NHBPM-Day 21

The prompt for NHBPM, Day 21- “Write about mental health”

Guys, I’m going to come right out and say it. Mental health is huge! It’s so important for a person’s overall well-being. Unfortunately, mental health isn’t emphasized in the United States.

That’s evidenced by the recent tragedies in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Would that have happened if Adam Lanza had received help sooner in life? Would that have happened if his mental health had been taken care of from an earlier age?

The tragedy would have been avoided if Lanza had received help. Mentally well people do not do what Lanza did.

When you live life with a health condition, whether it’s Celiacs like my best friend, MVP like my Mom, or Type 1 diabetes like myself, mental health and well-being is just as important in maintaining as is keeping the body healthy.

One of the things I like about holistic approaches  (in conjunction with Western medicine and science) is that they focus on mental health. The state of your mind is extremely important.

My previous roommate, Kelly (she is training to become a shaman) and I had many discussions about holistic medicine, mental health and overall well-being. She really enlightened me about a lot of things that I should have taken as common sense. One of the biggest things she urged me to do when I was first diagnosed with diabetes was to de-stress. Stress makes everything 10 times worse and deteriorates both your mental and physical health.

It’s for that reason that I started doing yoga and meditation. I started working out. I started to de-stress. For anyone that knew me growing up, they’ll tell you that I was a stress ball. I would cry before tests from the sheer stress of taking them. I would stay awake the night before something big and constantly run through all the different (and worst) scenarios of what could happen. I would obsess over little things and things that I had no control over.

I’m happy to say that I’m not like that anymore. Sure, I still stress about things but I’ve learned to manage my stress much better. It doesn’t cripple me anymore or leave me lying away for hours and hours. It doesn’t consume me in the way it used to.

I made a conscious decision to maintain my mental health in the same way I made the conscious decision to maintain my physical health. I’ve learned over the past year that the two are intertwined. If you’re feeding yourself nutrient rich foods and exercising, you’re not only improving your physical health but also your mental health because you feel better about yourself (there’s also proven brain chemistry that happens when you treat your body well).

I think this post may be a bit jumbled, but if you take one thing away from it, it’s that your body is a temple. All parts of it must be fed and maintained. A happy mind is a happy body (I think I made that  up, but you get what I’m trying to say).

 

NHBPM- Day 20

Day 20’s NHBPM post: “Write about alternative treatments/regimens/ medicine. What do you support? What is crazy?”

Considering I’ve just decided to throw away all of my non-organic and non-natural lotions (starting only with my face and body lotions and body washes for now) and will from now on be using all natural products and homemade products, I’m all for alternative treatments, regimens and medicine. I will also be writing a follow up post on this about my new routine… once I finish my NHBPM posts (almost done, I promise!).

Here’s what I’ve done outside of the realm of taking my insulin and Synthroid (because those are a must, as is any type of “Western” medicine when diagnosed with something like diabetes) for Type 1 diabetes and hypothyroidism.

-Cinnamon supplements for blood sugar maintenance (I did this when I was wrongly diagnosed as a Type 2 since it’s said to help. I still occasionally take the supplements)

-Reike sessions. Reike is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. I’ve had a few sessions and they are truly an amazing experience each time.

-Egg cleansing. (yes, you heard correctly) Originating from Mesoamerica, shamans have been using eggs to heal the body for many years.

-Healing stones. Along with my reiki sessions, I’ve done some work with healing stones.

-Yoga. Some might not consider this an alternative treatment, but it does come from the Eastern hemisphere. I do yoga to be fit, like a lot of people, but also do healing yoga practices as part of my medical regimen.

-Vitamins, minerals and supplements. I change these up every few months depending on how I’m feeling but always stick with a multi and fish oil. Currently in my rotation along with those two is Biotin and a B Complex. I did have Green Tea as well, but just ran out. So now I drink it.

I haven’t done things like acupuncture or eating spiders to heal myself, but I wouldn’t turn my head away from those things either if they were thought to help. I would actually like to try acupuncture one day, when I get the funds to do so.

Honestly, nothing is really too crazy to me when it comes to health regimens. Everyone should do what works for them, and if having an egg rubbed over my body while smoke billows around my face makes me feel better, by God I’m going to do it!

One thing I do know is that the Western hemisphere relies heavily on prescribing medicine. You have constant headaches? Here’s a prescription for that. Feel bloated? There’s a pill for that. A lot of times, we have pills shoved into our face to help us when in actuality, we can use more natural remedies to help our ailments, and in return we are helping our bodies.

So, with all that said, I say do what works for you! Sometimes we get cursed with having a chronic disease and it’s up to us to take care of ourselves in any way we see fit. A lot of the things I do for my health regimen also help my mental health, and that’s half the battle.

NHBPM- Day 19

“Write about: Life and Death”

To let everyone (all 10 of you) know what’s going on with my blog, I’m participating in NHBPM at my own pace since it’s already December. I have a draft of all the writing prompts and am trying to work through them when I can. Day 19 asks bloggers to write about life and death. Since this blog carnival is all about health, I know that we should write about life and death as far as our health is concerned, and I will. But first I want to share what I just found out after coming back from a great Friday lunch break with my co-worker where we chatted about silly boys, diets and weekend plans over a glass of wine and healthy entrees (living our life). I found out about death.

Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut had a mass shooting this morning. Right before I went to lunch. While I was planning my lunch, children, 18 as of now, were being shot and killed. I hate to put it so bluntly because my stomach is in knots and I feel nauseous thinking about the terror that school experienced, but that’s what happened. Parents sent their kids off to school in what I can only imagine as high spirits with Christmas looming around the corner. Fridays were always my favorite day of the week while in school (still are as a working adult) and I’m sure laughter was in abundance at Sandy Hook.

I don’t know all the details. They haven’t been released to the public because they are still being gathered. As of now 27 are dead, 18 of those 27 are children. 18 children won’t experience Christmas this year. 18 children’s stockings will go un-stuffed and 18 children’s families will spend their holidays in mourning. But that’s not the extent of the damage. 27 families will spend their holiday thinking about the death of their loved one. Many more families will be affected by the shooting and thoughts about life and death will inevitably come up.

I experienced the panic that comes from knowing someone inside of a school that has a gunman. My brother started his senior year of high school this past August with a mentally ill child shooting up the cafeteria. The panic I experienced was unreal. I had never felt so scared in my life, especially when I didn’t know the details and didn’t know if my brother was one of the kids who had been shot. He wasn’t, luckily, but my thoughts lingered on how he could have been. My grief lay with the children who had been shot and the shooter himself.

To think so little of your life and the life around you that death is the only solution.

Life and death as it relates to me and my diabetes is something I think about as a very real idea. My diabetes has caused me to lead life in a different way. I try to appreciate the little things. I stop and take time to watch the sun rise and set. I find beauty in the small things around me that I never noticed before. I don’t know if it’s because subconsciously, I know I could die. I worry about death but don’t fear it, if that makes sense. I worry that I will have a low at night and I won’t ever wake up from it. I worry about diabetes complications. I worry about cancer. I worry about my health on a constant basis because that’s what happens when you have a chronic disease. You worry. All the time.

It’s knowing that I could die from something diabetes related either now or in the future that has helped me really live my life. I’m a much more laid-back person than I was and really try and do the things that are best for me.

My relationship with death is intertwined with my relationship to life. In a way, for me, the two go hand in hand.
It took me 23 years to come to terms with that relationship in my life. I wish those children had been awarded the same.

“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome”

NHBPM- Day 18

“I want to change THIS about healthcare…”

Wow, there’s SO much I want to change about the U.S. healthcare system. First, I’d like to say thanks to President Obama. Without Obamacare, I would have been, for lack of a better term, royally fucked. My diabetes and hypothyroidism diagnosis came when I was moved out of my parent’s house, four months graduated from college and working in a small consulting company that didn’t offer health insurance. Obamacare allowed me to stay on my parent’s health insurance plan. Thank goodness too. Do you know how much insulin costs without insurance? What about Synthroid? What about the thousands of test strips and lancets?

It ain’t cheap.

I’m not going to complain about the cost of my medication. It’s expensive. Insurance is expensive and I’m thankful I’m covered. Without getting into the real flaws I find in our healthcare system that don’t directly relate to me, I’ll talk about my experiences with healthcare in the U.S. that I find frustrating.

The FDA. There are some great diabetes technologies out there that just aren’t available in the U.S. because they are not FDA approved. There’s a stall somewhere in the paperwork, while they pass drugs like Viagra and male enhancement shit. These technologies include a meter that I found while reading a DOC blog. I wanted it but quickly found out this PWD lived in Canada where the meter was readily available, as was the insurance that covered the test strips. The FDA makes life hard when you live with a chronic disease. It’s almost like they don’t want you to have the tools that could make life easier. I constantly curse their name.

Speaking of insurance. Have you ever had to call your insurance company to talk about coverage? I’m sure every person with a chronic disease or health issue knows exactly what I’m talking about. The wait times are astronomical, and when you finally talk to someone, they don’t have an answer for you so you get passed around like a hot potato trying to figure out whether your insurance will cover the very thing you need to keep you alive.

And let’s talk about coverage for a minute. Why is it that insurance companies are so damn slow to get on board with covering new technologies? I want a new glucometer. It’s the Telcare system. It’s pretty, it lights up, it tracks numbers and patterns, it’s much more technologically advanced than my OneTouch Mini (no offense to my minis!). Does my insurance cover it? No. Of course.

My complaints aren’t new. They are the echoes of every person who relies on medicine to live. Our healthcare system needs a huge reform.

Or at least shorter wait times.

NHBPM- Day 17

“My strengths and weaknesses list post” is the Day 17 prompt for NHBPM (yup, I realize it’s no longer November, but I have been enjoying writing these posts).

I have a lot of strengths and a lot of weaknesses, probably like most people reading this blog. Depending on what the situation is, my strengths could be my weakness and vice versa, so I’ll just name a few of what I think are my strongest strengths and weaknesses.

-I’m extremely caring. This can be both a strength and weakness, especially since I tend to put other people in front of me. I’m slowly learning that I can’t do that though, and have been trying to do what’s best for me in most situations.

-I like things done my way. I get really antsy and annoyed when something is done in a way that I wouldn’t do it. I try to bite my tongue if the situation isn’t a big deal, but usually can’t control what I say if I have a strong opinion on the matter.

-I like to plan things. I have tons of lists going at any given time. I like to know what is happening at all times. This can definitely be a strength and a weakness. Since my diagnosis, I have become more flexible though since a lot of times things happen unplanned.

-I’m positive. For the most part, I’m a cheerleader. I have been called “bubbly” a lot in my lifetime and I attribute that to my attitude. Positive thinking really does wonders for a person’s psyche and those around them.

-I have a lot of love to give. This might go along with the caring but it’s true. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and I think a lot of that has to do with love. Unfortunately, I’ve been burned by this a few times and while I will always consider myself a loving person, my last relationship taught me that being too free with that love doesn’t always end well.

-I have a constant, nagging feeling that I could or should be doing more with my life. I’m not 100% happy about my life situation and do my best not to let it bring me down on a daily basis. Not living in the present is something I struggle with sometimes and definitely wish I could change.

I realize some of these are not clear cut strengths and weakness. This list is not all inclusive, of course and has much more to do with my mental health and well-being than physical.

NHBPM- Day 15

Skipping a lot of prompts here….

Day 15 prompt asks why healthcare companies or healthcare professionals should use social media.

Well, this is an easy one. Everyone uses social media. When I say everyone, I mean everyone. Even my grandpa is on Facebook.

As someone who works in social media, I will always definitely support the use of social media. Not only is it a great tool to stay in touch with people and build your online presence, it’s a great way to learn. It’s apparent with communities like the Diabetes Online Community that groups of people with similarities are coming together to communicate, share information and support each other.

How great would it be if our healthcare companies, doctors, nurses, diabetes educator, etc. was on social media participating in vital conversations as well? Obviously, with confidentiality policies, information about your health wouldn’t be disclosed through social media. But maybe you have a question about a wacky day of blood sugars but don’t want to go through the hassle of calling your doctor, leaving a voicemail and waiting to hear back. Send her a tweet, message him on twitter. Social media can be done practically anywhere, even the bathroom, so your doctor will be able to respond when he/she sees the message/tweet. Checking Twitter and Facebook literally takes 2 seconds and with smartphones, a notification will pop up if someone is trying to get in touch with you.

I also think it’s important for healthcare companies and professionals to know what’s going on in the community of their patients. Of course, I’m mostly referring to endocrinologists and diabetes specialized companies because I’ve got diabetes. But this applies to any specialized doctor.

Just my two cents. What do you think?

NHBPM- Day 10

Day 10 of the NHBPM challenge is to write an LOL post. I laugh a lot. Sometimes uncontrollably. Sometimes to the point of crying. Sometimes to the displeasure and embarrassment to those around me. I laugh unabashedly. I love to laugh.

Here’s a story about my laughing.

Three coworkers and I were en route to a cooking class in Alexandria, VA from Arlington. As we were walking from work to the Metro, we were all talking and laughing animatedly. I’m lucky in that my coworkers are also people I consider friends, so we all have a great relationship and act in the same way one does with friends.

As we neared the elevator that would take us down to the station, we came upon a fairly large group of people waiting for the same elevator. There were a couple groups of people also talking loudly and laughing with each other while they waited. When the elevator came, everyone piled in. I was facing an older man and one of my coworkers, while my other coworkers were to my side. I’m sure that the groups of people who had been clumped together outside the elevator were standing near each other.

However, the laughter and chatting that was so vibrant just a minute before boarding the elevator came to a complete standstill once inside. The only noise that could be heard was the grinding of the elevator as it started its descent. I started looking around at everyone and noticed the same look on everyone’s face. The averted eyes, neutral expressions. I looked up at the older man in front of me, willing him to look at me, but his eyes remained at a fixed point somewhere above my head.

I started to laugh. First, it started as a giggle but quickly turned into a full on fit of laughter. Here were all of these people, my group included, who had been having a conversation and probably cut it off as soon as they were in the elevator. Here were all of these people trying so hard to avoid eye contact, clearly uncomfortable in an elevator full of strangers. It was hilarious.

What made it even funnier is that absolutely no one said anything. No one started laughing with me. No one did anything. In fact, I probably made everyone a bit more uncomfortable because they thought I was crazy.

When I think back to that elevator ride, and most elevator rides I’ve had since, I can’t help but laugh. I also can’t help but be happy that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t mind making a fool of themselves so they can laugh.

“I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh”

NHBPM- Day Eight

So, I’m a bit behind on my NHBPM posts. Are you surprised? I’m not. Especially with all the excitement going on this month since it’s National Diabetes Awareness month and World Diabetes Day. Doing stuff for that, combined with crazy things happening at work equals no blog posts. But, I’m back.  I also think I started lagging because I didn’t really have anything to say for the past few prompts. So instead of beating myself up over not writing an entry every day, I’m just going to write an entry for the prompts that interest me. Deal? Deal!

Day 8:

“Write a letter to your health”

or

“Write about how you choose to write about others in your blog”

I wrote a letter to diabetes on my diaversary in September, so I’m going to write about how I write about others.

I started this blog as an outlet when I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and diabetes last year. Throughout the year, my blog has focused mostly on my diagnosis and daily life as a 20-something. I’ve talked a lot about my friends, family and boyfriend who gradually became my ex-boyfriend over the course of this past year. I try to speak very honestly about the people I talk about because in a way, this blog is a bit like my journal (with less nitty gritty details though).

While I do strive to speak honestly and in a positive light about those I write about, nobody is perfect. I’ve written about the fights with my mom, tensions with my friends and my heartbreak over breaking up. Those posts might not be the most flattering version of the people I write about, or even of myself, but it’s the truth. Writing is one of the few things I do with my guard down and I always strive to portray the people I write about in a great way but also a real way. I obviously wouldn’t be writing about them if they didn’t matter to me and my life.

So, with all that said, I think so very highly of everyone I write about (unless I don’t) and your support and presence in my life has helped me become who I am today. Thank you!

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

World Diabetes Day 2012

Can I just say that I love the Diabetes Online Community (DOC). World Diabetes Day is on November 14th every year, which is also the day Frederick Banting, one of the discoverers of insulin, was born. It’s a day that is globally recognized to bring awareness and education to the general public about diabetes. To see a community unite the way the diabetes community did yesterday is truly inspiring and incredible.

Last year, I was newly diagnosed when World Diabetes Day rolled around, and to be honest, I can’t remember what I did on that day. This year is completely different. I’ve thrown myself into advocacy and awareness over the past year, blogging, tweeting and talking to everyone. For WDD, there was a 16 hour global Twitter chat with new topics every hour. I participated as much as I possibly could, but was at work so had to jump back and forth.

My major take-away: the DOC is full of inspiring, amazing people and the sense of community is overwhelming. I’m lucky to be a part of that community, even if we would all rather not have the thing that has brought us together.

In addition to the Twitter chat, I also participated in the Diabetes Postcard Exchange. I made two postcards and sent them out (one to Connecticut and one to West Virginia) with some positive words and pretty blue circles.

I also got my whole region (my office and our sister office) to dress in blue for World Diabetes Day. My office has been amazing at dressing in blue for Blue Fridays, but getting both offices involved in the awareness effort on November 14th was an absolutely great feeling. My friends outside of work tell me I work with some great people because they aren’t really supporting diabetes, they are supporting me. I say that they’re wrong because if someone is supporting me, they are supporting diabetes. Like I tell people, diabetes and I go hand in hand. Anyway, it was impressive seeing everyone dressed in blue. What was more impressive was the fact that we were all able to get together for a picture and it took less than five minutes.

Of course, I took a self picture of my blue:

I dressed head to toe in various shades and circles of blue. Definitely my favorite “blue” outfit so far.

My parents also dressed in blue to support me. Of course, they live an hour and a half away and they didn’t snap any pictures, but I love their support as well. It means a lot, especially after our extremely intense, emotionally laced family conversation this past weekend about diabetes (hi Mom and Dad- love you guys!).

Hope everyone had a wonderful World Diabetes Day! I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of Diabetes Awareness Month… and Thanksgiving. This is absolutely the best month of the year!

“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”

NHBPM- Day Five

Today’s post for NHBPM is either: “Health Activist Soapbox” OR “#Listof3 Things that you’re thankful for/excited about/ inspired by”

I spend a lot of my time on this blog and in real life being a health activist and probably get up on my soapbox, usually unintentionally, about once a week if not more. In keeping with the spirit of my upcoming favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, I’m going to write about the latter topic today.

I have a pretty long list of things I’m thankful for/ excited about/ inspired by, so I’ll just pick one for each.

I am thankful for a lot of things in my life. My friends, my family, the opportunities presented to me, the city I live in, the ability to travel. I’ve probably written about all of those things at one point or another even, but for today I’m going to write about how thankful I am for my life. I am thankful that I am alive. I am thankful that I can enjoy life. There was a time last year, right before my correct diagnosis that I was really fearful for my life. It was around the time I was dropping weight, going blind and falling asleep throughout the day. I was scared that I was actually going to die and I very well could have. It’s going through that experience that has made me so thankful for the life I live and the fact that while I do have diabetes, I can manage it because I have the resources to do so. I’m thankful that having diabetes has made me live a healthier lifestyle filled with real food rather than processed junk (a decision I made with my diagnosis) and daily exercise. Diabetes, oddly enough, has made me actually live.

Continuing with this list, I’m currently excited about the upcoming holiday season. Fall is always my favorite time of year because of the changing leaves, cooler weather, leggings, scarves and brisk walks. It’s also my favorite time of year because it seamlessly transitions into Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday. I love spending time with my family and eating delicious food until I’m so full I need a nap to forget about my hurting tummy. I love the homey, comfortable feelings I associate with Thanksgiving. There’s something about Fall and the month of November that make me feel alive and happy to be alive.

Last on the list, I’m inspired by those people who support me and support Diabetes Awareness Month. My co-workers, who all wore blue for me this past Friday, and my family that did the same. It’s inspiring to know that people are so supportive and that they are interested in learning more about diabetes. I’m always inspired when people come together for a common cause, but it’s even more amazing when that common cause is a chronic disease I live with every day.

My co-workers and I in our blue: