Chronic Illness Doesn’t Mean You Have to Be Extreme

As a person with type 1 diabetes, a chronic illness, I beat myself up when it gets in the way or makes things more difficult- when it’s present- when maybe it’s a little less invisible.

I have this overwhelming feeling that I’m failing. That I could do better. That it shouldn’t be a factor to finishing my “to do” list or doing anything in general- participating. That I don’t want all eyes on me. That I want it to stay invisible. That I feel sick. That I feel defective.

When my blood sugars won’t cooperate or my period won’t stop or I can’t breathe- it hits me- yeah- technically I’m sick.

And I try to give myself some credit. I really do.

But it can be hard.

And I know this feeling I have- I know I’m not the only one. I know we technically shouldn’t feel this way and shouldn’t admit it. But- so many of us feel it- this feeling that we need to not only be perfect with our chronic illness(es) but we need to be on the same level- or better- than people without them.

It gets engrained into us as children (and beyond of course)- you can do anything regardless of type 1 diabetes. Don’t let it stop you or get in the way. Impress people with all you can do and better. You should hide it- hide how you feel- don’t let them see you crumble or shake. No evidence of the war inside your body.

Then we’re shown constant examples of athletes and celebrities.

But- not everyone becomes an athlete or a celebrity even in general- those odds are slim.

But they’re the main examples we get (which- yes- I still appreciate). But it’s why I’m so passionate about having more examples out there- of everything- of every type of person.

When really- I want more people that are living their lives every day. I want the everyday people. Growing up- those were the people I looked up to- and I jumped at any chance I got for someone to look up to- luckily- I had camp for a lot of that.


I want the messages that yes- you can do anything you set your mind to- but it doesn’t have to be about proving people wrong or doing better than people without T1D.

I want to hear that

T1D can make it harder- specifically more frustrating. But still possible.

And guess what? It might get in the way- that doesn’t mean it’s stopping you. It just might get in the way.

You might have to sit out of the soccer game for a few minutes to sip on juice

You might have all eyes on you- when you check- when you’re at the airport going through security.

You might need to call out of work or you’ll be late.

You shouldn’t take that exam if your BG is out of range.

You might not be able to participate in the halftime show for marching band.

You might forget your line in theatre.

(those are just specific examples I remember from growing up off the top of my head).

That it happens- and it can get in the way- and it sucks- and it makes you feel self-conscious and all eyes are on you. But you don’t have to hide.

I’m not saying to aim for this or always do this- or to use it an excuse- or any of that- but it happens- and gah- I wish someone had told teenage me that this happens- like really told me- engrained it in my head.

But you can do it- you might have to do a little more- you might have to try different ways. And you don’t have to prove anyone wrong- or be better because you have this.

Maybe you’ll cry about the frustration or the comments- and you know what? That’s okay.

Maybe you have to do a little more prep- maybe it’ll cause a blip in your plans or your day.

You can be you- whatever that might mean- maybe it is an athlete or a singer or a actor- but maybe it’s also a lawyer, a parent, a business professional, a server, or more.

It doesn’t mean that the chronic illness wins the war- you can win that war- but maybe there’s a battle or so you might not win- and it doesn’t mean you’re giving up or waving that white flag. It just means not right now or not this way- but another way- but later.

And that’s okay. You do you. Be your best self. All of that. But it doesn’t have to be extremes.

Reposted on Diabetes Daily March 2017

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2 thoughts on “Chronic Illness Doesn’t Mean You Have to Be Extreme

  1. Pingback: Endometriosis Awareness Month- Where’s My Gift Receipt? | There's More to the Story: LIFE, Diabetes, and Mental Health

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