Diabetes is a head game, and what you believe, about diabetes and about yourself, eventually becomes the truth.
In previous posts, I have talked about the Five Ms of managing diabetes. It occurs to me that there is a sixth M – mental. Let me explain.
My story with diabetes
When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I remember having an identity crisis – I wasn’t Tracy anymore, I was a diabetic. Diabetics were sick people who had to do un-fun things like sticking themselves with needles and eat repulsive food. I feared that all the joy would get sucked out of my life. I denied that I had diabetes, and I just ate what I wanted for a few more years.
But here’s what I finally realized: just because I had diabetes, I didn’t stop being me.
Was my hair still brown? Yes. Did I have the same job? Yep. Was chocolate still my favorite food group? Lord help me, yes it was. Well alright, then. I was still here. With diabetes. So far, I had only brought my fears and inaccurate beliefs to the condition. Now, I could also bring my strengths. I’m tenacious (my husband says stubborn, but hey, potato/po-tah-to); I’m cheerful (sometimes annoyingly so); I’m smart, I’m resilient, and I looooove a project. So I made my quirks work for me.
I love bread and dessert; I didn’t want to give them up, so I just agreed to the price: exercise. Some days I take a class, sometimes I walk on an elliptical trainer. And in 2009, I trained for and completed a century bike ride – 100 miles! Turns out, I’m an athlete. I enrolled in culinary school and completed a pastry program. I sample my homework, but I don’t get carried away. I’m a chef.
My beliefs affected my diabetes
What I believed about diabetes determined my relationship with it.
When I believed that diabetes was a disease that was visited upon me, it frustrated and frightened me. When I decided that diabetes was simply my body asking for a little love and respect, my outlook was transformed. When I changed what I told myself about my condition, the truth changed. I wasn’t a victim. Diabetes was no longer the enemy; it was my friend and my conscience.
The story you tell yourself makes all the difference in the world.
What qualities do you bring to the table? What do you tell yourself about your diabetes? That you’re weak? Fat? Betrayed somehow by your body? Try reframing those beliefs. I’m willing to bet that you’re stronger, more capable, and more courageous than you give yourself credit for. Change your story and see what happens.