|Posted on September 25, 2015 at 12:00 PM|
Originally Published on InsulinNation.com under title "Having T1D Doesn't Give You a Monopoly on Suffering"
September 25th, 2015 | by Katherine Marple
If you were to meet me for the first time, not knowing anything about my history, you wouldn't guess that I have diabetes. I look like the average person, act like everything in my world is at peace, and spend the majority of my day with my kids, family and friends. I am a normal person.
But, I also have diabetes which can sometimes be extremely invasive, stressful and scary. Every time I eat or drink, I take a shot. No bite of food or swig of a drink is too small to be accounted for with an injection. When I exercise for an extended period of time, I check my glucose and adjust. Before I go to bed, I measure, check and set up back up plans in case something unexpected goes wrong. But, if you had just met me, you wouldn't immediately guess I worry about my future health several times each day. I have an invisible illness.
A friend of mine lives in constant pain. Pain that is so chronic that she doesn't even remember what not being in pain feels like. But, if you look at her, you wouldn't know it. She smiles through the pain, takes her prescription drug medication and hopes she doesn't become addicted to them. Her condition is invisible.
Another friend of mine is manic depressive. She talks excitedly about everything in her life, has strong opinions and game plans set in place for her future. But at times, she is severely depressed, despondent and sometimes even agoraphobic. Her condition is invisible.
This leads me to believe that any person I encounter is also battling something that is not easily seen. PTSD, loss of a family member, migraines, or any number of other invisible ailments, big or small; temporary or limitless. Is it then safe to say there isn't a need to compare our difficulties?
Everyone's worst day is their own. Until we can literally get inside one another's thoughts, we will never be able to determine another's exact point of view. My worst day could be a ketoacidosis episode, followed by an incompetent staff, and not enough hugs from my family. My friend's worst day could be waking up with an incapacitating headache and trying to go grocery shopping. It's all a matter of perspective.
It's similar to how I explain competition to my children. My four year old thinks my three year old is "little". Compared to her wise four years of life, her sister may seem little to her. But for my three year old, she has never been this age before, so in her mind, she is big, wise, brave, capable and strong.
Some people find it necessary to compare their worst days with the next person. This can be intended as motivation and proof that personal issues can be overcome. But, in most cases, comparing pain simply illegitimizes one person's struggles versus the other's - isolating both parties.
In the age of information, let's seek to share our stories in order to gain more wisdom. Let's set aside our need to be the Most, Best, Worst, or Right. Let's walk alongside each other, picking each other up when we take turns falling down. We all need a helping hand along the way. Let's do this together. Because it is just a little bit better when we are together.
About the Author
Katherine Marple Katherine Marple was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 14 in 1998. She is the author of two diabetes-related novels, Wretched (this is my sorry) and Deathly Sweet. She has two children. You can learn more about her at http://www.katherinemarple.com.
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