I just recorded episode 5 of the LivingVertical Diabeticast and it may shock you to hear that I sort of cringe in late October knowing that November is “all about diabetes”. So rather than just keep my feelings to myself, I decided to share 5 reasons that the month of November and the inundation of all things diabetes are difficult for me. See, I don’t hate diabetes–or diabetes awareness. Quite the opposite, as I have dedicated much of my life to sharing and promoting awareness. It’s just hard to live with diabetes and spend your life streamlining diabetes as a condition so it doesn’t require constant attention being drawn to it–and then turn around and have a month where you have to undo all of that in order to get people to notice all the effort of the previous 11 months!
1 My life isn’t all about diabetes in reality. It’s a tiny part of my focus each day. It’s taken me years to get it dialed in to this point.
2 Awareness means different things to different people–the awareness that I seek to raise among others with diabetes is different from the awareness needed for the general public. Different audiences, different messages. It’s grueling keeping two scripts up to date.
3 Advocacy burnout is a real thing. People get burned out from doing the same thing day in and day out with their medical care–and the same thing happens with advocacy such that it almost becomes like having diabetes twice over. It’s hard to talk about because all the effort of advocacy is about creating a positive change, but we all get burned the hell out. The fact that it feels “wrong” to vent about it–makes it even harder.
4 I don’t always have much to say about diabetes. It’s like when I see my endo–“Yup, I still have diabetes. Yup, I still take the same insulin. Still have highs and lows. What’s new with you?”. All month long people are full of energy and advocacy and clever things to say or do and I just hear crickets chirping in my head. How can I not have anything to say about diabetes?
5 Awareness is abstract. It means a multitude of things and its value is impossible to quantify across the board. It’s not a hard science–yet it changes peoples lives, so I can’t walk away from it. I love it and I hate it all at once.
At the end of the day, these are 5 reasons that I hate this month–because it’s really hard for me. These are not 5 reasons why this month is “bad”. On the flip side, once I take the focus off myself to look around and see how this month impacts the community (not just me as an individual dealing with my efforts) that’s where it starts to track back towards the other end of the spectrum. People are all revved up and doing stuff amazing stuff. Smash Diabetes totally rocks and so does the BigBlueTest and the 100 Campaign. These are efforts that get momentum during this month and give others a chance to get involved who may not get to live in the hot zone like those of us who are full time advocates do. That’s a pretty special thing and it’s worth a little extra effort to be part of it.
I’d like to think that people read all the way through my blog/podcast and don’t run off to find a nice sharp pitchfork without hearing the full spectrum of my feelings. Not everything about diabetes and awareness advocacy is warm and fuzzy–and I’m ok with that, I’m just not ok with keeping that to myself.
LivingVertical is 100% grassroots. We rely on the support of people who appreciate our message for funding. If you’re one of these people, check out our STORE and throw us a few bones!