Find the wonderful From broken to whole
Diabetes can be a tough teacher, but Helen Edwards, a diabetes educator who lives with type 1, has learnt it’s okay to be broken
You aren’t always able to change something broken, such as your pancreas, but you can change the way you feel and think about your life.
I’ve been living with type 1 diabetes since 1979 and have experienced depression, anxiety and diabetes burn out. At times, I have definitely felt broken.
We tend to see something that is broken as negative because if something no longer works it may be rendered useless. However, if you look at it from another perspective, something that is broken can be mended, fixed, altered, upcycled or turned into something better.
It’s the experiences that have left me feeling broken, diabetes included, that have taught me to embrace brokenness and rejoice in the many different aspects of life. If you change how you see brokenness, you can see all the parts of life, and how to live with the things you can’t change.
I’ve found one of the best ways is to take a look at the ‘story’ you tell yourself about your diabetes.
You may have a story about how devastating your diabetes diagnosis has been, but forget to see the things you are still doing, such as caring for your children, going to work, or getting through tasks you need to do each day. Like me, you might be surprised to find that it’s your brokenness that’s brought something special to your life.
“Events happen in all of our lives that cannot be changed. People experience traumas and losses that cannot be undone. The ways in which these events are understood and interpreted, however, makes a considerable difference to their effects.”
The above quote written by Maggie Carey and Shona Russell, counsellors at the Adelaide Narrative Therapy Centre, spoke directly to me.
Write it out
When I was at the lowest point in my life, after suffering posttraumatic stress, panic attacks, anxiety and depression, writing helped me to see something other than my brokenness. I wrote poetry, journals and stories. Words poured out of me
and helped me see all the parts of my story – including the people who loved me.
I recognised being broken wasn’t about throwing life away. I saw there were many things I’d done, experienced and achieved that were staring me in the face. I knew there were more reasons to be here than there were to leave, and my beautiful first son was the biggest.
I also discovered that these broken parts were actually the reason for much of my joy. It prompted me to start an online counselling service called diabetescantstopme.com because I realised that others were also suffering. Helping others has brought me joy, put me back together and made me better and more resilient than ever.
Living with a hidden condition such as diabetes is a funny thing. On the outside people may not know you are suffering. I set an alarm each night to wake and check my blood glucose, pump site failures are a regular frustration and diabetes has wrecked other parts of my body – but these are not the things people see. Nor are they what I focus on all the time, Sure, they bite me some days, but on others I see them as just part of what I have to do.
Change your view
As well as writing your stories down, you can also change the way you see and tell your stories. The first step is to identify what they are, as well as understand them and how they impact on your life. Then take a look at all the possible alternatives to those stories.
You may be surprised.
My husband and I have been told our eight-year-old son has high-functioning autism. I remember one of the support team saying, “I hope you’re not going to try to take the autism out of him because that’s who he is”.
That comment really struck me. Our son is one of the most wonderful people I have ever known. His wonderfulness grows brighter every day despite his struggles. He reminds me that each of us is a unique, multi-shaped, ever-changing kaleidoscope of colours. These wonderful parts are often the parts some would call broken. But to me they are some kind of wonderfulness.