Monday, 16 May 2016

Diabetes Blog Week: Why do I blog? #DBlogWeek

Today is the first day of #DBlogWeek. The topic for today is 'Message Monday', which basically poses the big question: "Why?" Why do we blog? Why do I blog? What is the purpose, what brings me to my laptop every so often to write a post for the diabetes community?

When I started this blog in March 2013, it was not long after I had joined Twitter for the first time in August 2012. The Great Britain Diabetes Online Community otherwise known as #GBDOC, were one of the first diabetes-related Twitter accounts that I engaged in, and from there it opened up a whole new world to me, a world of diabetes advocacy and D-Bloggers from both the UK and the US. It was fascinating, I loved that there were so many people being pro-active and doing something about their diagnosis with diabetes, using it to raise awareness and make their voices heard. One of my first blog posts I wrote was not on my own blog, but for the #GBDOC's website, so I suppose you could say I have them to thank for igniting the spark that made me create my blog!

I soon realised my blog was a brilliant outlet for me, I found myself logging onto my laptop when I wanted to rant about something, I went to my blog when I had something diabetes-related to get off of my chest. I told myself I was going to keep it up, and I did, I religiously blogged especially for the first year and a half and I really dedicated that time to getting my blog out there and getting people to read it. Through Twitter and Facebook, I then discovered a whole bunch of brilliant people, who also have diabetes and who read my blog and who encourage me to keep it up. I discovered 'diabuddies', 'd-friends' and other diabetes lingo! So not only was my blog a creative outlet for me to rant, not only was it therapeutic for me to post on it, but it became a way to connect with other people living with Type 1 Diabetes, and share stories and experiences, and support one another.

My blog was the reason Diabetes UK knew about me and invited me to speak in Parliament for them in June 2013, it then opened up a whole other world of public speaking, something I never knew that I have a little bit of a knack for, I had a new found confidence in myself through it all and before I knew it I was speaking in Parliament again in 2014, this time for JDRF. People thanked me for standing up and being a voice for them, people congratulated me on doing what I do, advocacy and being an ambassador for this disease was something that I enjoyed, and I continue to raise awareness for Type 1 Diabetes through this blog.

I love my blog, it's one of my biggest achievements and the fact that it reached over 10,000 views in the first few months alone had me beaming with pride, to be at over 70,000 views 3 years later leaves me without a doubt that this is something I want to continue to do. It has even sparked my desire to go into Social Media and editorial careers. I get to look back on my years of life with Type 1 Diabetes and I enjoy reading old blog posts about good or bad diabetes moments, to see how far I've come, to gain motivation, to find inspiration, to document the highs and lows of a life with diabetes, to get myself back on track when I've fallen out of routine and to show myself I can do it.

So why am I here? For a number of reasons actually, to be an advocate, to help myself through diabetes, to connect with other people who live with diabetes and to continue being part of a wonderful online community.

Monday, 9 May 2016

A letter: Diabetes burnout

whom it may concern,

If you're feeling burnout, you're probably not too sure what it is you're experiencing at the moment, it's a time that leaves you wondering what it is that's going on, why have you lost the desire to control your blood sugar? Diabetes burnout is probably one of the biggest challenges a diabetic might face, it is a huge barrier to overcome. The feeling of defeat, the sense of failure, the lack of motivation to look after yourself, can weigh you down immensely and leave you pushing diabetes and all that it entails to the back of your mind. I've been there, so if you're in this position, I know how you're feeling. Even more so, I know that whatever you're feeling right now, you can come out the other side.

I know that a lot of Health Care Professionals tend to ignore the emotional side of a life with Type 1 Diabetes, we have a massive responsibility right from the moment we're diagnosed. Immediately it becomes ours and our parents duty to keep us alive...and I feel like in the moment, a lot of people don't have the time or the capacity to fully absorb it, you go with the diagnosis and you get on with it- because right there, at that point, your focus is on "Ok, so what do I have to do to control this?" The frustrated thoughts come after, when you're more comfortable with Type 1 Diabetes and your mind starts to wander. Am I right? I feel like that's what process my emotions went through. When frustrations occur, you begin to push diabetes out, it all gets a bit overwhelming, and with that comes lack of motivation. Being your own pancreas is tiring, and sometimes we don't just get physically tired, but tired deep down, a tired soul.

I won't say diabetes burnout is denying it, because I don't think that's it. I spent a good two years feeling like I was stuck in a rut with my diabetes control and for the longest time I could not put my finger on consultant tried to get me to see a psychologist and I always said no, I would go when I knew what I was feeling, when I knew why I always had a HbA1c of over 10% and as bad as it sounds I didn't care. I don't think you're in denial, you're tired of the emotions, it's easier to ignore it, isn't it? It's easier to stay high and not check your blood sugar because you know it's high, and seeing the number on your blood sugar meter probably won't make you take a correction's easier to just eat and not bother injecting or bolusing because then you don't have to carb count, or take an injection or get your insulin pump's all thought processes like that, that I think make up diabetes burnout. It shouldn't be easy or the better option to ignore your health, but when you're feeling burnout with diabetes you lose that motivation, you find yourself not caring about something that you should care about, and you know that you're putting yourself at risk of complications, you know full well the strain you are putting your body through but it's not enough, it won't kick start you into looking after your blood sugar.

When I was admitted to hospital for nearly 3 weeks to get my blood sugar back under control, all the emotions that diabetes entails came back to me. I remembered what it was to fear having a hypo, I remembered what it was to have calloused fingers, but above all I remembered what it was to feel okay again. Through all the rubbish that diabetes puts us through, through everything that we get tired of, we feel well. I had to take that moment, I had to grab it with both hands and keep it...that moment of remembering why we do what we do, why we have to do what we do. What I say to you is, find that interest in your blood sugar again, make a pact to yourself that when you get up in the morning you will check your blood sugar and give insulin, it's a start, it will help you get back into routine...and then take that interest in what your next blood sugar might be as a result...I found that is what helped me immensely. Tell yourself that you're worth it, you're worth the fight, fight for yourself, find that light, find that motivation, we all have it! If and WHEN you get that desire back, run with it.

Another thing I will say to you is do not be too proud or too stubborn to accept help. I was like this for a very long time in that I would not go and see a psychologist, mainly because I didn't see the need because I had to understand what I was going through myself before trying to explain it to anyone else, but also because I did not want anyone to think I was "crazy" and after constant reassurance from my parents and my consultant that I am not mad if I go and see a psychologist, and after having time to think about it I agreed. It helped, it really did. Even if you feel like there is no point, you might find that voicing your thoughts is a really helpful exercise. So, if you have the chance to see a psychologist, if your diabetes clinic has that service available to you, take advantage it.

I'll leave you with this, unfortunately we're stuck with this until they find a cure. It's not going to go away. and giving yourself some TLC and working hard to get that motivation back is SO worth it, it is not worth ignoring your feelings of burnout, I know it's hard when you get stuck in that rut, but don't put your health in danger any longer, you are stronger than burnout you know you can do it deep down, I would always say that I couldn't do it and that I'm "rubbish" at looking after diabetes, but when I achieved a HbA1c of 7.3% I said to myself that if ever I felt burnt out again, to remind myself I've overcome it once before and I can do it again, and when you finally overcome it the sense of pride will be wonderful, trust me.

I know it's tough and it's frustrating and it's easier to ignore it, tell yourself it's not easier to ignore it, although the complications do not scare you if you're feeling burnt out, it is not going to be easy having a body that's been ruined by Type 1 Diabetes- don't let it ruin you, don't let it control you. Trust me, you will find that sense of motivation again, you will get back into routine and that want to control diabetes again will return and when you find it, hold on to it.

Someone who knows exactly what you're feeling