The title of this post really should be “Sorry Twitter but I haven’t been an active user in about two and half months for some specific reasons I’m about to highlight here, but hopefully I’ll come back to you later when things settle down,” but that’s just not very catchy, is it?
The reason why I’m saying ta-ta for now, Twitter, is that it’s become a really tough space to dwell in – or even pop in for a quick visit – throughout this pandemic.
It’s nothing that any account that I follow did or tweeted specifically…it’s just an amalgamation of everything that appears on the site these days. Between the news alerts and downright depressing tweets showing up left and right on my feed, it’s taken a huge hit on my mental health.
It’s a shame because for a long while, Twitter was kind of my go-to in terms of connecting with the diabetes community. I participated in weekly diabetes social media advocacy chats that were a lot of fun and a great way to communicate with fellow T1Ds near and far. But as Twitter grew more and more negative for me, I found myself gravitating more towards Instagram, where things are admittedly a little too shiny/happy/beautiful/perfect all the time. Instagram doesn’t quite fill the void that Twitter did for me in terms of linking up with my T1D community, but it’s something steady I can rely on for now, and with the added benefit of introducing me to other T1Ds who might not be on Twitter.
I’ll end this post by saying that I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way about one or more types of social media during the pandemic. Actually, I know FOR SURE that I’m not the only one who has felt emotionally drained by logging into different platforms and seeing just the one post that is enough to sap you of all positive, happy feelings. And you know what my advice would be to anyone who has felt the same way as me? Recognize it by avoiding those platforms for as long as you need to. I deactivated my Facebook profile for a couple of different weeks so far this year and my mental health absolutely benefited from me doing so. I don’t tap on the Twitter app on my phone lately and I know I’m saving myself from a ton of anxiety and emotional turmoil.
Just like the world has adapted to this “new normal”, it’s all about being pliable enough to see what does and doesn’t work for your mental heath right now, and then identifying alternative ways you can support it.
Hey, you! Mysterious person reading this blog post! I bet you’re just itching to know what exactly I did for days 8 and 9 of my 27 acts of kindness challenge, right?!
Okay, okay, so I get it…this challenge probably isn’t the most exciting part of your day like it is for me. And there’s a good chance that only like, two people even care to read about my challenge and its evolution over time. And that’s okay.
Because if just ONE of the two people who actually give a hoot about this whole thing gets inspired to do their own act(s) of kindness…then I’ve done my job. It’s exactly why I have this blog in the first place: I’m not trying or expecting to motivate every person with diabetes in the world (can you say “impossible”), I’m merely hoping that sharing my story will resonate with someone, in some way that is meaningful to that individual.
It’s about quality, not quantity.
Monday, 4/13 – Act of Kindness #8: Ordinarily, Mondays are my least favorite day of the week, but…we’re not living in ordinary times. Lately, Mondays get me back on track and keep me grounded. I have a work routine that I get into starting Monday mornings that lasts through Friday evening, and it helps in these crazy times to know that there’s some aspect of each week that I can rely on.
Plus, Monday nights have become yoga night for me! A few years ago, I attended a yoga class that lasted 8 weeks. I kept in touch with the instructor after the course ended in the hopes that I’d be able to take future classes with her. So I was thrilled when she emailed her roster of past and present students two weeks ago to let all of us know she’d be hosting free yoga sessions on Monday nights for the foreseeable future. At the end of her message, she told us that we should feel free to extend the invitation to anyone else who might be interested in joining. And thus, my idea for my next act of kindness was born. I know that I tend to feel amazing after a yoga session – my body welcomes the stretches and challenges associated with a good practice – so I figured I could reach out to friends who might also appreciate the mind and body benefits of yoga and tell them about the virtual class.
So I texted a bunch of people, explained how it worked, and promised to provide them the information they’d need to attend the class. My message was met with enthusiasm and a few people took me up on the offer. The beauty of this act of kindness is that it brings a bunch of people together (albeit online instead of in-person) so they can show an act of kindness to themselves by giving their bodies a little extra movement. Plus, the yoga classes are ongoing, so this very well may be a new, fun Monday night activity for myself and all class participants.
Tuesday, 4/14 – Act of Kindness #9: It occurred to me that none of my acts of kindness so far really had anything to do with diabetes, so I decided to change that yesterday. I wanted to shine a spotlight on members of the diabetes online community who are on Instagram and who run accounts that I really appreciate for various reasons. I did this by creating a template for my Instagram stories, tagging some of my favorite diabetes IG accounts, and encouraging anyone who viewed my story to copy a blank version of my template and paste it into their own stories to share even more fantastic accounts with their followers. And this idea worked better than I anticipated! Not only did the people who run the accounts that I tagged reach out to me and thank me for the shout-out, but there were a bunch of other accounts who took me up on my idea to share their own favorites using my template! I loved that with just a few taps on my phone screen, tons more people in the diabetes online community got instantly connected.
And let’s face it: It can be hard to put yourself out there online. The Internet is a scary, mean place. But doing something small like this, in which a little love and appreciation is put out there for all to see (instead of adding to negativity), makes the online environment brighter and friendlier, even if only for a 24-hour Instagram story window.
And that makes it worth it.
P.S. If you’re an active user on Instagram and want to follow some great diabetes accounts, check out these users (who I highlighted on my Instagram story yesterday):
@kamahkazee (this is my friend Kam’s account and she posts excellent content. She’s also a super-talented artist!)
@askmeaboutmytype1 (my buddy Walt runs this account for his podcast. He always posts the best intros to new episodes here!)
@insulin_and_tonic (Jillian’s diabetes memes are downright hysterical.)
@morkieness (Samantha decorates each new pod that she wears and they are STUNNING! She often uses stickers and glitter in her designs, so naturally, I’m a fan.)
@jesse.lavine_t1d (I’ve known Jesse for a few years now and besides being a wonderful friend, he also has an impressive Instagram feed filled with content that shows all aspects of life with diabetes.)
@lauren_bongiorno (a bit of an all-star in the diabetes community, Lauren is a diabetes health coach who posts helpful tips of all types for people living with diabetes.)
Hey friends. You probably noticed I didn’t have a new post up this week. (Unless you are one of the few people who saw my incomplete post go up on Monday…I took it down as fast as I could, and the finished version should be up soon. My bad!)
The reason for that is simple: I didn’t really know what to say. We’re living in an interesting time, to say the least, and I didn’t know how to address that on my blog. It seems silly to not address it at all (especially considering I just talked about it a few posts ago). But it also feels inauthentic to continue adding to the already-immense volume of information out there. I don’t feel that I have any commentary to add that would be of any value.
So I’m not talking about our current health situation right now. But that leaves the question…do I still talk about my health situation, meaning my diabetes? Is it stupid to blog about given everything else going on in the world?
Maybe, but maybe not.
My diabetes – and everyone else’s diabetes – won’t be going away just because there’s a pandemic right now. So why stop blogging about it? It might be nice for others to have a continuous reminder that they’re not alone with diabetes, not before, not now, and not ever. If sharing my story here helps other people in the diabetes community feel more connected in this time of social distancing, then I’m more than happy to keep telling it.
Plus…I think it’ll be good for my mental health (and hopefully for that of other people) to have something to write/read that won’t be anxiety-provoking.
Anyways, I just wanted to give you all a friendly little wave with this blog post – *waves energetically* – and let you know that I’m here if you need someone to talk to. Let’s all remember to stay human amid the chaos: Be kind, help others when you can, and we’ll weather the storm together.
Here’s a little sneak peek of what Colleen and I discuss:
How “Hugging the Cactus”, the T1D blog, came to exist
My diabetes story – when I was diagnosed, etc.
How I define diabetes burnout (and how I deal with it)
My process for writing blog posts
My favorite posts so far
…and so much more!
So, now that I’ve piqued your interest…listen to the episode! I hope you enjoy it. A special shout-out to Colleen and her co-host, Jessie (who unfortunately wasn’t available when we recorded the episode) – thank you BOTH for your time. I appreciate your contributions to diabetes advocacy and the diabetes online community, and I know many, many others appreciate it, too!
Back in November, I had the pleasure of making a guest appearance on the Ask Me About My Type 1 podcast (which I wrote a blog post about that you can check out here).
The whole experience, from being interviewed by Walt and my Type None Emma to hearing positive feedback from listeners, was so enjoyable that I jumped at the opportunity to do another podcast called This is Type 1.
What makes This is Type 1 special? For starters, it’s hosted by two life-long T1Ds. Colleen Mitchell is a writer, analyst, and entrepreneur who has had type 1 diabetes for 24 years. On her website, Inspired Forward, she explains that she’s an advocate for educating others about diabetes. Her co-host is Jessie Tuggey, who Colleen describes as her “pseudo-daughter” that she’s known since her days attending diabetes camp.
Colleen and Jessie have explored a variety of topics in their podcast since it launched in August 2019. Examples of subjects they’ve discussed are insulin, insurance, weight loss as a T1D, how to handle stress as a T1D, and diabetes in pop culture (which was a theme of one of my blog posts last year that happens to get quoted in the episode). They’ve also interviewed a handful of guests, from family members to get parent/sibling perspectives to fellow diabetes podcast hosts.
After listening to one of their recent episodes, I was thrilled when Colleen and Jessie invited me to come onto the show so they could ask me about my life with diabetes and my blog. That episode is coming out next week and I plan on linking to it in a blog post, but for now, I highly recommend that you check out some of their other episodes. They range from 20-60 minutes, so it’s easy to listen to a few in one sitting.
This post was originally published on Hugging the Cactus on October 8, 2018. I decided to re-up it today because I think we could all use a little reminder that diabetes is different for everyone. Remember…your diabetes may (almost always will) vary.
Previously, I’ve written about what it feels like to have low blood sugar. While many people with T1D feel the same symptoms as me when they experience a low, there are even more who experience a wider variety of emotions and sensations.
Renza, a T1D Twitter friend of mine, did a little investigating into how others would describe what it’s like to have a low blood sugar. She sent a tweet that read:
#Diabetes friends. I’m crowdsourcing (again). If you had to use ONE WORD to describe how hypos/lows feel to you, what would it be. Go!! #Hypoglycaemia
She received nearly 100 responses, which I’ve compiled into the below graphic.
Looking at this word collage is a bit startling because it represents the vast array of feelings associated with low blood sugar. Most of them are negative. A handful of them start with the prefix “dis”, which describes something with an opposing force. A couple of them relate to feelings associated with eating. And just about all of them can be summed up as sensations that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
To me, this graphic serves as a stark reminder that diabetes is more than just a chronic illness that affects the body: It affects the mind, too.
You should definitely know all about “Ask Me About My Type 1”, the podcast, by now.
And no, it’s not just because I appeared in a recent episode (although I totally did, and if you haven’t listened to it yet, keep reading for a direct link to it).
Let me tell you the reasons why I think you should know about “Ask Me About My Type 1”:
Readers of this blog know that I like to spread the word when I try or experience something great within the DOC. I want others to see how awesome that person or thing is, too, so that’s why I’m talking about the podcast in this post.
There’s like, a lot of T1D podcasts out there. Way more than I ever realized or expected. How the heck are you supposed to find out about them? Why, word of mouth works wonders! I know there are a couple of podcasts that might be considered well-known, and these podcasts deserve it…but so do the podcasts that are lesser known. Especially “Ask Me About My Type 1”.
This podcast really resonates with me because the focus of every episode is different: If you have a special interest within the DOC, such as marathon training, then you can bet that there’s an episode on the topic. You can also be sure to find episodes on subjects that you never really knew about before, such as politicking with T1D, taking dietary supplements as a T1D, and sex/love/dating with T1D (ooh la la). The show’s host, Walt, goes out of his way to find people within the fabulous diabetes community who offer different perspectives and insights on just about every aspect of life with diabetes, which makes the entire podcast truly important and meaningful.
Speaking of Walt – he’s the host of the podcast and he’s a great guy with a story of his own to share. You might recognize him from Team Bike Beyond, but besides being a mega-skilled bike rider, he’s also an incredibly talented podcast host. He asks thoughtful questions, blends his own narrative into every episode, and puts an obvious amount of time and energy into making all of his episodes. When he interviewed me and my friend, Emma, for the show, we honestly forgot that our conversation was being recorded because he did such a seamless job moderating the discussion. That’s a quality that not every podcast host has, and Walt (modestly) rocks it.
Those are just some of the reasons why I’m a firm believer in this podcast (and again, let me emphasize that I am not saying all this because I was a guest – at the end of the day, I truly just want others to know about DOC gems that I’m aware of because I have gained something positive from them).
So now I bet you’re just wondering how you can start listening – and I’m here to help! Simply search for “Ask Me About My Type 1” on Apple podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or just about any other place you can listen to podcasts. Check out an episode on whichever topic intrigues you the most and I can guarantee you’ll be back for more. Keep up with Walt and new episodes of the show by following @askmeaboutmytype1 on Instagram and visiting his website here, too!
It’s November 22nd which means that it’s Day 22 of the Happy Diabetic Challenge! Today is called #FollowFriday and we’re encouraged to share who inspires us from the diabetes community. Rather than capture the dozens upon dozens of names in a blog post (because truly, there’s practically an endless list of people who inspire me in the DOC), I’m going to write about what I think makes someone in the DOC inspiring…
I’ve lost track of how many years I’ve been involved with the diabetes online community (DOC).
It’s somewhere between five and eight. Regardless of what the true number is, I can tell you this: I’ve “met” and interacted with countless people who’ve shared their stories with me. Each story is unique and marked by different struggles and victories, but the common theme is diabetes.
But what else do these storytellers share that make them so inspiring to me?
Here are three qualities of people with diabetes who inspire me:
Vulnerability. I’ve come to value this more than just about any other trait when it comes to talking about diabetes in an online space. Nothing makes a person more relatable (or more human) than when they speak uninhibited and honestly. In a social media world where everyone is so concerned with capturing and filtering the “perfect” photo with the “flawless” caption to go with it, I find that it’s the stories that are raw and obviously imperfect that pack more of a punch. It’s important to stay grounded, and those who aren’t afraid to share their tribulations as much as they share their successes are truly inspiring to me.
2. Kindness. The Internet can be harsh and judgmental. (Okay, that’s a total understatement). It’s brutal out here in cyberspace, and unfortunately, the DOC isn’t immune to all brands of savagery. In the past, I’ve seen disputes erupt because of hateful comments made about all aspects of life with diabetes. So when I notice thoughtful, supportive, and downright nice comments between perfect strangers in an online space, it restores a bit of my faith in humanity. Those who take the time to send a tweet to another PWD in need or who use their presence online to do some good don’t go unnoticed by me, and I applaud each and every single person who does their best to reduce the negativity in the diabetes online community.
3. Willingness to listen and learn from differing perspectives. Those of us who live with diabetes can be wildly, passionately opinionated. Pumps! No, MDI! Carbs! No, keto diet! Your diabetes is just like mine! No, it’s not! – Those are just a few examples. While some may be quick to judge others for dealing with diabetes in a way that is different or just plain “wrong” to them, I’m far more impressed by those who remain open to having conversations and learning from those who disagree. After all, what matters most is that a person finds what works best for them. It shouldn’t matter that it’s different from what I or anyone else might do. So I really admire those who are able to put aside differences and focus on learning and growing from others.
Thank you to each and every single person out there in the diabetes online community who possesses one or all of these qualities. This means you’ve inspired me in some way, and I am incredibly grateful for you and your willingness to share part of yourself with strangers online. Keep doing what you’re doing and I can guarantee that you’ll continue to inspire many more people.
I saw a post on Instagram recently that infuriated me (I hope you can get a sense of the vitriol I’m about to spew out).
An Instagram user (who shall remain nameless because it’s not cool to put people on blast) was exploring the reasons why they thought they developed diabetes in a series of Insta stories. Several questions were asked:
Was it because of an sedentary lifestyle?
Did it have something to do with being breastfed versus bottle-fed?
Does it have to do with diet?
Was it because of exposure to a certain set of germs?
Did it have something to do with a family history of diabetes?
And the list goes on…and on.
Why did it make me angry?
It’s because, well, personally, I don’t care WHY I have diabetes. I don’t think that exploring the reason(s) why I have it is a healthy way to spend my time.
All I know is that my pancreas doesn’t produce insulin – rather than trying to narrow down the reason why that is, I’d much rather put that energy into taking the best possible care of my diabetes.
Am I crazy? Doesn’t that make sense? It’s just that wondering about the why won’t do a damn thing to change the fact that I have diabetes.
I don’t want to make anyone feel badly if they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the “why” – I’m sure that when I was younger, I asked myself that question a lot – but I’m merely just trying to change the direction and the focus of the conversation.
Let’s not talk about why – let’s talk about how.
How we can live incredible, full lives with diabetes.
How fortunate we are to have access to tools and technology that help us manage it.
How, despite diabetes sucking a lot of the time, it’s actually brought about a lot of positive change and influence in many peoples’ lives.
Now that’s the kind of productive discussions I’d like to see on social media…not the ones that are all doom, gloom, and pure speculation.
In Vlog #4, I talk about how I feel when I see diabetes “glamorized” across various social media platforms. This is not intended to criticize any individuals or groups; rather, I want this to start a dialogue about how life with diabetes is commonly portrayed to the rest of the world. Watch the video and leave a comment to let me know what you think!