Lemonade Life

Monday, October 17, 2005

Cutting Honesty

(If you haven't been keep up-to-date, read the "Life as a College Student with Diabetes" entry and comments before reading. Otherwise, it might not make sense.)

I just spent the last hour crying in a chair in the Memorial Union.

I feel a mix of emotions- fear that I've let everyone down, anxiety that I'm not good enough to do my job and more worry that people will stop taking my opinions seriously, embarrassment for not doing what I know I should be doing and anger because you haven't seen my life for the past year to understand why the people I spend the most time with seem to know me the least.

A lot of that is a bit cryptic, so I'll elaborate. Just as a disclaimer, I'm not doing this to justify myself or to negate the value of your thoughts and opinions of my actions.

I didn't start hating my diabetes until my 10th anniversary. It was like a bomb went off. I went from being passive to furious in an instant. I rarely if ever complained about my diabetes. It was a part of me, like my hair color, and it didn't seem to matter to anyone that I have it. It just is.

But after my 10th anniversary, things started going downhill. Not necessarily my health, although that suffered from my sheer proximity to the campus coffee shop. For years, my parents and I would go to support group meetings and we would counsel families to not take one reading so seriously. "Do not judge yourself based on a bad reading. Focus on the A1C." But taking my own advice has never been my strong suit. I would stare at my meter with another 317 and let the tears run down my face. I had failed- again.

Freshman year in college, on the whole, was fairly good. I instructed my roommate, Karrie, on how to use the glucagon and I even showed her how my meter and set worked. But she moved out in February, and I never got another roommate. Another girl in my hall had diabetes, and that made me feel a little better- but she had worse control than me and I'm not sure what good she would have down had anything happened. I told some professors and a few friends that I had it. I wasn't shy about it, but it seemed that these people, these college students, viewed diabetes differently than my high school friends. They'd rather just not have anything to do with it.

Sophomore year started off badly and it ended even worse. A lot of it is attributed to personal crap with people in my social circle. It really doesn't deserve to be explained beause of how ridiculous it is. But it did compel me to go to therapy. Therapy is something I should have done for a few years prior because- drum roll- I was a cutter. My weapons of choice were my lancet and cigarettes (I put cigs under the cutting category because as I told my friend Annie - "It's like cutting on the inside"). I could write a book about why and how and when exactly I did all of this, but the point is I did it because I felt I deserved it.

By this point (and we're talking January of sophomore year), I didn't have any friends and I didn't like or trust anyone. I barely talked to people about the weather, let alone my health and how I would spend hours at night pleading and yelling at God to make it go away (just for one day). I only tested when I felt like it, though I did okay with remembering to bolus. By April, my A1C was 9.2. I rarely went to class and I spent so much time by myself that if something did happen, there's an 80% chance I would have been alone when it happened.

I was in therapy until this past August. I'm finished, feeling better and I have no desire at all to hurt myself.

I've had to work very hard to not view my life or my diabetes with the "what did you do wrong?" mentality. It's a very easy mentality to get into and it was detrimental for me, and I'm sure it is very for many other people.

It's also very hard because I've been a diabetes advocate for 4 years. I've had Teen Talk for 3 of those years. And I can't count the number of times I've wanted to quit, run away and hide under my bed because I'm not doing what I'm 'supposed' to do.

I'm very sorry if I was at all misleading about knowing the 'right' way of doing things. I most certainly do not. I have a funny way of thinking, and acting, and I have a feeling a lot of people think I'm a nice, mature, responsible adult. Well, I like to think I'm nice... not so sure about the mature and responsible part.

I am trying. I really am. It's hard. Maybe I will try harder this year. I hope you aren't mad at me, and I hope you aren't disapointed in me. I'm doing the best that I can.

I really do love my life and, most of the time, I really do love my job. I like being able to give you a realistic idea of what it's like to be a college student with diabetes, but more than that, I want to show you who I am. I am not a stereotype and I am not an example. I'm just one out of many. This is my story, this is my life. And God continues to reveal His plan for my life in very odd ways. Which is just the way I like it (most of the time).

Hugs and Loves,


At October 17, 2005 4:56 PM , Anonymous gina said...

Allison, you are an inspiration to all you encounter,just know that you are my hero and I hope you realize how you touch peoples hearts with all that you do...

At October 17, 2005 4:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are very brave to share the intimate details of your life with your readers. Being discouraged and thinking you're not "good" enough are symptoms every young type 1 faces... I know I do! Hang in there and remember, none of us asked for this, we've been given a cross to bear, and obviously God knows were strong enough to bear it. Hang in there and know you're not alone. Love, Kelsey

At October 17, 2005 6:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allison, I continue to admire you, as I have for years. You are sensitive and magnificent. While my tears flow with your anguish and pain, I salute you for expressing the reality. Not only have you shared something so deep, but you've given others the opportunity to openly admit how diabetes destroys their psyches too. You need not live up to anyone's expectations. You are a treasure on earth and I am so very grateful for your honesty. ((((((((((HUGS))))))))))

At October 17, 2005 7:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first step in "recovering" from whatever prevents someone from fully living his/her life is to openly & honestly "share". Doing the very thing you feared the most - i.e. letting others see you weren't "perfect" is a huge step in overcoming those fears that have kept you - and your pain - in "hiding. I have long contended that diabetes takes a toll that isn't openly acknowledged & validated. I hope my own 20-something daughter will read your blog & see that she too is not alone. One of my favorite "mantras" for life has long been "people are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges"..BRAVO on Blogger Bridge-Building!!

At October 17, 2005 7:35 PM , Blogger Kerri. said...

What we do every day is not easy.

A condition that requires this much maintainance is exhausting. It's a constant battle. And much of it is up that proverbial hill. We test. We shoot. We try and monitor our food. Sometimes we say Fuck It and eat as though there were no consequences. We talk as though we have all the answers, even though we fear we have none. We infuse. We bolus. We hope that the mistakes we've made and the courses we've chosen will prove forgivable and sustaining. It's a seemingly endless struggle to keep numbers within the arc of that formidable pendulumn swing.

But know this:

Your strength of character to admit when you're scared and admit when you're wrong ... to be so honest, even when you feel guilt or shame... These moments, Allison, are the ones that make you someone I admire effortlessly. You are neither a stereotype nor an example.

You are just You. And you do a damn fine job of it.

Don't give up. It will be okay.

At October 17, 2005 8:52 PM , Anonymous Meghan said...

I knew when I met you in California this past September that I had met a kindred spirit. We need to talk. About life. Diabetes. Self worth. About how hard it really is to love our selves, with all of our imperfections. I have had this disease way too damn long (long enough that on the anniversary of my diagnosis, I took my diabetes for a beer, legally). I spent 21 long, lonely years, in a closet, hiding in the shadows, afraid of what I was...or worse, what I thought I was - imperfect, unloveable, diseased and destined to be lonely my whole life. In the last few months, I have come to realize that I (we) are loveable and wonderful and imperfect yes, but that is part of our charm. Diabetes is hard, and it can be lonely, but without, we would never have met!
You are amazing, and I know you hear this a lot, but you are my hero. Be who you are, and know that when you get weary and your feet are slipping and you just can't go on, keep your face turned toward God. He promised not to abandon us, and for myself, I have to beleive that.
Love you!

At October 18, 2005 9:56 AM , Blogger Sandra Miller said...

Oh Allison,

What you're doing, every day, is so damn hard. You're not perfect.

Neither is any of us.

There is no anger or disappointment out here in the "O.C." -- and definitely, no reason to feel embarassed, or that your opinions are somehow no longer valid.

Allison, I've given your blog URL to a number of parents of teens with type 1 -- and I will continue to do so. Because you are a strong, intelligent young woman whose voice matters. No, as Kerri said, you're not a stereotype, or an example, but rather, you're Allison-- talented, giving, brave, often funny, and always inspirational.

Please hang in there. And keep writing. Because, feel assured, we will certainly continue reading.

At October 18, 2005 4:34 PM , Blogger mdmpls said...

Allison -

I was diagnosed when I was 12 and found that college was the most difficult time for me and for my diabetes! If it makes you feel any better, I was so out of control my doctors didn't know what to do with me! Please know that it does get better and it will get easier!


At October 21, 2005 10:09 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diabetic or non-diabetic...we all do or have done things that we regret. That's all part of growing and shaping who we are. We hopefully learn from these "bumps" along the way and become more understanding of others. There's no judging here. Perfect people are BORING! Just take care of yourself, be yourself and know that you DO help others.

At October 23, 2005 4:39 PM , Blogger JustLinda said...

I married a diabetic and have a sense of what you deal with. Hang in there... they are getting so much closer and closer. Surely you will benefit from the advances in your lifetime.

I just blogged about a new advancement today in the very-low-dose glucagon therapy that is currently being tested. Come over and read if you want...


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