A Balancing Act: All Diabetes, All the Time

Sometimes, I feel like I don’t ever get a break from diabetes.

Obviously, the nature of diabetes itself is 24/7/365 – it doesn’t have an on/off button and requires constant monitoring.

But there’s also the fact that my full-time job is working for a diabetes non-profit.

Also also the fact that I have two very near and dear family members (and many friends, to boot) who also live with diabetes; naturally, it comes up in conversation all the time.

Also also also! I have this little blog you may have heard of called Hugging the Cactus…where I write about my life with diabetes a couple days each week.

So not only am I living with diabetes, but I’ve also forged a career in the diabetes sector, a hobby writing about it, and countless relationships built from shared experiences with it.

And it’s a lot.

Dealing with diabetes around the clock in multiple scenarios and settings can be exhausting…to say the least.

Since there is so much diabetes so much of the time, it’s incredibly important to find a balance…a way to shut my brain off from it all, even if it’s only for short periods of time. I’ve had mixed success accomplishing this in the last year. Making plans with family and friends, joining a volleyball team, immersing myself in RP games, playing with my dog, and doing small acts of self-care have helped, but it’s not always enough.

I’m recognizing this as I write this blog post, and taking a moment to appreciate the mental time and energy that goes into maintaining this balancing act. Just as it’s easier to do on some days, it’s also totally much harder on others – and that’s valid. And it’s a gentle reminder to anyone else who can relate to this that your feelings on it are legitimate, too, and that you aren’t alone.

How Keeping Constantly Busy Helps (and Hurts) My Diabetes

I don’t fare well when I have too much idle time.

I’m the type of person who needs to stay as busy as possible: I like being productive and having the satisfaction of saying that I’ve accomplished something each day. That doesn’t always mean that I’m successful, but I do my damnedest to make sure that I check off at least one item from my to-do list on a daily basis.

And I don’t like saying “no” to others, so whenever someone asks for my help, I’m on it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a family member, close friend, or an acquaintance – I do what I can when I’m called on for help, and as you might be able to imagine, this is both good and bad for me.

How Keeping Constantly Busy Helps (and Hurts) My Diabetes
Who DOESN’T love the satisfying feeling of checking items off from a to-do list?!

In terms of diabetes management, it’s great because when I am particularly busy, this means that I’m probably not sitting around a whole lot – the constant go-go-go makes my blood sugars pretty happy. Plus, having a packed schedule keeps my mind occupied when I need to think about something – anything, really – other than my diabetes. If I’m having a tough diabetes day, I don’t have to dwell on it; instead, I have tasks X, Y, and Z to do. If I’m waiting for a stubborn high blood sugar to come back down, then I can start working on a project rather than stare at my CGM for the next hour. 

So in this way, keeping myself busy is a fabulous way to take my attention away from diabetes when I desperately need the mental break from it…but it’s also harmful at times, because let’s face it, there are many times in life where I really do need to concentrate on my diabetes care and management.

Whether it’s a big or small task that I’m working on, I put 110% of myself into it, which means that I really don’t have extra thinking room for my diabetes. Some examples of times that I’ve been far too lost in what I was doing to give diabetes a second thought are when I’ve been in the middle of a knitting project and my Dexcom is went off but I actively ignored it in order to keep my focus on whatever row I was working on (and my blood sugar stayed higher for longer than it should have), or when I should’ve taken a break from writing social media posts for my friend to eat something because my blood sugar needed it, but I just wanted to finish the job first.

Now that I’ve figured out how my diabetes is helped and hurt by my jam-packed days, will I continue to stay constantly busy? The answer is definitely. But I will also try to remember the importance of balance in order to keep my diabetes at the forefront of my mind in a healthy manner.