The August prompt for the Diabetes Social Media Advocacy blog carnival is all about mental health and reducing the impact of the emotional toll in caring for diabetes. This is an incredibly important topic and something that most of us, in some way or another, have felt in our journey with diabetes.
When I was thinking about how I wanted to address this, the word that stuck out to me wasn’t emotional or toll or even diabetes. It was impact.
I recently started working at a local running store in town (in fact, today was my first day) but I have been interested in running for the past year, and “impact” definitely comes up a lot. The impact of running on the body, the impact of the ground on the joints, the impact of your foot, etc. They are all very important things to consider when running properly and getting fitted for the right shoes and supportive accessories, like shoe inserts.
For a lot of new runners, they just jump into running without the proper equipment. They might find a pair of old sneakers or maybe they just wasn’t something “cheap and easy” so they get something from Target or Sketchers or something. And they start running and they don’t really know how far or how long to run, so they might run a million miles before they are painfully injured, or they might realize how difficult running is right out the gate and they stop before they really give it their best effort.
I think this can be analogous to a life with diabetes.
Obviously we don’t have to wear special shoes for diabetes (although you can if you want). But you need proper education and proper support (from your running gear) to run well and reduce the impact on your body, and you also need proper education and support to reduce the impact diabetes will have on your mental health.
We get fitted with the right kind of shoes to lessen the impact that running will have on our bodies. There are a ton of different kinds of shoes, with orthotics and inserts to make it even better. I like to think of the diabetes community as our collection of shoes and orthotics. It’s not terribly sexy, but I think it’s true. There is no one “right” shoe, and I don’t think there’s one right way to get emotional support either.
Some people are going to dive right into the fast-paced Twitter, others might enjoy a more thoughtful blogging experience. Others will have an easier time with Facebook (especially if they are already on it), while others might want their diabetes support completely offline and choose to go to a local support group. Some people might find they get the most support from going to local expos and conferences, and others might be perfectly happy receiving the latest issue of Diabetic Living or Diabetes Forecast.
The point is, we’re all different. The way we can lesson the impact of diabetes in our lives will be different, and yet it is important to find something because diabetes will have an impact in your life. The gravity of the Earth and the gravity of diabetes cannot be avoided, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that what works for me will work for you. Trying things on and testing them out will let you know whether something is working and helping to stabilize you.
So the prompt asks specifically “what should a parent or PWD do to lessen the emotional impact of caring for diabetes?” and I honestly don’t know. I don’t think I could answer that. It’s like if someone asked me what shoe they should buy for running. There are so many things that influence the answer that it wouldn’t fair for me to just say one thing over another.
But what is true is that there is an impact. There is an impact to running and there is an impact to living with diabetes. You can’t escape it and you can’t ignore it. The only thing you can do is address it head on and figure out what is going to help you the most.