Welcome, to the work in progress that is my old/new blog space: A Soul is a Resilient Thing.
Things are going to get a little messy. You see, I was here for a time then I left, started another space that ultimately did not serve its intended purpose. And I felt it more authentic to return to my original space. But transition is seldom seamless…
How are YOU doing today?
I’m okay – not great, not terrible. Just chilling in the grey zone as I typically do.
But seriously, how are you?
I genuinely want to know.
Perhaps a re-introduction is order…?
My name is Rebecca, but feel free to call me Reba. Nowadays most people do.
So, please, let’s get cozy with each other. Let’s be pals. Or, in the very least, let’s be comrades in life bespattered with chronic mental/physical illness.
Below is a picture I took during a weekend away in Algonquin Park.
What struck me about this moment was the way the geese were a group and yet clearly independent. I liked that. Especially as someone who cherishes their solitude. But who recently discovered the invaluable nature of comradery and shared experiences.
I have been writing my entire life – next to art it is my passion.
Originally my posts (here) were my musings on life, parenting, and observations of human beings. I eventually opened up about my life with Type 1 Diabetes and my struggles with mental illness. It was those last two that found me break away and start that second blog, dedicating the space to those two ingredients of the recipe that is me.
And while I had a very positive experience blogging there, I continued to feel as if something were missing. However, in an effort to align and centre myself, it appears the by-product was ultimately a lack of focus.
My want has always been to help people. It would appear that happens most successfully when I share my experiences (whether through writing or social media posts), always employing my super skill: unabashed honesty.
Along with my desire to help others has long burned a desire to be more (and more!) involved in the T1D Community.
When I was diagnosed, over twenty years ago, I was on the edge of young adulthood and I spent my early diabetes days with folks much (MUCH) older than myself, and folks with Type 2. None of them were using insulin. All of them irritated by my infinite questions during classes.
To say that my first introduction to the world of diabetes left me confused and bewildered would be an understatement at best.
I contacted various diabetes groups/organizations, locally and nationally. I wanted to be a part of something. I needed a foot in the door, so I shared my super-awesome familial connection to the discovery of insulin: my cousin Sir Frederick Banting (yes, THE Banting!). But those attempts never birthed anything.
My only diabuddy, for many, many years, was my sweet little (non-biological) T2D nana.
I felt both destined and obligated to go it alone. So I did.
When I was 15, and two years prior to my diabetes diagnosis, I received my first mental illness diagnosis: dysthymia. The term is not commonly used anymore, now replaced with Persistent Depressive Disorder or PDD. And it is why, should you know me, I often refer to my emotional state as the grey zone. I linger there, never truly entering the darkness but far from the edge of light.
So my teenage years were brimming with fun. <Enter sarcastic eye roll HERE.>
In my early twenties, while living with my then boyfriend now husband, I suffered a pretty serious mental breakdown. Some of it was brought on by diabetes burnout but it wasn’t the only culprit. There was more to it. Much, much more.
Drugged up and exhausted by multiple therapy sessions with multiple doctors and therapists, I was eventually diagnosed with Body Dysmorphia, Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and suspected OCD.
Quite the gift basket, eh?
When I re-entered the T1D Community in my mid-twenties, and shortly after recovering from the breakdown, there was some turbulence. That’s incorrect: there was enough of a disturbance that I ran fast and far away from all things T1D for another decade.
My honesty is not always welcomed. And, in that particular case it was really poorly received.
I had found and joined an online forum. My visits infrequent because it appeared to be full of anger and negativity. In an effort to lighten that space, I posted sharing all the things I, as a T1D, found positive about my diagnosis, things I was thankful for – the backlash from that post was alarming.
People attacked me with their keyboards from behind their monitors. Their comments hurtful, hateful even, and I was left feeling alone once again.
And, trust me, I get it. Diabetes can fucking suck the bag sometimes. But that’s the key word: sometimes. It doesn’t always suck. And it can show us positive things about our strength, endurance, resiliency. I’ve been at the T1D game a long time. I’ve been to hell and back, and I still think the list of positives is longer than that of the negative.
I dipped my toe in the online waters about a decade later. And had a much more positive experience. I even made my first-ever T1 Diabuddy. A meeting, and friendship, that has been a catalyst for so many things. Like this gal (me!) registering to attend an adult camp for T1Ds.
Slipstream 2018 was a massive step (leaps and bounds really) outside my comfort zone. I was enticed by the prospect of meeting others like me. But my excitement was nearly overshadowed by the mental hurdles that instantly set up in my path. My anxiety nearly stopped me from attending.
But I did. And the experience was as overwhelming as it was wonderfully life-changing. That weekend is what I consider my real introduction to all things diabetes.
The Diabetes Domain
I had no idea how many shops, IG accounts, blogs, online newsletters, YouTube channels, groups, etc. there were out there in the DIA-sphere. And, while it was fantastically eye-opening, I could not help but be disappointed (bitter might be a better word) on all that I had been missing out on for nearly two whole fucking decades.
On top of that borderline (fine, all out) bitterness was that lingering feeling that I was still out of place. As I clicked through the various groups and sites, familiarizing myself with the advocates and faces of T1D, I noticed some things…
- most of the top influencers were (at least) a decade younger than me, and most of them were society’s perception of perfection (white/young/thin);
- many of the sites were heavily focused on diet/exercise or fashion or selling products/paraphernalia;
And that just didn’t do it for me. The people, sites and groups I came across were very difficult for me to relate to, beyond our shared T1D diagnosis. They still are…
I feel the need to say this: all of those people, all of those sites, and all of those groups are important. We all have our gifts to share. And those folks advocate in their own way. I happily and wholeheartedly support a number of fellow T1Ds who have platforms and approaches very different from my own.
I want and deserve a place I feel represents me, people I can relate to; a place for a person with diabetes who may be a little longer in the tooth or one who struggles with mental illness (or health), who may not be society’s version of perfect or even normal. I deserve a space that honestly portrays life (all the fucking gritty bits) with diabetes and all that entails, parenthood, relationships…*all*of*it*
And that is how we have ended up here (again).
I refuse to believe that I am the only one who wants that. I refuse to believe that I am the only diabetes misfit.
I refuse to accept that I am alone.
So, believe me when I say, I am genuinely curious to know how you are today.
I hope that, in the very least, you are feeling less alone.