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

Diabetic Living - - Contents -

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.

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