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Feel the fear and do it anyway
I’ve lived with diabetes for 13 years. For the first six years after my initial diagnosis, I still produced my own insulin, I could manage the whole thing with yoga, diet and herbs. I never imagined I’d need insulin. But then I did.
I started slow.
First there was the daily shot of basal insulin. I restricted my diet, ate under 30 carbs a day, exercised fanatically, dragged myself up and down hills and ate a ketogenic diet. I sported flat lines and felt safe and confident with my management. That went on for 4 years. It worked, until it didn’t.
10 years after my diagnosis I took the plunge and started meal time insulin. My motto was, a little goes a long way. I used 1/2-unit syringes and eked out the doses. Learning from the low carb diabetes community that the less insulin I used the less likelihood of lows. It felt safe and doable. I could relax. Or so I thought…
Last year I started needing more insulin because I made a radical change. I wanted to go vegan for ethical and emotional reasons. I’ve talked a lot about the ‘why’ here on the blog. Suffice it to say changing from a strict low carb diet to a high carb low fat one has been no picnic. I’m nearly a year and a half in and it’s tough.
Don’t get me wrong. I am over the moon being plant based. I feel healthier, I’m more resilient and I love being creative in the kitchen again, but to be honest I’ve struggled with my mindset.
Right now, I’m dealing with Diabetes Burnout.
I though diabetes burnout would look like giving up on my management or feeling like things were hopeless. But Diabetes burnout is subtle. Mine was triggered by a severe low. I wrote about that on the blog too.
Since my low I’ve lost confidence with dosing. Even after meeting with my diabetes coach and fine-tuning things, I’m still afraid. As a result, I’ve been taking less than I should, or over treating a low and then not correcting when I go high. I’ve let my blood sugars run high over night. Been afraid to adjust my basal rate and tweaked and adjusted my bolus ratios up and down like a yoyo. Looking at my meter day after day and watching the peaks and valleys, I feel defeated. I keep asking myself where did I go wrong? I have all the right education, I know what I need to do, but when it comes to doing it, I don’t.
In Tandem with going plant based, I’ve been studying Mental health Aware Yoga. This involves being able to tailor a class to students dealing with any kind of mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, trauma and stress. One of the first things I learned was how to create a safe container. How to make my students feel safe no matter what.
Feeling safe goes hand and hand with gaining confidence. And if I’m really honest with myself, right now I feel the opposite. Out of my depth and worried I’ll never regain ground.
So how can I create a safe container for my life with diabetes? I don’t want to wrap myself in cotton wool, but I do need to feel safe when making decisions that often make me feel like I am teetering on the edge. It’s heart thumping, stomach churning scary stuff. Who wants to jump of a cliff ever?
There’s a Zen story:
“An honor student, frustrated with his life and with school, worried about what tomorrow may bring, approached his teacher asking for some guidance.
“The story goes,” says the teacher in response to his students request for help, “That a Buddhist Monk was walking through the mountains one day. Then, out of nowhere, a tiger appears, chasing the monk towards the edge of a cliff. The monk, in his quest to escape the tiger, runs to the edge of the cliff and climbs over the side, where he sees five other tigers 15 feet below him, waiting to eat him.
So, the monk is just hanging there, holding on to a vine on the side of the cliff, waiting there for the little chance he has to escape or for his imminent demise. Then, as the monk hangs there, exploring his options, he turns to the left and sees a strawberry.
He smiles, “Wow what a magnificent strawberry!” he says to himself. So, he picks it and eats it.
The student waited for his teacher to continue but it was clear that the teacher was done with the story. “That’s it? That’s the story? The monk is about to be eaten by tigers so he reaches out to pick and eat a strawberry?” the student exclaimed.
“What’s the point?” he added.
The teacher replied, “The lesson is to know and embrace the experience of being alive. You must be alive every second you are alive.”
The student responded, “But teacher, everyone is alive when they are alive.”
“No,” said the teacher. “It’s the experience of being alive in each moment, in each experience, good and bad. We must be alive every second we are alive and not simply exist and live out our days.”
The student, confused, questioned his teacher, asking, “But everyone alive is alive, aren’t they?” he insisted.
“No. Look at you now,” explained the teacher. “You are running around being chased by tigers, consumed with your thoughts of how it could be better, how you could be better if only things were different. Yet, you have shared with me over the past year several difficult situations, in addition to the circumstances that I have observed, how you were about to be eaten by tigers and how you have been saved in each situation. You can’t be alive if you are living in fear and if you’re living in fear you can’t see and experience life; the magnificence of your life that is right in front of you in each moment.” – Keith Rosen
The story is a powerful reminder for anyone who grapples with challenging circumstances. To be fully alive means feeling the fear and doing it anyway.
And that's what I intend to do. Starting today...
with great respect...