Every year on June 1, I have a tradition. I go to a restaurant that my family has been going to for as long as I can remember and I eat pizza to commemorate the day I was diagnosed with diabetes – my ‘diaversary’. This is the same restaurant I was at 16 years ago just before my diagnosis. Every year, my parents join me for dinner and my mom always says, ‘now why are we celebrating the fact that you have diabetes?’ I remind her that we are not celebrating. We are commemorating my diaversary.
This commemoration is important for me. Like it is for most people, being diagnosed with diabetes was a significant event in my life and the day I was diagnosed, my life changed forever. While it’s certainly not an occasion for celebration, I don’t think it should be ignored. Commemorating my diaversary each year gives me the opportunity to reflect on these challenges, as well as the many positive things and opportunities that diabetes has given me, as I start living my next year with diabetes. I always encourage people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes to commemorate their diaversary in a way that is meaningful to them. It is a way both to grieve the things that diabetes has taken away and recognize the things that diabetes has given us.
Oftentimes life, including life with diabetes, gets so hectic that we don’t have a chance to reflect on the things that happen and the impact they have on us. A diaversary is a good time to take a minute and acknowledge the impact that diabetes has had on your life. People with diabetes often feel that something has been taken away from them. A lot of times, it may feel easier to just gloss over, rather than acknowledge this sense of loss and other difficult diabetes-related emotions. However acknowledging this sense of loss and that things are difficult can be a helpful step in not letting them become too overwhelming.
When acknowledging the impact that diabetes has had on your life, it’s important to also recognize your successes. Sometimes we don’t recognize when things are going well or getting better. The diaversary can be a chance to look at the things that are going well in your life (diabetes-related or not) and to celebrate them, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. The diaversary can also be a great opportunity to acknowledge what’s going well and congratulate yourself for your work in making that happen.
Finally, in addition to reflecting on the past, the diaversary is a good time to look to the future and think about what you want to accomplish over the next year. Dream big, but also be realistic and specific, setting some goals you know you can (with some hard work) accomplish in the next year. Use your diaversary to push yourself to do better, both with your diabetes management, and in your life.
As I start another year of life with diabetes, I see a lot of positives, but I see a lot of work that needs to be done. Over the next year, I will continue to manage my diabetes the best that I can and I will also continue working on behalf of people with diabetes to bring awareness and effective interventions to address the behavioral and emotional aspects of diabetes. I hope that next year on June 1, when I go back to that same restaurant, I will be able to commemorate another year with diabetes and celebrate all that I have accomplished, both for myself and on behalf of people with diabetes.
Do you commemorate your diaversary? Write a comment and tell us about what you do!