It is no secret that living with diabetes comes with many challenges. But living with diabetes has brought me some really interesting opportunities for learning and growth. When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes almost 16 years ago, I couldn’t have imagined the challenges – or the opportunities – that diabetes would give me. While I can’t honestly say that I’m thankful for having diabetes – I would give it back in a heartbeat – but what I can say is that my life includes many things that I would not have, if not for diabetes – and for many of these things I am grateful. Let me explain:
My career: I am a health psychologist. This is a career I would have never considered, probably even knew about, if I did not have diabetes. A big part of my job is to help people with diabetes to live healthy lives. This is something that I am truly passionate about and I am grateful that I can use this passion to help others.
Motivation to maintain a healthy lifestyle: As a person with diabetes, I’m constantly aware how I am feeling. I know this awareness, which I developed by living with diabetes for the past 16 years, motivates me to make healthier choices and be a healthier person.
Better understanding of food and nutrition: As someone who loves to cook and eat, living with diabetes has really made me aware of what I put into my body. I may not always make the best food choices, but I am more aware of how certain foods affect me, and I know this knowledge helps me to eat healthier.
Increased frustration tolerance: I try to keep a pretty tight reign on my blood sugars, but sometimes, despite by best efforts, my blood sugars get out of whack for no good reason. This can be really frustrating! But I am learning to accept that no matter how hard I try, my blood sugars will not always be perfect. Accepting this has made it easier for me to live with other frustrations in my life.
Stronger relationship with my wife: When my wife and I met, she knew nothing about diabetes – and she got a crash course. Since then, she has been my biggest supporter and is there with me during the good times with diabetes as well as the bad. We have developed ways to navigate our marriage with diabetes in the mix. I know that this has made our relationship a lot stronger.
As you can see, my relationship with diabetes is complicated. While I would give it back in a heartbeat, I have found value in what is has given me. These are things I know I will carry with me in the future, and so I am grateful for person that diabetes has allowed (or forced?!) me to be.