Category Archives: Support system

A Decade without Self-Harm

Ten years ago today, I self-harmed by cutting the word FEAR into my thigh with a safety pin. 

It wasn’t the first time I had ever self-harmed. I had been doing it for two years at that point, albeit not very often, and rarely drawing blood. Most of the time, I would just trace over an existing scar on my wrist at the base of my hand, but sometimes I’d get more aggressive and scratch and cut a little higher up on my wrist. It was always to cause pain to create a physical release for emotional stress and pain – Never to try to die. 

January 26, 2007 I was told by the boy that I liked that he didn’t want to date me. It was yet another blow to my fragile self-esteem. I took a few emo selfies (although that word didn’t exist yet at the time) and then decided I needed to self-harm to bring emotional pain to a physical level. 


It was the first time I’d ever cut on my leg. It was also the first time I ever told anyone I knew in person about it. (I had a group of internet friends who knew and we were all open with each other about our struggles). I told a friend the next day that I was struggling and what I had done, confiding in them. They promised they would come and pick me up and we’d go driving around and hang out to cheer me up.  

They never came. 


I was dragged, kicking and screaming, to the ER by my parents who believed I was suicidal. I was forced to strip naked and be examined by a nurse, who was also a classmates mother who I had known for years. I was then also examined by a doctor who was the father of another classmate. I had to talk to a therapist on the phone at 2am because it was snowing really hard and the therapist couldn’t make the drive down from Kalamazoo. I was eventually released from the ER after almost 6 hours, feeling humiliated and more miserable than ever, and forced to see a therapist a few days later for one session to make sure I was okay.

It was the beginning of a long ride through rock bottom for me. 


For weeks afterward, my mother would walk into the bathroom while I was changing, pretending to do other tasks while she searched by body for signs of self-harm. 

I had been betrayed by my friends, and that cut more deeply than any sharp object could. I had reached out for love and support from my friends and had been given embarrassment and suffering instead. At the time, I was livid, but so desperate for friendship that I let them back in. However it took a long time for me to be able to fully trust them again. In hindsight I know that it wasn’t betrayal but rather teenage kids trying to help another teenage kid with something over their heads in the only way they knew how. 

I knew I wanted to be free from self-harm. I didn’t know how to do it, so I began keeping track of how long it had been since that night. A week passed. Then a month. Then a year. 

So now, here I am. Ten years later. I honestly never thought I would be able to say that. I knew I would struggle – and struggle I did. I had the support of a lot of friends through the hardest times, which were the first few months afterwards. (At that time, I didn’t know that part of my problem was undiagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder, which I began treating in 2012). 

I adopted a “fake it til you make it” attitude to get me through, and that was a large part of my success. Did I have my life all together and figured out? No way. But I told myself that I did. I would tell myself that I had it together and that I was succeeding and beautiful and happy until I slowly started to believe those things for real. 

With each passing year, it got a little easier to resist the pull to harm myself. There were times where I nearly failed – but I didn’t. I held fast to the belief that if I just held on, that I would get through – and I did

While compiling this entry and reading through old journals for reference, I found this that I had written two months after the last time I self-harmed:

if i have already felt this much pain at seventeen, then what shit will i have faced/be facing when i am twenty-six or thirty-four or fifty or eighty?

I’ve faced so much since I wrote that ten years ago. I dated a man who was sexually and emotionally abusive, and it shaped so much of who I am as a person. I found and married the love of my life. I was diagnosed with diabetes. I started my own business and have traveled all over the country to do what I love. I received several promotions at work, where I do a job I never thought I’d be doing. I dedicated myself to an extremely strict church for the better part of a decade. I’ve faced my seasonal depression head-on. 

And that’s all by age 26. I can’t vouch for 34, 50, or 80 yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ve got it on lock. If not, I’m going to keep faking it until I make it. 

If I can do it, you can do it. 


If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, or just need someone to talk to, please reach out to one of the resources listed below. You are important and we need you here with us. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (available 24 hours per day)

Suicide Hotlines by State: suicide.org

Crisis text line: Text message GO to 741741

Additional resources: To Write Love On Her Arms

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Filed under Before, Real life, Support system

Still Diabetic

Diabetes Awareness Month is over, but my fight with diabetes isn’t. I’m still diabetic. There still isn’t a cure for my condition. 


Technology has advanced, but I have to rely on it and constantly plan ahead in case it fails. I have to deal with problems that normal people don’t even know are a thing, let alone think about. (like my dog getting tangled in my insulin pump tubing in the middle of the night)


Yet I will continue on, with feelings of melancholy – Yes, I’m alive, but it’s still a hindered existence. 

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World Diabetes Day 2016

November 14th is World Diabetes Day. It also marks the birthday of Dr. Banting, the man who co-discovered insulin, enabling those with diabetes to no longer die from their condition. 

For this year, I asked my Facebook friends to ask me anything they wanted to know about Diabetes and I’d answer them here. So let’s jump into it!


Allen and I had actually been married for almost 2 years before I was diagnosed. So while I can’t directly relate to Kendall on this one, I do know what it is like to develop new relationships post-diagnosis. 

One month after I was diagnosed, I changed jobs. I’ve always been very up-front about being diabetic and what that means for the people who work closely with me. In my experience, it hasn’t hindered any friendships – my coworkers have generally been curious and many have been massively supportive for the past four years. Of course, none of these relationships has been romantic in nature, but I think that ultimately, there are many good people out there that want to understand and be supportive, and as long as you approach every question with a good, honest, informative answer, then people will be open and receptive of who you are. 


A non-diabetic person should be around 80-120 mg/dL – and many type 2 diabetics should try to stay close to this range as well. Ultimately, this is a conversation that should be had between you and your doctor. I personally have my range set from 80-180 mg/dL. 


Allen has been SO helpful through my journey. He does all of my Dexcom CGM insertions, mostly because I typically want it inserted in places that aren’t easy to do by myself. He also occasionally helps insert infusion sets in hard-to-reach areas. 

Otherwise, Allen is very much hands-off in regards to my care. He’ll wake me up at night if he hears my Dexcom alarming, and if I say “I’m low” he’ll immediately jump out of bed and get me a juice (and then ask what my number is when he gets back). We also use Dexcom share (so I can see my numbers on my Apple Watch) but Allen has one alarm set on that one: He’ll be notified if I go below 40 mg/dL. That way if I’m not with him, he can message me and see if I’m okay, and if I don’t reply then he knows to start calling everyone I’m with (or 911 if I’m alone). It’s a system that works for us but it may not be right for everyone. 


Nope, but there are some I prefer to avoid. Orange juice is the main one. It’s one of my favorite things, but I just can’t ever time the insulin right for it and end up miserable. I usually avoid cake and cookies as well if I can help it. I also will always choose diet pop over regular – I’d rather save the carbs for food instead. I probably should avoid more things, like Chinese food and pizza, but they are just too yummy. 


Yes and no. 

Yes, insulin companies offer coupon programs and discount cards – however, these are usually unavailable to the people who truly need them and they do not address the true problem– sky-high prices for consumers. 

There are a lot of groups on Facebook where people can pay it forward and directly send supplies to someone in need. I actually benefitted from a pay it forward group early on in pumping when my insurance was changing for the year and I was having issues getting supplies because of having to get prescriptions and authorizations. However due to the fact that selling or trading prescription medication is illegal (and if the items were purchased by insurance dollars then it is also fraud at that point) many people shy away from this. (Test strips fall into a gray area because they can be bought OTC)

There are many reputable organizations out there that accept donated supplies to help those in need including Life for a Child, Insulin for Life, and Marjorie’s Fund to name a few. 


I love this question so much because I really had to stop and think about it. But here it is:

You don’t see the repeat lows through the night. Waking up 4, 5, 6 times in one night because your blood sugar won’t come up (or go down). Trying not to overcorrect, trying to figure out what you did wrong/right/different, trying to just get some freaking sleep. 

You don’t see the body image issues. The weight gain as punishment for doing your pancreas’ job, the bruising and scars from poke after poke after poke, the struggle to find clothes you can wear your pump with (dresses with pockets are SO hard to come by). 

You don’t see the hundreds of times I make a diabetes-related decision every single day. I haven’t been to my desk in a while so I missed breakfast, did I already give insulin for it? I hope I didn’t. I’ve been running around like crazy, being way more active than I usually am so my blood sugar will probably start dropping soon. I want to have the cupcakes my coworker brought in but I don’t even have enough insulin in my pump to cover it, I will have to pass for today. 

You don’t see the shame and emotional toll of having a seriously misunderstood and often joked about chronic condition that will likely kill you. You don’t see every time a diabetes myth is perpetuated, or misinformation is spread, or a joke is made in poor taste but people who aren’t directly affected by it don’t care because.. why would they? Human nature – if it doesn’t directly affect you, then do you really care? Not typically. 


If you read through all of this, know that I appreciate you. Any advocating I can do is a step in the right direction. Diagnosis rates are still on the rise. If I can only ask one thing, that is for everyone to know the signs and symptoms of type 1 diabetes. It can happen to anyone at any time – it happened to me. 

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Survivor’s Guilt

Earlier today I saw a post in one of the diabetes groups I’m in, and it struck a chord with me.

A lot of the general ignorance of type 1 diabetes doesn’t phase me anymore. I’ve become so numb to the harmful (and completely misguided, ill-informed jokes) that they just roll off of me now.

But this got to me.

The post was an article about the ever-rising price of insulin. Someone had left a comment on the post and the mom of a type 1 kid screenshotted it and shared it in the group I’m in.


Immediately, my stomach lurched and I wanted to cry.

A thousand thoughts rushed through my mind – familiar thoughts that I’ve had many times before, but that doesn’t make them any less troubling.

What if I’m meant to be sick?

What if I’m meant to die?


Survivor’s guilt. It isn’t something that is openly discussed in the Diabetic Online Community. At least, not that I’ve seen. So here I am, proclaiming it – I deal with survivor’s guilt over my diagnosis.

Before 1921 when Dr. Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin, every single person with type 1 diabetes died. Every. Single. One. At most, they could live a few months post-diagnosis – but it was more of a shell of a life, an existence spent in ungodly suffering from the havoc high blood sugars can cause.

Is my life greater than any of theirs?

What about the people who are on insulin but still pass away due to dead in bed or other complications of diabetes? Or the ones who are misdiagnosed and die.

I shouldn’t be alive. I suffered under misdiagnosis for five months. I should have complications. But I don’t. Why? Were those people somehow less deserving of life than I am?

Is it destined that only the richest of the rich will be able to afford insulin and the rest of us will wither away? If you look on the streets, that’s already the case. Diabetic homeless people die every day because they do not have access to insulin. Are their lives of less worth than mine?

I don’t write this to incite pity, but rather to just air my feelings out. I can’t help that I feel this way, and living in denial of what I’m dealing with will only make things more difficult for me. As someone who already suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, I don’t need anything else messing with my mind.

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I’m Okay

I have really been slacking off in blogging. Unfortunately, diabetes doesn’t slack off. Ever. 

I reached my four year diaversary in July without much fuss. I just didn’t have the energy to “celebrate” this year like I have in years past. 

I think I’m dealing with a bit of diabetes burnout. My numbers are still okay, I’m just feeling more.. Blah about the whole process. I’m not nearly as excited to educate others here recently. That’s a weird realization and an uncomfortable thing to be saying [writing], considering that is my entire platform on this blog. But I think we all go through ups and downs and phases. I know I wasn’t always a super vocal advocate so I suppose it would be normal to go through a period of time where I tone down the advocacy a bit. 
Not that I’m any less passionate about the subject. Just less vocal, for now. 


We’ve been very busy on the photography side of the house this summer and it will continue well into the fall as well. 

I’m not ready for summer to end. I’ve been involved in a lot of other activities this summer, including a dodgeball tournament for my work, playing LOTS of Pokemon Go (and even dressing the part), making new friends, hitting up the beach and getting some horrific tan lines, getting my hair colored for the first time in 8 years, and preparing to be part of a pilot program for telecommuting for my work. 


So overall, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time. I have some of the most amazing friends on the planet. I’m enjoying life and of course not letting diabetes ruin any experience for me, even the beach. 

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#DBlogWeek: Please Don’t Say…

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Check out my other #DBlogWeek posts here. Learn more about #DBlogWeek here.

Today is day three of #DBlogWeek! Here’s today’s topic:

Many advocate for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes. For some, they don’t care, others care passionately. Where do you stand when it comes to “person with diabetes” versus “diabetic”, or “checking” blood sugar versus “testing”, or any of the tons of other examples? Let’s explore the power of words, but please remember to keep things respectful.

Am I a person with diabetes? Am I a diabetic? There are a whole bunch of articles discussing the differences, what is proper, etc.

Here’s my take: I don’t care if I’m described as a person with diabetes or as a diabetic. But that’s because I have bigger fish to fry.

do care when people say I’m “suffering from diabetes.”

Yes, I have a chronic, as-of-yet incurable autoimmune disease. But is this the face of someone who is suffering?

No. No, it isn’t.

So please, be mindful of your wording when it comes to that. I am not suffering, so please don’t say I am! 🙂

Read more posts for #DBlogWeek here.

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Confidence

So far, 2016 has been a journey of self-discovery in both my personal and professional life. One of my main points of focus in both aspects of my life has been working on my confidence. 

A lot has changed in a few short months. At work, I would be placed in a situation where I needed to make a decision that was slightly above my pay grade, but I was capable of making those decisions – I just wasn’t ever confident in actually doing it. Now that I’m having to make more and more of them, and being expected to now that I am acting as a “team captain” of sorts, I have been working on exuding confidence in my decisions and accepting critique if I make the wrong decision. So far, so good. 

 
In my personal life, it’s been somewhat similar. Allen and I were faced with an important decision to make – and we needed to be confident in our choice. The stakes were impossibly high, and the stress had pushed my heart rate and blood sugar averages both even higher. After a lot of talking and soul-searching, we made the decision to leave our church that we’ve attended for the last 10 years. 
(I have to sidebar here for a couple reasons. First, people don’t just LEAVE the church organization we were attending. Especially people who are seen as lifers – ones that will be there forever, which we were. Second, we didn’t leave on bad terms – in fact, we were given the Pastor’s blessing to leave the church and were told that we were welcome back at any time. It was incredibly amicable.)

  
However, no one really knows the full reasons behind our decision to leave, and due to that, plus the fact that nobody leaves the church, we’ve been ostracized by our peers. Being treated as if you’re dead is harder than I even imagined. Especially when it’s people you’ve grown up with for the past 10 years – people you’ve watched graduate high school (and did their senior pictures), people whose weddings you’ve attended (and even photographed), people who have spent countless hours at your house for youth nights and who you called honest-to-God friends before you made the decision to leave. 

It hurts that your supposed “friends and family” for the last decade don’t even ASK what happened – they assume they know, or just don’t even care. But, I’m confident in knowing that our true friends will be there for us as we go through this adjustment period. I’m confident that we’ll come out of this stronger, smarter and better off. I’m also confident that we made the right decision for our health, happiness, and overall life direction. And lastly, I’m confident that if people truly care about what’s going on in our lives, why we left, or want to be our friends, then they’ll come around. Otherwise, it was all fake, and we’re better off without it. 

Why am I talking about all this? Well, my Fitbit had made sure I knew that my resting heart rate was way too high, and my Dexcom made it painfully obvious that I was dealing with stress highs. In the days after we left, my blood sugar and heart rate averages both dropped dramatically. 

   
Confidence is so important, and it’s something I’ve always struggled with, but no more. I want to be the best me that I can be, in every aspect of my life.   

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Family Portraits

Allen and I went on quite the adventure here at the beginning of 2016. We started out with our apartment being renovated and expanded, adding almost 50% more space than we originally had. It’s so wonderful to have more space and we’re very grateful for it!

  
  
Then on the 2nd, we threw a surprise 25th wedding anniversary party for Allen’s parents. We had been planning it for 2 months and somehow managed to pull it off without his mom being tipped off to the surprise. It was a blast!

  
 
Only a couple days later, we left on Allen’s birthday for San Francisco, California. One of my best friends, Elizabeth, was getting married so we flew out to photograph her big day, and piggybacked a vacation on top of it. 

It was beautiful and we had such a great time, but one story from our adventure in particular stands out as one I want to share here. 

  
On the second morning, I woke up in Elizabeth’s apartment where we had been staying and went into the living room where I ran into a stranger in her apartment. I quickly learned this stranger was a friend of Elizabeth’s from back home in Virginia named Julie. 

Julie sat down to have breakfast, and I started to do a site change. Julie and I were talking the whole time I rewound my pump, drew up the insulin, etc and she didn’t seem alarmed or even like she cared, and I was still so jet lagged, so I didn’t elaborate on what I was doing. 

Soon enough, Elizabeth came back from her eyebrow appointment and got in the shower. A few minutes later, there was an unexpected (to Julie and I) knock on Elizabeth’s door. I opened it to about 10 members of her family who had just arrived from Virginia. Luckily, Julie knew them, and Allen had just woke up, so Allen and I made quick introductions and headed off for our adventure for the day. 

  
Later that day when I saw Elizabeth again, she informed me of a funny conversation that had transpired after Allen and I left. Somehow, it was brought up that I had stabbed myself with a needle and medicine from the fridge in front of Julie. Elizabeth’s brother, Porter, had freaked out, thinking his sister’s friend was a drug addict. Luckily, Elizabeth quickly explained that I was diabetic, not a crack addict. So of course, Elizabeth’s family’s first impression of me was that I was a drug addict and was shooting up in her kitchen at 7am. 

Note to self: Take a minute and explain what you’re doing to a total stranger when in a one-on-one situation. Lol! Luckily it became a source of humor for the rest of the trip. Oh, and the wedding went beautifully!

  

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Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk – Unless You’re Low

I reached a new level of low blood sugar last night – not in terms of actual mg/dl number, but in the events that transpired. 

When I went to bed last night, my blood sugar was a little high but on its way down. I woke up twice to correct for the low in the night, eating a total of three rolls of smarties. 

Then at 3am, my husband rolled over and woke me up, complaining that both my Dexcom and my Enlite cgms were alarming (because I’m running both at the moment for a future blog post). In my low and half-asleep stupor, I yelled at him that I had already eaten a bunch of smarties, before I finally rolled out of bed to get a glass of milk. 

I made it to the kitchen, tested my blood sugar (72) and calibrated both cgms. I grabbed the chocolate milk and began pouring it into a glass. But I started to feel weird, like I was going to pass out. I raised the glass up to my lips and immediately it fell out of my hands and spilled all over the counter, the floor, my dexcom and myself. The room was spinning. I stumbled and sat down on the floor of the kitchen and mustered up enough strength to yell for my husband. 

Allen jumped out of bed and, seeing what had happened, quickly poured me a new glass of milk. He got a towel to clean up the mess, and also grabbed his phone to snap a picture of the mess, because he knew I’d want it for my blog. 

    
Meanwhile I sat in a ball on the floor, drinking my milk and trying not to cry. I was so embarrassed that I had lost control like that, especially when I wasn’t even all that low! But every low is different and diabetes is still unpredictable. I’m just thankful that the cgm technology I am lucky enough to have did its job and woke Allen up. 

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The Survival Guide for Being Newly Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as an Adult

Having been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 22, I was thrust into a whole new world in my already established life. I was married, freshly graduated from college, working as a low-level manager at a big box store. For those first 6 months or so, I was completely on my own in this new reality. Any time I tried finding info on what to expect as a newly diagnosed adult T1, I’d only be able to find things parents had written about their newly diagnosed kids, or adult T1s who had been diagnosed as kids. There are so many things I wish I would have known, so I’ve compiled them into this list.

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