(Is it okay to let loose with a stream of consciousness sort of thing today? I hope so. My mind isn’t capable of anything else at the moment.)
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the diabetes community. So much has changed since the Internet started to populate with patient stories. I don’t mean that in a “oh, the industry!” sort of sense, but more that the concept of “I am not alone with diabetes” has gone from hopeful to factual over the last decade. I love the diabetes community. After such a long gap between camp and finding online support, I appreciate the friendships – real and true – I’ve forged over the last decade. To go full Jerry McGuire on the whole mess, they complete me. I even appreciate the people I find prickly to a certain extent, because my interactions with people I don’t get along with help me grow as a person.
My feelings about the community are a weird contrast against diabetes itself, because the disease is not something I love. I don’t appreciate it. I don’t view it as a gift. I view it as a disease. So it’s a strange hybrid feeling to be so taken with a group of people anchored around a disease I would give back in a heartbeat.
(Oh hell yes, I’m in that kind of hug-everything mood today. Wait until I cut-and-paste blooming violets and rainbows and doughnut rain up in this blog post. It’s a combination of jet lag and hypoglycemia.)
By contrast, I haven’t wanted to share so much online these days. I thought I was hitting a pocket of diabetes burnout a few weeks ago, but then I realized my blood sugars were fine. I was checking my blood sugar at the necessary times. I was wearing my devices and doing whatever was necessary to keep them, and me, up and running. It’s a comfortable diabetes apathy that I’ve settled into, with results that are in range enough and diabetes control that falls within the guidelines well enough. But I’ve wanted to shut the computer more and more lately. Maybe it’s not diabetes but social media burnout?
Over the last few weeks, my life has been busy in ways that have nothing to do with diabetes. I’ve been outside logging miles on the running trails, as this is my favorite time of year to run outside. I have a new, comfortable routine of waking up before the rest of my family and making a pot of coffee, then reading blogs and emails while single-handedly killing the pot of coffee. (Which means, by the time everyone else wakes up, I’m completely lit.) We moved to a new town, I’ve been on the road for work, I’ve been investing myself in friendships and family, and I’m trying to spend more time talking to people I love instead of Tweeting into the abyss. I made a conscious decision to pull back from the Internet and rethink how I felt about advocacy, especially in the wake of, for me, a less-than-fulfilling Diabetes Month.
And then yesterday I spent the day with the P4DC team and this welcomed wave of re-invigoration washed over me. The conversations were diverse, but did close with a brainstorming session about Spare A Rose, which reminded me that the DOC isn’t about sharing thoughts and feelings without recognizing how frigging lucky we are. We are lucky. I feel like we found our footing, as an online community, by connecting with one another and comparing our good moments with our tougher moments, talking about our general lifestyle stuff and we got really comfortable in that space. And then we started to realize, after connecting with our fellow and privileged peers (because if you’re reading this on a glowing screen, you’re luckier than most), that we live in a bubble of sorts. We have nice problems to be managing, all things considered. I think we came to realize that, as a community, and our ambitions and outreach started to step outside of serving ourselves. Greater good sort of stuff.
That inspires the absolute hell out of me. Changing our world takes a lot of effort and dedication and determination but good heavens, we can do this. I am going through the ebb and flow of life and diabetes and all that comes with continuing to move forward but when I look at this community and see what we’ve done, and then consider what we’re capable of, the advocate in me rises from the ashes of burnout. Like a phoenix. (Or, probably more realistically, a groundhog.)
Whether furry or on fire, my desire to be part of this vibrant community remains intact, intense, and appreciative.