Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Words Matter - Let's stop saying "Lifestyle"

I recently read an article by Paul Lincoln of the UK Public Health Network.

He argues that "I believe the term lifestyle or lifestyle factors should be completely abandoned by public health professionals/"  Why does he believe that?  Well there is a very good reason.  As Mr Lincoln notes, this term, “Lifestyle,” is a loaded term that reinforces stereotypes about individuals and a world view that people are majorly or entirely responsible for their own health. 

Mr. Lincoln suggests that the term "deathstyle" would probably be better because that clearly communicates that people are consciously making a choice to be unhealthy and die.  I also believe this "lifestyle" language in the public health debate is very harmful.  It places all the blame on the patient despite the clear evidence that patients do not actively choose to have diabetes or die early.  Sure, there are factors which affect things, if you don't eat right and don't exercise, that can be a factor in the emergence of diabetes in many of us.  But it isn't the only factor, genetics is certainly very important and probably more important.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My Own Personal Diabetes Burnout

This prompt is really a personal thing for me at this point.  At this point I really feel pulled between competing objectives and the idea that I can't meet my goals.  And it leaves me feeling like a failure.  For quite some time I've been very active in the on-line forums.  I've been an administrator for the community at TuDiabetes.  But in the last year I've worked very hard to be an advocate and to blog.  But all of these things over the last year have left me feeling like I've bitten off more than I can chew.  Life isn't just about my blood sugar control or my diabetes advocacy, it is about my day job and about my support of my family and friends.  And make no mistake, having a day job that asks you to spend 12 hours a day or family that is in crisis, this stuff can be very difficult to deal with even if you don't have diabetes.  Frankly, I just want to sleep in.  I just want a break.  It isn't about by just blood sugar control, it is about my emotional energy to fulfill what I believe to be what I have promised to myself and others.

So here are my my rules:

1. Forgive yourself for not being a model.  I am a person.  I am flawed.  I sorry, but that is who I am.  I can't always talk about stuff that I deal with but I still deal with it.  Sometimes I just can't write about it and I just can't share it.  But I have to deal with it.

2. I feel like I have to balance my life and the balance means I cannot spend as much energy and time as I would like to the DOC.  I have a full-time job.  Sometimes I am just plain unavailable or I just am so busy I can't post anything. I am regularly faced with a compromise about how I spend my time in the DOC and my "real job." I can't just give up my real job.  It breaks my heart but it is a reality.

3. And while we deal with balance we have to talk about family.  It isn't just my job, but my family that is a priority.  I have a priority for my children but also my extended family.  I wish it wasn't necessary that my extended family call on me to help, but they do and I feel like I have an obligation. I am truly sorry that at times I put my extended family at times ahead of my DOC family, but I hope you understand.

4. My voice is my own and I should not let it be distorted.  I worry that my writings and posts will be employed by others in ways that are not consistent with my views.  I have to learn to accept that what I have written stands on it's own and may result in things I never anticipated or wanted.

5. I have to accept that my views and writings are sometimes controversial and are subject to criticism and I may even write something that is wrong.  I write things that will totally irritate people.  I want people to think.  But they may disagree and they may call me all sorts of names and criticize me, my intelligence and my heritage.  I have to accept these attacks and not take it personally.  I ask to have the grace to accept criticism gracefully and to accept comments objectively and be willing to change my opinions based on new opinions.

6.  I also want to share an important rule.  Everyone's experience is different, you may not see the same experience as me but your experience is real.  If you find the anchovy diet works for you, that is great.  Everyone is different.  My experience that works for me is great, but your experience that works for you is just as celebratory.  Learning to be non-judgmental and respect others success and decisions is really, really important.

7. And finally, I would like to note that emotional burnout comes from our failure to be able to handle the continued stress related to having diabetes and communicating to the DOC.  We will always have diabetes, but I hope that we always consider that we have firm rule that we take care of ourselves before we worry about writing some blog for the DOC.  We absolutely must place our own personal health and happiness as a priority.

I struggle with these rules as a way to enable me to continue to be out there in the DOC.  But I also realize there everyone else struggles with the same things.