl915 on Twitter. We both happened to be visiting Boston on the same day, so we met up for drinks to talk about work, travel, Boston, wedding planning, and of course, diabetes!
One of the things that came up was some discussion surrounding guilt in diabetes. It’s a feeling that all of us have felt at one time or another, whether from diabetes or some other health-related issue, like exercise or eating right.
I try to not let guilt infiltrate my life with diabetes. I know — easier said than done! But I don’t find guilt very productive or beneficial for me, and I don’t find it very accurate most of the time either. But it took a long time to get this way and I shared a story with Jess about my coming to terms with guilt and life choices that I’m going to share with you now.
When I was in college, I saw a therapist. Like most college students, I was totally confounded by a lot of things going on in my life and some of these things really upset me. I started to see a therapist on a weekly basis, and one day as I was walking home from one of our appointments, I had an epiphany.
My epiphany was that diabetes was causing a lot of my emotional issues surrounding friends, relationships, school and that sort of thing. Not directly in the blood sugar related sense, but I realized that diabetes had not only affected my actions, it also affect my thoughts. Diabetes had actually wired my brain to look at situations in a certain way.
Basically, I had grown up to look at each situation where something wasn’t what I wanted and then ask myself, “What did I do wrong?” Because that was how it was in diabetes. That’s how I — all of us really — have been trained to look at our diabetes. Each time our blood sugar is out of range or each time our A1C starts edging upwards, we ask ourselves — and are even sometimes outright asked by our medical professionals — what went wrong?
I started taking that question “What did I do wrong?” and I applied it to every damn thing in my life. And you know what?
I didn’t effing do anything wrong!
That’s not how life works and that’s not how diabetes works either. Yes, sometimes you do something wrong. Sometimes it’s very obvious that you missed a bolus or you snapped at your husband. Sometimes we do things wrong — we’re human. Name of the game. But sometimes — hell, most of the time — we don’t do anything wrong. Just like you can’t control the actions of other people, sometimes you can’t control the actions of diabetes. You just do your best. You anticipate what is likely to happen and you react appropriately with whatever comes your way. But you can’t become an emotional mushball every time something goes wrong.
If you know what you did wrong, excellent. No, really. Lesson learned and you can move on and hopefully not make the same mistake twice. But if you don’t know what happened, don’t assume it’s necessarily your fault. Sometimes it’s the other guy’s (or pancreas’) fault.
I’m not going to feel guilty over something that I have nothing to be guilty or sorry for. Figuring out this crap is hard, just like marriage is hard and child-rearing is hard. There’s no manual telling you how to control things that cannot possibly be controlled. If you are putting in the effort, then you have nothing to be sorry for.
If you are putting in the effort to manage your diabetes, you are doing absolutely nothing wrong.