Where did these bags come from? Is that another grey hair? I feel like I haven’t slept in ages. Is this how my life is going to be from here on out? Have any of you parents had thoughts like these after your child was diagnosed with Type 1? For me I can say that these are daily thoughts and questions I ask myself. Except now, I know the answers. The bags come from the lack of sleep. Grey hair comes from the stress. Feeling like a mombie (ya know, like a zombie but a mom), again, comes from the lack of sleep. And if I really want to be honest and put myself out there, I’ll go ahead and admit to the 15 pound weight gain! Yeah that’s right. 15 pounds in 6 months! The stress and lack of sleep that takes a toll on your body is like nothing I’ve ever felt before. The degree of tiredness is like a Jenn world record! I've hit an all time new level of tired! Our minds are constantly on our children, consumed with carb counting, insulin dosages, blood sugar numbers. We awake throughout the night to see if they are still safe in their sleep as to not go low enough to cause a seizure or even death. If it’s low, we feed them juice or something sweet to bring their levels up and then wait until it raises enough where we feel comfortable going back to sleep ourself..Only to be woken by an alerting alarm right when you start to doze off that says your child is dropping fast. Fight or flight kicks in and you rush to treat. It makes me think of shampoo directions: Lather, Rinse, Repeat. It’s a continuous cycle that never ends. So what can we do to stave off burnout? How can we recharge?
Therapy. When my son was first diagnosed I was a complete mess. I went into a depression and felt like I was never going to get out of it. My husband and family became so concerned that they insisted, no demanded, that I get help. So I started seeing a therapist to get me back on track. I had so much that I needed to just vent and let out. I cried. And cried. And then cried some more. I felt like a failure because my son needed me to be strong for him but I felt weak. I double and triple checked my doses for insulin shots and then second guessed myself after it was administered even though I did it perfectly. My therapist helped me realize that my hyper vigilance was actually a good thing as far as my attention to detail and making sure that everything was done just right. I was actually taking great care of him! It was just the feelings I had that needed to be sorted out. As time went on I became more comfortable with my new role and the over anxiousness subsided. When his blood sugar dropped now, instead of panicking, I would go into "Nurse Mode” and do what I needed to do. It takes time. Oh and for me, apparently therapy.
Sleep. To function at our best we need an adequate amount of sleep! I actually just read an article that said when you chronically don’t get enough sleep your brain starts eating itself! Seriously? One more thing to worry about! My brain is probably half eaten by now! This is an area I need to work on. When I do get enough sleep it’s because my husband and I take turns being responsible for night time care. Also my parents, GOD BLESS THEM!!!, live close by and will take the kids overnight when I feel like there isn’t enough coffee in the world to keep me alert! Funny thing is, I don’t even drink caffeine but I put that in there for relatability as I know lots of moms need their fix to make it through the day . I just suffer in tiredness lol. Unfortunately, being tired just kind of comes with the territory. But ask for help if you can. And if you're reading this and you are friends with someone who has a type one child or you are a relative, try to offer help when you can. We may seem like we have it all together, and we might, but we’re incredibly bone tired.
Friendship. Another area that suffers is the friendships you had before diagnosis. Many people won’t understand why you are constantly checking on your child and will think you are overreacting. It's hard to find time to go out if you don’t have someone to babysit your child who knows how to care for them. It becomes difficult to relate to people who are complaining about being tired because they stayed out late last night at a concert when we were up fighting lows. I’ve found myself annoyed listening to someones trivial problem when we know what we are dealing with is so much worse, But ..I’ve come to realize a few things. We were just like them before diagnosis and had normal people problems too! Everyone’s ‘tired’ and problems, are relative to them. We’re the ones who have had a major life change which has shifted our views and honestly, the very person we are. We still need our friends though! Theres’s a couple of things that have happened to me in this area. First, my real TRUE friends have tried to learn about what I’m going through and they support me. Others have kind of fallen off the radar and it’s sad, but it just is what it is. Second, I’ve gained a whole new set of friends!! Do you know what happens when you find people and families that are going through the same thing you are? Insta-friends! They get you! It’s truly an amazing feeling. I’ve found support groups online that are phenomenal. One in particular that I treasure is called ‘T1D Mod Squad’ (type 1 diabetes, Mother of Diabetic). I feel like family there. I can ask a question at any time of the night and get a response within seconds from literally 50-100 moms who want to help because they are up too! I wish it was something else that we had in common like reading or hiking but no, diabetes it is! There's a phrase that relates to this perfectly, “Find your tribe, Love them hard.” It really is like this. A huge part of my support comes from here.
Lastly, for me one of the most therapeutic things I’ve done is starting this company Greater Than with my husband and good friend. It is my outlet. I needed to feel like we weren’t just victims to this disease. I wanted to fight. To feel powerful instead of powerless. Being able to reach other people through our company and social media accounts has been such a blessing. The heartfelt letters and posts show me that I’m making a difference and I can’t really put into words what that does for me. I just know I have to keep going. Can’t stop, won’t stop!
Support comes in many many forms so I urge anyone reading this that is going through a similar situation, do what you gotta do! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Take time for yourself and maintain healthy friendships. Connect with other families and and parents that are going through the same situation. I can’t stress that one enough. Get your sleep. Stay healthy. Find your outlet! Always strive to be GREATER THAN you were yesterday.