I always prided myself in having my life figured out. I have a master’s degree and am always willing to learn new things. I have been teaching for 24 years and have loved my career. I had been pondering retiring, taking a year off, traveling more, and evaluating what I wanted the next chapter of my life to look like with my fiance.
Other than a minor cold or sinus infection, I had never been really sick. I loved running 5 and 10k’s in my community with friends, I loved weekend cookouts with family and just enjoying what life brought my way. I had a strong sense of self and identity. I saw myself as confident, strong, educated, and kind. I was a person that others would come to for help and I was always willing to lend a listening ear. I liked who I was.
So, when I was diagnosed at 46 years old with type one diabetes, I was not only shocked, I was completely crushed.
My mind jumped to thoughts like:
What did I do to deserve this?
Am I being punished?
What did I do wrong?
I was constantly on the verge of tears and I couldn’t for the life of me find my strength. I withdrew, I isolated, and I put all my energy into researching and learning all about T1D.
While all of that reading helped, it was a double edge sword because it also made me spiral into more and more questions. Knowledge is power, but not when you become obsessed. I think I was searching for a feeling… some book, some author, someone to tell me that I was not broken.
I struggled to see in me all that I was before. I could only see myself as a confused, wounded and broken adult. I wanted someone to blame for the confusion and brokenness I was feeling. All the great habits I had in place, I let go. Morning workouts, yoga and meditation and my beloved journal, I threw to the wayside. Why would I bother with them? They weren’t going to fix me.
One day as I was complaining about having to give myself insulin, my sister stated that it was something I will have to do for the rest of my life and maybe I need to see it as the medicine my body needs. Her words clicked for some reason and it dawned on me that yes, this is the medicine my body needs and it doesn’t have to be such a negative thing.
That was the beginning of a turning point for me to slowly start finding myself again. It has been a slow process, but a process that I am grateful to be in.
Once I stopped judging myself, I could let my family, friends and co-workers hold space for me to be vulnerable. I slowly added things back in that I loved.
I researched T1D more cautiously, discovered Risely, and enrolled in the September 2021 Decide and Conquer Bootcamp. I found the courses and community to be exactly what I needed. I connected with other women with T1D living their daily lives with gusto. This community gave me the support I needed to start running 5k’s, eating at restaurants, working out before my classes, yoga/meditation and most importantly helped me see the value of returning to my journaling. My experience in this community started my healing and acceptance process and grew into a full-blown transformation.
I have learned so much more about myself in 19 months with the T1 diagnosis that has re-shaped my identity. I realized that there was nothing to fix and that having a diagnosis doesn’t make you broken or unworthy. I now see the power in being vulnerable, growing out of my own fear and self-judgment, and recognize that leaning into the kindness of others makes me stronger.
I see myself as a whole person that continues to grow with the help of others. I have been able to share my story on different platforms, with other T1’s (even a student) and that has opened my eyes to see how much I have grown, adapted and changed. I realize that it was great that I liked myself before, but it’s fantastic that I love myself now.