On Thursday 14th January 2011 I was diagnosed with diabetes.
The diagnosis has been creeping up on me.
Several years ago I was diagnosed with Impaired Fasting Glycaemia and have had regular tests keeping an eye on it Over time the test results have gradually gotten worse and particularly during the last few months. Both my ex-parents have diabetes so my risks factors for the illness were much higher . The sustained stress of the last few months has caused my blood sugars to fluctuate wildly so there was a certain inevitability of the diagnosis eventually coming. I hoped I’d keep dodging the bullet but things have caught up with me.
For most people a diagnosis of diabetes means making changes to their diet to make it more healthy and adding in some exercise to help bring the diabetes under control. But for me that is complicated by several factors.
Firstly I have ME/CFS which has severely restricted my life for the last 9 years. I used to walk miles before that diagnosis, now I hardly walk at all because my energy levels and stamina are very poor. It also means I do not have energy to prepare and cook meals and rely on stuff I can just put in the oven and microwave. That makes healthy eating a big challenge to begin with!
Secondly I have 2 eating disorders which add to the challenges of healthy eating. The eating disorders have no doubt contributed to the diabetes and make bringing the diabetes under control a massive problem. The eating disorders are deeply enmeshed not only in issues related to the abuse I survived but also in how food was used to abuse, manipulate and control me. Throughout my life I’ve had a very poor relationship with food. I never grew up with regular healthy meals. That concept has been a very difficult one for me to grasp throughout my life.
When my Doctor said to me that with the diagnosis came the need to lose weight I told her losing weight is fraught with huge issues for me. For a start I’ve always been fat. I’ve always been overweight. I was a fat baby, a fat toddler, a fat child, a fat adolescent and a fat adult. That is how I’ve always been. There are many factors involved in that. Over the years health professionals have tried to get me to lose weight and put me on various diets but every time I’ve ended up worse that I was before I went on the diet because it's not a simple issue of losing weight. There are many factors involved. Each time I ended up feeling like a total failure.
I don't know how you reverse an entire lifetime of being fat and overweight. I’d love to be nice and slim, but life’s never been like that for me. I have huge issues about my body, weight being just one of them.
To be honest I've so many other things going on at the moment that the last thing I need to happen is to be guilt tripped or to feel like a failure or feel bad about myself because I cannot conform to regimes to control my weight, diet and diabetes.
I’m just beginning therapy to begin to deal with the abuse and the issues surrounding it. I know I have several years of therapy ahead of me. I know my issues with food are deeply linked to the abuse and are not going to be solved overnight or quickly.
I know my poor physical and mental health has its roots in the abuse and trauma – asthma, high blood pressure, ME/CFS, long term chronic depression, anxiety disorder, PTSD, DID, BPD – these are all stress/trauma related. Diabetes also has factors related to stress as well as genetics and diet.
I’m under no doubt that the sustained stress of my life and the events of the last few months have contributed to the fact I now have diabetes.
I know solving any of the issues that caused these illnesses in the first place is going to be long and complex.
It is not going to be easy or straightforward. The diabetes cannot be treated in isolation to all the other factors in my life. The only way any of the health related issues – physical or mental - can be successfully treated is by treating me as a whole person – not just a diabetic – not just someone with PTSD/BPD/DID – not just someone with high blood pressure – not just someone with long term chronic depression. I'm someone who’s been severely traumatised by life events and has several physical and mental health problems because of that trauma.
When the Doctor spoke about the importance of a healthy diet and losing weight she used language about having a healthy future. I had to stop her at that point because she was not in touch with where I’m at or what I’ve gone through.
I’m still trying to figure out whether I have a life worth living. I’m still trying to figure out whether I have a future at all. My entire life until the last few months has been about merely existing, staying alive for the sake of staying alive. It’s been about surviving for the sake of surviving. It’s not been about living.
The whole point of me speaking out and beginning therapy is to change all that, but that is going to take time.
I know that with diabetes the sooner diet etc are sorted out the better the long term prospects are. But I have so many issues going on and so many other things to sort out first before diet/healthy eating and so on can be addressed. I know that as issues related to the abuse and to how food was used in that abuse are faced and worked through it MAY be possible to resolve the deep seated long term eating disorders. Work like that is not quick or easy or guaranteed.
I don’t know how the diabetes is going to be brought under control in these circumstances. I’m still reeling from the diagnosis and its implications for my life. I do not know how a way forward can be found; just that one must be somehow. The solutions are not simple and simplistic ways of trying to address the issues will not resolve the problems or create a way through.
The way ahead is not easy but then life has never been easy for me, anything but. To be honest this diagnosis was the last thing I needed at this point in my life. It’s come at the worst possible time. And that’s where I’m at.