I love the diabetes online community for everything that it offers: advice in times of need, hope in times of despair, helpful anecdotes and inspiring stories, and friendships formed across time zones and many miles.
One of the things that the diabetes online community sometimes does, though, is to try and prescribe how everyone with diabetes should live. One day, it’s the Dr. Bernstein diet, the next, it’s high-carb, low-fat. The Mastering Diabetes (mostly) fruit diet is so popular now that their book has even made the NYTimes Bestsellers list. People are jumping on diet and exercise bandwagons before they figure out what they truly need (and want!) in terms of their diabetes management, and what it should look like, day-to-day.
Parents are often left feeling guilty if they can’t “hack” their child’s insulin pump, and individuals with diabetes feel bad when they don’t (or can’t?) do CrossFit or maintain a super low-carb lifestyle. A once seemingly supportive community now raises an eyebrow if they spot you eyeing over a cookie during a meet-up group, or (god forbid) a sugar-sweetened beverage. But I’m here to say one thing: diabetes isn’t a “one size fits all” disease.
You are not a “bad diabetic” if you don’t have a DIY looping system, or if you don’t want to sit down and try to figure it out. You’re fine just the way you are if MDI or insulin pens work better for you, if you dislike skin adhesives, or feel claustrophobic always having something attached to you.
It’s okay if you spike every morning, without fail, due to dawn phenomenon, and if you don’t ever post your CGM graphs to social media. It’s okay if you don’t have a CGM (really, it’s fine). Or if you don’t take an SGLT2-inhibitor off-label. Or even want to try. There’s no perfect low snack. There’s no perfect meal.
Figure out what your body needs, and honor that. It’s okay if you don’t want to eat low-carb, high-carb, or in-between. Or if you’ve lived with type 1 for 15 years, enjoy your weekly ice cream treat, and don’t want to give it up. Figure out what you need and want, and do that.
It’s okay if you don’t own a Myabetic bag, or can’t afford one, or think they’re ugly. It’s alright if you’ve never been to diabetes camp or don’t want to go. It’s alright if you don’t want to jump all into advocacy and chant, and rally, and cheer. It’s okay if self-care for you is sitting in a quiet room, and coming to a place of acceptance.
It’s okay if you don’t join any Facebook diabetes support groups, or seek out diabuddies in real life. It’s okay if diabetes is only a very small part of your life. It’s okay if it’s your whole life.
It’s okay if you don’t like going to the endocrinologist, or have to force yourself to see your eye doctor. It’s okay if you don’t like talking about your diabetes with others. Diabetes is not one size fits all.
It’s okay if sometimes you’re feeling overwhelmed, over-stimulated, and need to turn inwards, for yourself and rest sometimes.
There is no perfect way to (micro)manage, eat, exercise, handle stress, socialize (or not!), dose, count, or bolus. There is only the way that will work for you and your body. Find what works for you, and embrace that.
Have you ever been pressured to manage your diabetes a certain way? Eat a certain diet? Exercise in a specific way? How did you deal with the pressure? Share this post and comment below; we would love to hear your stories!
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Read more about dawn phenomenon, diabetes management, Diabetes Online Community (DOC), exercise, insulin, insulin pumps, Intensive management, low-carb diet, SGLT-2, social pressure.