Showing posts with label mental health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mental health. Show all posts

Thursday, May 15, 2014


I don't think I can say things any better than Kim did. She hit the nail on the head, precisely.

For me, what gets me down about diabetes is the mental and emotional side of things. As a person living with diabetes and mental health issues, life gets pretty rough sometimes. Diabetes + disordered eating + anxiety + depression = one hot mess Jess.

Sometimes it's hard to tell where diabetes ends and my mental health issues begin. They are all so completely intertwined. That's not to say that every day is awful. Because that's not true. I have good days and bad days. And the bad days seem to come in clumps. I'll have stretches of bad days. To be honest, I've been in the middle of a difficult stretch for the past few weeks. There's been a lot going on in my personal life. A myriad of smaller stressors that have left me feeling completely overwhelmed.

Stress can trigger my binge eating. Which triggers my anxiety. Which can trigger my depression. All of which can do a number on my blood sugars. It's all inexorably linked, like a spiderweb.

I may be a hot mess, but I've come a long way. This Mental Health Month, here's what I want you to know: you are not alone, and don't be afraid to seek help. Seeking treatment from a mental health professional was the best decision I could have made. Yes, I still have bad patches, but I've come so far. And things are so much better overall. I am better equipped to handle and process my feelings. The difficult patches don't last as long as they once did.

Like my grandma always said, this too shall pass. And depression lies.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Puppy Love

Josh and I have been thinking about getting a dog for a long time. We both wanted one, but were we ready for the responsibility?

A few weeks ago, we decided to visit a local shelter, "just to look." We saw a handful of dogs, but there was one that tugged at my heartstrings. But I had an appointment, so we had to leave and only got to spend a couple minutes with that dog.

I couldn't stop thinking about him. We rushed back to the shelter the next night, and thankfully he was still there. Nervous and uncertain, we decided to go for it and adopt this guy.

Meet Vader! (Yes, I'm a giant Star Wars nerd. But no, we didn't name him. That's the name he came with. And It's perfect.) He's part Shiba Inu, and part some other things we're not sure about. Vader is two years old, and he's doing great!

Josh and I are both SO HAPPY we decided to take the risk and adopt Vader. He's the perfect dog for us. We already can't imagine not having him in our lives.

And to bring this full circle here, Vader is having an impact on my diabetes and mental health. His endless energy is keeping us both more active, playing in the yard and going for walks. And it's hard to be in a bad mood with this sweet face wagging his tail at you, wanting to play.

Welcome home, Vader. We love you.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Last week, I had one of those days. One of those diabetes days, to be more precise. I was stuck in the 300s all afternoon for no apparent reason. Multiple correction boluses and a set change, and that blood sugar WOULD. NOT. BUDGE.

Making things even more frustrating, I was headed to dinner that evening at my parents' house. I was frustrated beyond words, shedding a few tears in the car on the way over. Thankfully, the yummy dinner my mom had prepared happened to be quite low carb, so at least I still got to eat.

My frustration was fairly obvious, so of course my family noticed. My mom, dad, and brother all gave me a hug and did their best to encourage me. Like they always do. I'm so blessed to have such an understanding and supportive family.

My aunt was at dinner too. She's like my second mom, and has been there since my diagnosis. She's also been a nurse as long as I can remember. A cardiac intensive care nurse, to be more specific. I know she worries about me and my diabetes, because of what's she's seen at work. She's seen people with some of the worst complications I can imagine. So you can see why she worries.

We were discussing the stubborn high, and I was telling her that I try not to get upset about it. But sometimes I can't help it. She looked at me and said, "Well, I think you're remarkable."

Tears instantly sprung to my eyes. Coming from her, that meant more than I can even describe. I hugged her, and tried not to cry.

The more I've thought about it, the more I've realized that she's right. Living a life in spite of diabetes or any other chronic health condition is pretty remarkable. WE are remarkable. If you live with or love someone with diabetes or any other condition, YOU are remarkable. You really are!

Just getting out of bed in the morning and making it through the day is a big deal, especially with an attention demanding disease like diabetes. But we do it, day after day. Some days are better than others, but we do what we can to take care of ourselves. That is remarkable.

WE are remarkable.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Little Encouragement

I couldn't do this without you guys.

Thanks so much for all the support after my last post. It helps more than you can possibly know. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

So Friday was my endo appointment. Thursday night, I was due for a set change. Which I did.  Fast forward to 4:30 am. I wake up all sweaty and gross. And my stomach hurts. I immediately reach for my Dexcom, which shows me north of 300. Apparently the glass coaster didn't make the alarms loud enough that night. A fingerstick confirms a blood sugar of 308. The stomach ache tells me I probably have ketones. 

Into the bathroom I go, and yep, that square turns dark pink. Moderate ketones, and a definitely defunct pump set. And an endo appointment in 4 and a half hours. Of course. Oh well. I change my set, drink some water, and go back to bed.

When I finally manage to get myself out of bed at 8am, my blood sugar is 195 and the ketones are gone. Yay! But I'd better hurry if I want to get to my endo appointment on time!

If you read this blog on a regular basis, then you know how much I love my endo. He's amazing. I apologized to Dr. H for my scatterbrained state, explaining my overnight adventures. He shook his head: "Ketones are no fun."

And then he said, "Everything looks great! Your A1c stayed the same, which is a good thing."

Wait, what? Did he just say my A1c stayed the same? Even after Thanksgiving and my battles with disordered eating? My A1c is still at a place we both agree is fantastic? Wow. Was not expecting that one, but I'll totally take it.

As Dr. H shuffled through papers, I could see my Dexcom printouts. And the very high lines that I knew showed Thanksgiving weekend. As he looked at the graphs, I said, "Yeah, Thanksgiving was hard. The highs are my fault."

Dr. H looked straight at me, unfazed by the high numbers. "You really do a good job."

Those words stopped my self-deprecation. Broke through the guilt. He reminded me that rough patches don't undo everything.

I left that appointment with a spring in my step and hope in my soul. A little encouragement makes a huge difference. Thanks Dr. H.

Now to find some coffee...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's Not About the Weight

Trigger warning: disordered eating, body image issues, depression.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional of any kind.  These are my personal thoughts, opinions, and experiences only.  Not medical advice.

It's not about the weight.  More specifically, it's not about MY weight.  At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

This is the lesson I am currently trying to learn.  I've been working on it for a while.  Dr. P was working on it with me, and J is helping me continue that work.

It is work.  Trying to unlearn years and years of behavior is difficult.  I've been overweight most of my adult life.  Actually, even before that.  My heaviest was in high school.  In college, I participated in a weight loss program.  At the time, it worked great for me.  I lost weight, changed my eating habits, and felt great.

But it didn't last.  In the years following my college graduation, my disordered eating became worse and worse, as did my (unrecognized and untreated) depression and anxiety.  All this led to a lot of weight gain.  And really high blood sugars.  And guilt.  And shame.

Then I found the DOC.  And for about six months, things were great.  I was high on the joy of finding my community.  Of no longer feeling alone.  Truly inspired to take care of myself and my diabetes, I reigned in my eating, improved my A1c, and lost weight.  Can you see the pattern emerging?  Because guess what?  It didn't last.

The binge eating was not going to just disappear.  Thanks to tremendous amounts of support from my family and DOC friends, I found the courage to ask for help--one of the hardest things I have ever done.  I've been in treatment for a couple years now.  There have been ups and downs, highs and lows, but treatment has changed my life.  I still struggle, but have come so far.

Which brings me back to my point.  It's not about the weight.  It can't be.  I focused on weight for years.  It doesn't work for me.  So I am trying to unlearn all that behavior.

It's not about my weight.  It's about being healthy.  Focusing on taking care of myself for the long term.  This is what I'm trying to do.  For me, that encompasses several things.  I try to eat healthy most of the time.  Packing and taking my lunch to work.  Eating fruits and/or vegetables with most meals.  Stocking my house with healthy foods and snacks.  Exercising at least three times a week.  And doing the best I can to care for my diabetes and all the challenges that come with it.

It seems like a tall order.  But I know it's doable.  Because here's the kicker: I don't always eat healthy.  I can't.  An all or nothing, very restrictive diet doesn't work for me.  When I restrict like that, I will binge and get stuck in that cycle all over again.  I know this from plenty of experience.

For me, being healthy sometimes means having a giant cheeseburger and fries.  Or pizza.  Or a doughnut.  Or my aunt's FANTASTIC apple pie.  Because if I indulge in those things I love sometimes, then I am much more successful at making healthier choices other times.  And the urge to binge remains mostly quiet.

It's about moderation.  Finding a balance between making healthy choices, while still indulging in not so healthy choices sometimes.  Because it's not about my weight.  It's about my health.  And I'll keep saying it until I believe it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Sorry guys, I've been a bit busy.  Still feeling pretty decent overall, just busy.  When I get home in the evening, I'm ready to sit and relax.  Haven't really been feeling like blogging.  But I have a minute here, so we'll go for it.

Following my awesome endo appointment, I had my first appointment with my new therapist.  This is my third therapist since I first asked for help.  The first one didn't have the ability to see me often enough, and my second one left the practice.  So we're on to number three.

The first session was pretty much a get to know you session.  We talked about why I sought help in the first place, what my particular disordered eating looks like, and the things that play into that, including diabetes.  My new therapist, we'll call her J, doesn't appear to have a lot of experience working with people with diabetes, but she seemed to understand the basics and wasn't making assumptions, so that's good.

We also talked about all the work I'd done with Dr. P.  J was saying what tremendous progress I've made.  And she's right.  Compared to where I used to be, I've come so far.  Thanks to treatment from some wonderful mental health professionals, and the support of my family, friends, and the DOC.  I left feeling uplifted, like when I left my endo appointment.  Another affirmation that the rough patches don't undo everything.

Like yesterday.  Yesterday was rough.  It's been a stressful week at work.  Yesterday afternoon, I binged some.  But here's the thing: it wasn't as bad as it could have been.  This is what helps me deal with the guilt and shame I feel.  Did I binge on too many cookies?  Absolutely.  But did I continue to binge the rest of the day?  No.  I binged, I stopped, and I was able to move on.  It didn't ruin my food choices for the rest of the day.

I am better.  Some days, that's incredibly difficult to remember.  Some days, I still get completely overwhelmed and feel like I'm barely hanging on.  But those days happen much less often now.  That is what I try to remember.

No matter what today holds for you, know that it will pass.  And the Diabetes Online Community is here for you.  You're never alone in how you feel.

As with my other therapists, J was amazed when I told her about the DOC.  About the support and understanding I've found.  And when I stop and think about it, it amazes me too.  Thanks, team.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I made a visit to my endo yesterday.  One week after my 20th diaversary.

On the way, I had the usual pre-endo jitters.  I don't think that will ever go away.  I actually hadn't been to see my endo in about six months, which is a long time for me.  We both had to cancel once, so two reschedules later, I was on the way.

I was a bit extra nervous because I've had a few rough patches in the last month.  My psychologist left the practice months ago, and I had yet to call the recommended replacement.  Four months is definitely too long for me to go without seeing a mental health professional at this point.  The binging was starting to work its way back into my life.

The day before my endo appointment, I finally stopped putting off that phone call.  I have an appointment with my new psychologist set for next week.  Despite the setbacks, I still feel like things are going ok overall.  With the end of summer and start of the new school year, I've been dealing with a lot of change and stress.  And I've still been able to function.  To work and still have energy to do other things in the evenings.  To not be so overwhelmed that I'm reduced to a pile on the sofa every night.

But still.  I was worried about my A1c.  As I always am.  But as soon as my endo walked through the exam room door, I started to feel better.  His reassuring smile and kind heart always make me feel better.  My A1c is about the same as it was six months ago, which is a huge relief.  Dr. H is pleased with my overall trends and settings.  A nice reminder that rough patches don't undo everything.  And a nice way to kick off my 20th year of living with diabetes.  I'll definitely take it.

Also, is 30 too young to have a midlife crisis?  Because I might have cut off my hair.  And I might love it.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Goodbyes are hard.

Wednesday evening was my last session with my therapist, Dr P.  She's leaving the practice, so it was time to say goodbye.  I'm not going to lie--it was hard.  She has helped me so much.  And you get to feel close to someone after spilling your guts week after week.

It was a good session.  We talked about what had happened since my last visit, and we talked about my ephiphany.  We also looked at how far I've progressed since I started seeing her.  She said she was proud of me.  Sniff.

I'm going to miss Dr. P.  It was hard to say goodbye.  When the session was over, she gave me a big hug, and told me I can always contact her if I need anything.  I'll admit, I shed a few tears on the way home.

In the coming weeks, I'll be transitioning to another therapist in the practice.  Dr. P is confident it will be a good match, and I trust her judgement.  Yes, things are going well, but I'm not comfortable going out on my own just yet.  I need to have someone in place I can talk to when I need it.

So Dr. P, I wish you all the best in your new adventures.  And thanks for all your help.  I know it's your job and everything, but still.  Thanks.  I couldn't have done it without you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Please Don't Retire Anytime Soon

Back before Thanksgiving, I made a trip to the endocrinologist.  I do this every three months.  But this visit was different.

In my nineteen years of living with Type 1 Diabetes, I have only had two endocrinologists.  When I was diagnosed at age 10, I started seeing a pediatric endo at my local children's hospital.  Dr. C was my  endo until he left the children's hospital after I graduated high school.  It was time to find an adult endo.

So I started seeing Dr. H.  He was referred by a couple adult T1s my mom knew.  Ten years later, he's still my endo.  Why?  He is always supportive, never judgmental.   Even in the throughs of my binge eating and depression, when my A1c was more than a bit high, he only said, "We can do better."

I actually felt pretty good going into my most recent appointment.  I mean, I was nervous.  I don't think I'll ever not be nervous about going to the endo.  But since things have been looking up, I was confident that my A1c and Dexcom reports would reflect that.

Dr. H comes in the room and we're chatting as we wait for my A1c results to come back.

"How long have you been coming here?" he asked.

"Ten years," I replied.  "Can you believe it?"

"Wow," he said.  "It doesn't seem like that long."

And this is where this appointment became different.  Dr. H looked at me and continued:

"You know, I've been practicing for 30 years.  When you're a young doctor, you don't think about how your practice will grow and change with you.  I have patients who've been with me the whole 30 years.  They came as newly diagnosed Type 2s in their 50s and 60s.  Now they're in their 80s and 90s, facing new and different challenges in their diabetes.  It's really mind boggling."

I sat there, almost speechless I was so moved at what Dr. H had said.

I swallowed the lump in my throat and mustered: "Well, I think that's a tremendous testament to what a wonderful doctor you are."

Dr. H just smiled.  At that moment, the nurse came in with my A1c.  Dr. H's smile got even bigger.  He showed me the piece of paper.

My jaw dropped.  "Does that really say what I think it says?" I asked.

"Yes it does!" he replied.  "Way to go, kiddo!"

YOU GUYS!  My A1c dropped again.  I am now officially at the best A1c of my life.  Safely.  Without too many lows.  I still can't believe it.

I know my A1c is just a number.  It doesn't define me or my diabetes.  But hot damn does it feel good to see tangible evidence that I'm not just feeling better, my health is better.

I wanted to hug Dr. H.  I wish I had.  I could tell how proud of me he was.  He knows about the binging and depression.  My amazing CDE at his office is the one I sought help from in the first place.

So thanks Dr. H for all your support.  For never making me feel like a failure.  And for helping me and so many others for so many years.

Please don't retire any time soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Real, Tangible Hope

I'm almost afraid to say anything.  I don't want to jinx it.

But here we go anyway.

YOU GUYS!  I can honestly say, for the first time in a long time, that things are going really well!

Just typing that sentence makes me want to cry.  I've wanted to be able to say that for a long time, and now I actually can.  Not that everything is perfect, but definitely better.  The plan my psychologist came up with is really helping.  I feel like I've turned a corner.  There is no magic fix for my myriad of issues, but something has changed. 

The good days are outnumbering the bad days.  I have more energy.  Most days, I'm able to come home from work and actually do something, rather than immediately collapse on the couch.  It's a nice feeling.

And the binge eating?  It's not gone, but I no longer feel completely powerless against food.  I'm feeling so much better overall that I'm mostly able to cope without turning to food.  My therapist was right.  The feelings of depression and anxiety are what causes me to binge eat.  So treating those feelings treats the binging.

But I still can't help feeling like I'm walking on a tightrope.  As well as things are going right now, I still feel like at any moment I could slip.  That the darkness still lingers, one step behind me.  And it scares me.  My issues haven't disappeared.  They're still there, lying in wait.  I know I will struggle again.  Like I said, there is no magic here.

But still.

Hope.  That's what I have.  Real, tangible hope.  And I want to say thank you.  For the never ending support and encouragement.  For always reminding me that I can do this.  For never giving up on me.  My husband, my family, my friends, and the Diabetes Online Community.  Without all of you, I NEVER would be here.  You have carried me when I couldn't find the strength to stand.

As Hemingway said, I am "strong at the broken places."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NHBPM Day 1: Why I Write

This month, I'm participating in WEGO Health's National Health Blog Post Month (#NHBPM).  Which means I'm attempting to post every day during the month of November.  I'm hoping their prompts will be just what I need to get myself out of a blogging rut.

For more information or to sign up, see here.

Topic for Day 1: "Why I write about my health."

Why do I write about my health?

I write about my health for two reasons: to help myself and hopefully help other people.

When I first stumbled onto the Diabetes Online Community almost two years ago, I was completely and utterly lost.  Burnout had me tight in its grip, and I felt so alone.  I wasn't taking care of myself, and didn't know how to turn that around.

But then I started reading some blogs.  Joined Twitter.  And it completely changed my life.  That's not an exaggeration.  Reading other people's posts made me realize that I wasn't alone.  That living with diabetes is difficult for everyone.  That we all have our own struggles and triumphs.

Through the words and friendships of other people with diabetes, I was able to change.  One step at a time.  Today, I am in such a better place than I was two years ago.  Not only with my diabetes, but with my mental health.

Again, my friends online inspired me to seek help for my binge eating.  I don't think I would have had the courage to find a psychologist without reading stories from other people.  Their stories took the shame and fear away.

I started writing this blog to help myself.  This is a place where I can vent and share what's going on, and that helps me process things that are going on in my life.  But that's not why I keep writing.

I keep writing in the hopes that I might be able to help someone else as I have been helped.  That's why I share so much.  Not only about my diabetes, but also about my binge eating, and feelings of depression and anxiety.

Do I overshare?  Probably.  But I wouldn't be where I am today without the stories of other people.  No matter how we feel, we are never alone.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Long Overdue

Hi there. know I have a blog.  I didn't forget.

I feel like I owe you guys an update.  I know I've been quiet lately.  So here we go.

It's been a rough few months.  I've been dealing with feelings of depression and anxiety that have gotten worse.  There are times when making it through the workday takes all of my energy.  I get home and have absolutely none left.  Not for tweeting or texting, let alone writing a blog post.  No energy for engaging with people.  Not every day is like this, but it's happening enough to call a pattern.

And what do I do with these feelings of depression and anxiety?  Feed them, of course.  Sigh.  That is my struggle.  For whatever reason, when I feel like these emotions are going to overwhelm me and I cannot deal with them, I turn to food.  I'm ashamed of this.  I've put back on the weight that I lost.  I wish with every fiber of my being that I could magically make this problem go away.  But I can't.  As desperately as I want a quick fix, I know there isn't one.  But sometimes I want it to go away so badly it hurts.

The eating leads, of course, to guilt.  And also high blood sugars.  It's a vicious cycle.  I hate it.

However, the last week or so has been much better.  I saw my therapist on Wednesday.  No matter what, I always leave her office feeling empowered.  We have a plan to hopefully get me feeling better.  Just having a plan helps.

One thing that she and I celebrated is my #sweatbetes.  Except for a couple weeks when I was sick, I've been keeping up with exercising.  No matter what the rest of the day is like, that's one thing I know I can do to help take care of myself.

And as much as I hate to admit it, exercising is helping my mood SO MUCH.  I still don't like it, but I feel so much better overall if I suck it up and do it.  It's also helping my blood sugars.  I've lowered my basals and insulin to carb ratio a bit.  I can tell my body's using the insulin more efficiently.

So that's what I'm trying to focus on: the positive.  The small things I can do to take care of myself.  Get that exercise in.  Stock the house with healthy food and not keep any junk around.  Keep working with my therapist.  Make myself interact with people, even when I don't feel like it.

My wonderful husband deserves a freaking medal.  I have been quite a mess of late.  And he is so supportive and encouraging.  His belief in me helps me believe in myself.

And I want to thank my friends.  You know who you are.  I'd never make it without you.

Please know that if you are struggling, you are not alone.  There are a lot of us struggling.  But we can do this.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Number Five

I don't even know where to start.

It's not often that I find myself speechless, but today, on our fifth wedding anniversary, I am at a loss for words.

Josh is my partner, my best friend, and the love of my life.  We've been through a lot together.  And I owe him so much.

Diabetes has been a part of our relationship since the beginning.  He is my partner in living with this disease.  Josh is my Type Awesome, and understands this disease as well as someone who lives without it can.

As Karen said about her husband, in what is one of my favorite blog posts of all time: "He is the solid rock I lean on when I can't bear the unrelenting chronicness of it any more."  Yes.  Just yes.  

This past year has been a rough one.  And Josh has been so patient, supportive, and understanding.  It was clear to both of us that I needed some professional help for a while before I was ready to seek it out.  But he didn't push.  He waited until I was ready to ask for help, and has been cheering me on ever since.

Josh knows about my binging and my emotional scars.  And he loves me anyway.  I am so incredibly blessed.  Is he perfect?  No.  Does he do things that drive me absolutely crazy?  Yes. But when it counts, he's there.  Always.

Happy Anniversary, Josh.  I love you.

Even though I shoved cake in your face...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'm Still Here

Don't worry, I'm still here.

I know I haven't posted much lately.  After my awesome endo visit, you would think that things would be going great.  That I should be happy.

But the past couple weeks have been total crap.

Before I go any further, I want to say that the past few days have been much better.  Thanks to my husband, my friends, and my therapist, I am feeling much better.  But things have been pretty rough.  And I believe in being honest with you guys.

So back to the crap.  My fears about the binge eating monster proved themselves not to be unfounded.  I've been in a rut.  And the monster reared its ugly head once again.

I'm learning a lot about myself as I'm going through therapy, both in talking with my therapist and journaling (per her suggestion).  I'm realizing that there are behaviors and patterns that have been present in my life for years and years.  And it's going to take a while to learn to do things differently.

I don't like to deal with uncomfortable emotions.  Fear, stress, anxiety, etc.  My gut reaction to crave numbness.  Apathy.  To become detached.  And food is how I try to get there.

It doesn't work, of course.  Rationally, I know this.  But it's taking some time and effort to try to change my behavior.  Some days go really well.  I'm able to feel the uncomfortable emotions, and know that I am ok.  That these emotions will pass and are not going to destroy me.  Other days, not so much.

The kicker is that when I most need to reach out, I withdraw.  That's why I've been pretty absent lately. When things start to go south for me, I pull inward.  I go to work, come home, watch TV, and eat.  I don't interact with people.  I stop tweeting.  I stop blogging.

It's something I'm aware of, and that I hope will be able to change at some point.  Because I know the support is there when I need it.  My family, my friends, and you, my Diabetes Online Community.  I'm hopeful that next time I fall into a rut, I'll be able to reach out to someone.  Because I know it will help.

Monday night, I wrote in my journal, had a long talk with Josh, and a good cry. I started to feel better.  Then I sent a tweet. 

Just the tip of the iceberg.  A bit of an understatement, perhaps.  I got some responses.  And that helped more than I can say.  Major thanks to Stacey, Rachel, Mike, Jacquie, Scott, Scott, Lawren, Kim, Kerri, Cherise, Andrea, Bob, and Lisa.  Thank you so much.  You have no idea how much your tweets helped me.

I'm sorry I haven't been around lately.  Responding to tweets, reading and commenting on blogs.  I miss you guys.  And I'm so happy that #FFL12 is next week.  I need it.  Badly.

Thanks for the support, and thanks for understanding.  I'm still here. Strong at the broken places.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Living This Imperfect Life

The past few days have not been good food days for me.  I've been doing really well for the last month or so.  But the last several days have been a struggle.  I'm hoping that today will be better.  That I will be able to journal what I'm feeling instead of channeling it into food.

Because like I said, things have been going really well for the past several weeks.  I'm really starting to see some progress.  I love my new therapist now, and I know that making the switch was the right choice for me.  Having my own regular appointment every two weeks is making a huge difference.

I had an endo appointment last week.  I was hopeful that my A1c had stayed the same, and not increased.  The last month had gone well, but the two before that, not so much.  But I knew that no matter what the number was, that I could look my endo in the eyes and say that things were going better.  And that my last several weeks of CGM data would back me up.  Because while I can't control what my blood sugar does, my numbers are so much better overall when I'm not binge eating.

The paper slid under the door with my A1c.  I couldn't see it.  My endo picked it up, looked at it, and smiled.  He looked at me, still grinning, and told me the number.

I'm not sure how long I sat there with my mouth hanging open.  I was in shock.  My A1c had dropped by 0.4%! What the what?  How is this possible.

I sat there on the table, dumbstruck.  With tears stinging my eyes, I had to bite my tongue to stop myself from asking him to retest it.  Because not only had my A1c dropped, but it was lower than that number.  The number I set as a goal for myself after finding the DOC one and a half years ago.  I had been within 0.1% of that goal before, but now I was sitting 0.2% lower than my goal.  I could hardly believe it.

I still can hardly believe it!  The paper with my A1c is on my fridge, and I smile every time I look at it.  I CAN do this!

A little disclaimer before I go any further: I don't believe that an A1c is the be all end all when it comes to measuring how things are going with diabetes.  A1cs don't take into account all the crap we PWDs deal with on a daily basis.  Or the emotional and psychological warfare that diabetes can bring.

But A1cs are a measure we have to look at.  And my current A1c is the lowest I can ever remember.  And my standard deviation is good, so that means I'm not having a crapton of lows and highs that balance their way to a low A1c.  The average lines on my CGM data are pretty stable.  So I can feel good about reaching my A1c goal, because it's happened safely.

After calling Josh and completely freaking out, I called my mom.  She knew I was at the endo's.  She asked how it went.  I told her my A1c.  And my mom gasped.  I could hear her start to choke up.

Me: "And my standard deviation is good!  Mom, has my A1c ever been under (goal number) before?  It hasn't as far as I can remember."

Mom: "I don't think it has.  Oh Jessica, this is fantastic!  We need to celebrate!  I don't have time to bake you a cake..."

I'm actually not sure who's more excited about my A1c, me or my mom.  I think my mom.  She keeps texting me about it, still so excited, and telling me how proud she is.

And I'm proud too.  Because while my self-worth shouldn't be tied to this number, hot damn does it feel good to see some progress.  To see that conquering my binge eating is going to make such a difference.  That going to therapy is making such a difference.

So I am happy, and proud, but still guarded.  Because I know at any time I could go sliding backwards.  The past few days have reminded me of that.  The binge eating is still there, lurking, waiting.  It's not been conquered yet.  And nothing can sabotage my efforts to take care of myself like that monster can.

But I will cling to hope.  Today was better than earlier in the week.  Perfect?  No.  But better?  Yes.  And for right now, better is enough.  And tomorrow will be better too.

I CAN do this.  That's why this A1c means so much to me.  It's tangible proof that I can do this.  That I can live this imperfect rollercoaster life with diabetes.  That food won't have a hold over me forever.

I saw this picture and had to get it.  It's going up in our hallway.

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul." -Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Finding Our Strength

So at the suggestion of my therapist, I've been trying to read more.  As in actual books, not blog posts.  I'd forgotten how much reading really does relax me.  I love it.

I've been reading some great stuff!  I highly recommend The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (which will blow your mind!) and The Wilder Life.

I was browsing the clearance section at a used book store, when this book caught my eye:

And I was immediately excited!  Let me explain.

My junior year in college, my roommate walked in, set a book on my desk, and said, "You have to read this."

It was a book she was reading for a class.  It was this book:

I had never heard of Richard M. Cohen, but he was soon to become one of my personal heroes.  Blindsided is Cohen's personal account of living with Multiple Sclerosis for 30+ years, as well as dealing with two bouts of colon cancer.  His story is truly and utterly amazing.  I cannot do his story justice in such a short space.

When I first read this book, it was long before I found the Diabetes Online Community.  Long before I knew such a thing even existed.  And I knew no one else living with any kind of chronic condition, let alone Type 1 Diabetes.

But in Cohen's story, I saw elements of myself.  Now, I have no idea what it's like to live with MS. Absolutely none.  I do know what it's like to live with Type 1 Diabetes.  And I saw some of my own emotions and struggles reflected in Cohen's.

I know how it feels to have your body betray you.  I know how the future can seem very scary and uncertain.  I know what it means to feel like a burden on your loved ones.  I know the mental and emotional turmoil that comes with living with a chronic condition.  If you live with any chronic condition, the similarities sometimes outweigh the differences.

Later that year, I had the opportunity to hear Cohen speak.  He and I share an alma mater, and he spoke at commencement that year (not the year I graduated, unfortunately).  I wish I could have talked to him, to thank him for sharing his story, because it had helped me. 

And so when I saw Strong at the Broken Places, in the clearance bin, I snatched it up, and started reading it as soon as I got home.  The book is the story of five different people living with five different chronic conditions.  A guarded woman living with ALS.  A college kid living with Muscular Dystrophy.  A deeply passionate man living with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  A young woman living with Chron's disease.  And a man living with Bipolar Disorder who seems larger than life.

Cohen spent several years corresponding and interviewing the five people profiled in the book.  And I want to have a big group hug with all of them.

I'm not going to lie.  Reading the book was an intense emotional experience.  I cried more than once.  And again, though I have none of these conditions, there was so much that was the same.  I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.  It is truly incredible.

And I found my new favorite quote.

"The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong
at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

I am strong at the broken places.  And so are you.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Even When It Doesn't Look Like It...

"What is one thing you would tell someone that doesn't have diabetes about living with diabetes?"

I don't even know how to pick just one thing.  There are so many, many things I wish other people could understand.  I love Jacquie's post from yesterday.  Sometimes it would be nice to be able to "give" someone else diabetes for a couple days, just so they could better understand what it's like.  Only temporarily, I promise.  I wouldn't wish this on anyone.

If I have to narrow it down to one thing, it would be this: even when you don't think I'm thinking about diabetes, I am.

I woke up this morning to this lovely graph:

If you have diabetes, then you know how waking up with a blood sugar of 314 feels.  You know the tooth sweaters, the parched feeling in the back of your throat, and how gross it feels getting up all sweaty.  You also know the frustration I feel.  About how waking up with a high can completely throw off your whole day.  That I won't be eating breakfast for a while.

I'm headed to work shortly.  Will I tell my coworkers about my morning?  No.  Maybe they'll catch me checking my CGM a lot (because I will be) and ask if everything's ok.  If they do, my answer will likely be, "Yep, I'm fine, thanks."
I will be thinking about diabetes off and on all day.  Every day.  Every time I check my CGM, I'm clearly thinking about diabetes.  But just because my pump is hidden away in my pocket, that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about it.  Whether at work, out to dinner with friends, driving in the car, or watching TV at home, diabetes is always there.

I do think about other things, of course.  Every moment of every day is not consumed by diabetes.  But more moments than I would like are consumed by it.  I try very hard to make diabetes look like it's no big deal.

But it is a big deal.  And sometimes I wish other people could understand how exhausting it is.  Because even when it doesn't look like I'm thinking about diabetes, I am.

For more What They Should Know posts, click here!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sometimes We Step Backwards

So I've had my first meeting with my new psychologist.  In fact, it's almost time for my second meeting with her.  I've been processing that first session and deciding what I want to say.

The good news is that I think this is going to work out.  This new psychologist was very nice and definitely has a lot of experience working with food issues and eating disorders, which is what I need.  Based on my first impression, she doesn't seem to know as much about Type 1 Diabetes as my old therapist, but I'll have to investigate that further.  And if she doesn't, then it's an opportunity for me to do some educating.

But there are two main reasons I think this is going to work.  First of all, I felt comfortable with her.  She was easy to talk to, and I cried about 10 minutes in, so we've gotten that out of the way.  The second thing is that I now have my own regular appointment time.

This is SO IMPORTANT!  This is why I switched.  I am ready to get better, and I feel like I am on the path towards that.

Part of why I got so emotional has to do with feeling like a failure.  After I started therapy initially, I was doing so well!  I was very conscious about what I ate, and was able to stop coping with food cold turkey, at least for a while.  I lost weight and felt great.

And then the newness wore off.  And there was a long lapse in my sessions.  And I backslid.  A lot.  Especially lately.  I hinted at it in my last post, but I was having some serious anxiety about a health issue. A small but extremely frustrating non-diabetes health issue.  One that I had about convinced myself was actually a big scary issue.

Now, I can thankfully report that it's not big and scary.  It is minor, being taken care of, and less frustrating.  Whew!  Not knowing what was going on was difficult.  I don't do well with the unknown.  I didn't even realize just how incredibly anxious I was about it until I wasn't anxious anymore.  Holy cow.

I was talking about all this with my therapist.  About how when I started therapy, I finally had hope that the emotional and binge eating would go away.  But somewhere in the last six months, that hope disappeared.

I'm trying to find it again.  Hope.  And all of you are helping me on that path.  Having my family, friends, and this community cheering me on helps so much!

My new therapist is helping me find hope too.  In my first appointment, she said that sometimes we move forward, and sometimes we step backwards.  And that's ok.  I'm ready to start moving forward again.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Here Goes Nothing

I don't really want to talk about it.  Not at all.

I've been putting off writing this post, because I just want everything to be fine.  I'm sick of dealing with this.

As I mentioned a while ago, things have been rather stressful of late.  There are some questions I'm waiting anxiously to be answered.  I've been pretty stressed.  And this has caused the eating has become a big problem again.

I'm so tired of dealing with this.  Why can't I just eat food like a normal person?  Why won't this just go away?

I know why, but I am just so SICK of dealing with the power that food seems to hold over me.

A large part of the problem is that I haven't seen my therapist in a long time.  When she took me on as a client, it was on a cancellation basis.  Meaning that she didn't actually have any openings, but would see me when one of her regular clients cancelled an appointment.

The problem is that people haven't been canceling.  And so I haven't seen her in months.  Which is not working for me.  When I first started, she had cancellations, and I was able to see her every few weeks.  And it helped SO MUCH.

But without it, I've backslid quite a bit, I'm ashamed to say.  It's painful for me to admit it.

Photo credit: NazarethCollege via Flickr Creative Commons

A few weeks ago, I was trying to work up the nerve to call my therapist and tell her that I needed to see someone else.  Someone who could fit me in on a regular basis.  When lo and behold, she calls me to suggest the very same thing.

So later this week, I have an appointment with a colleague of hers.  I know that this is the best thing for me.  And I have been assured that this colleague is wonderful and has experience with Type 1 Diabetes.  My therapist and I agreed that this is what I need to do.

But still.  It's going to be hard.  My soon to be former therapist is WONDERFUL.  I absolutely love her, and I'm nervous about starting over with someone new.  But this person can give me my own regular time slot, which is what I need.  And I completely trust my old therapist, so when she says this person is good, I am confident that she is.

But still.  My nerves about this are not helping my eating issues either.  Ironic, isn't it?

As nervous as I am, I'm also hopeful.  I'm ready to get back to getting better.  To get out of the sludge.  So here goes nothing.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Not Really About The Food

I don't even know what to say.  Thank you doesn't seem like enough.

I kept tearing up all day on Friday every time my phone beeped with an email, tweet, text or Facebook notification.  Once again, I am overwhelmed by the support of this community.  Thank you.

Reading through the comments on Friday's post, something struck me.  Part of all the encouragement included a fair bit of "me too."

When it comes to diabetes, I know I am never alone.  But when it comes to my food issues, I still feel alone quite a bit.  Hearing from other people who also deal with food issues means more to me than words can say.

Diabetes really effs with our relationship with food.  Totally and completely screws it up.  Honestly, sometimes I'm amazed all PWD don't have eating disorders.  Lee Ann wrote a fantastic and moving post about her journey with body image and diabetes.  Stop and go read it now.

This article was floating around on the internet quite a lot about a month ago (NOTE: the info it gives on life expectancy for PWD is incorrect. See here for more information).  I think I've read it about ten times.  And each time I look at it, there's a heaviness in my heart.

We all have our own struggles linked to our diabetes.  For some of us, that includes food issues and eating disorders.

There's shame that comes with having such problems.  I've felt it myself.  I don't want to admit to other people that my first reaction when I feel stressed or anxious is urge to eat ridiculous amounts of food.  It's hard for a lot of people to understand.  Why I just can't stop eating, or turn the urge off.  Why it's something I have to deal with every single day.

It doesn't work that way, because it's not really about the food.  It's about me learning healthier ways to cope with my emotions.  And I am.  Making the decision to start seeing a therapist who specializes in diabetes and eating disorders was one of the best decisions I've ever made.  Things have gotten better.

When I was struggling over the weekend, I opened up Friday's post and read them comments over and over.  Thank you for reminding me that I am never alone.

Which is why I'm sharing this.  If you're dealing with any kind of food issues or an eating disorder, please know that you are not alone.  That there's no reason to feel ashamed.  It's not your fault.  We are here for you.  You can do this.