There are issues we talk about openly in the diabetes community – tips on how to wear a pump, resources for good diet and nutrition, exercise goals, frustrations with blood sugar control, research, and on and on. All of these topics matter because they play a role in diabetes management, and life as a whole. But some of these topics are easier than others. It can be easy to say, “I suck at counting carbs and I need help!” but it’s another discussion entirely to give voice to, “I’m dealing with reproductive issues and I need support.”
Those personal issues need discussing as much as the topics like counting carbs. Complications are delicate. Fertility is delicate. Sexual issues are delicate. Depression is delicate. These topics are raw and riddled with social stigma, but they need unpacking. Otherwise, they get heavier, already heavy all their own.
I remember when I first read about a woman who had given birth after decades with type 1 diabetes and it soothed a panic in me that was there for years, that idea that motherhood was beyond my grasp. It was a moment, a good moment, that helped change the course of how I approached becoming a mother.
But I also remember the first time I found stories from people in their 20s and 30s who were dealing with diabetes-related complications. This moment was good in a completely different way. My diagnosis of macular edema in 2013 generated more than just a new medical condition to manage, but stirred up all these feelings of failure, guilt, and blame … a deluge I wasn’t really prepared for. These emotions aimed to drown me. I wanted to hide. I had very dark, very uncomfortable thoughts that took me away, in a sense, from my friends and family. I needed support, and am grateful that I found it. Conversations with peers about dealing with complications at a point when I still felt young but realized how many decades of diabetes I’d logged helped me get through the initial diagnosis and kept me on the path of taking care of myself in order to preserve and protect, but also to continue living despite this new diagnosis.
I wanted to share a new website called The Diabetes Mancave, created by a writer who has decided to remain anonymous but not to remain silent, and his website is hosting discussions about the topics of male infertility, retrograde ejaculation, and erectile dysfunction, among other things. From the site:
“You’re not going find my real name here. That’s because this isn’t something I am comfortable sharing online with these issues, because they are very personal and not something I’m comfortable letting everyone tie to my name.
But that aside, this also isn’t about just me. It’s about these issues, and the larger point of how so many men who may be experiencing these, just don’t share because they aren’t comfortable talking about them.
… In a Diabetes Community where we so often tell each other “You Are Not Alone,” I certainly do feel alone.
I’m hoping the D-Man Cave can help remedy that, to some extent. Because I don’t want to keep this in anymore, and I don’t want to feel so alone.”
Discussions and blogs (and Twitter profiles) like his are long overdue. I’m really sorry you’re dealing with these issues, Diabetes Mancave guy, but I am so, so grateful you are putting them out there. I hope you find community and support because by putting your story out there, you’re potentially providing a life preserver for someone else. Thank you for being brave, and encouraging others to be brave, too.