Everyone with diabetes has already proven one level of their resilience on the day they were diagnosed. You were told that your body has a disease, and it will turn your world upside down, and it will last forever. But you left the hospital and now you’re living with that disease one day at time. You have demonstrated your ability to be resilient.
What does it really mean to be resilient?
Definition: (of a substance or object) able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.
:(of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.
To be resilient while managing a disease like Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes on a daily basis is not an easy task. As a diabetic, you experience a sense of “failure” on a daily or weekly basis every time your blood sugar wanders out of that “normal” and “perfect” range of 80 - 120 mg/dL.
But to demonstrate your ability to be resilient in that situation, I believe, is about much more than just seeing that high or low blood sugar and continuing on with your day.
Resilience, to recover quickly, would imply that it doesn’t harm us in a lasting way. It doesn’t harm our overall spirit and passion to live well and keep trying.
Before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was a life-loving, happy human being. After my diagnosis with diabetes, my spirit was briefly flung for a loop, but I sprung quickly back into my original shape, my original spirit. I demonstrated my ability to be resilient because I did not allow the disease to permanently injure me.
On a daily basis, that life-loving, happy human being is at its original state when my blood sugar is “perfect,” so when I see a 223 mg/dL on the screen of my glucose monitor, this is another opportunity to demonstrate my ability to be resilient. To bounce back.
Bouncing back, I believe, means I can look at that number without it permanently effecting my spirit. I can look at that number and think, “Okay, this means I didn’t get enough insulin earlier.” Whether it was because I miscounted the carbohydrates in my lunch, I underestimated how the caffeine in that half-cup of coffee was going to increase my blood sugar, or I ate about 50 grams of protein in that lunch and I completely forgot to calculate part of it in my carbohydrate total knowing perfectly well than large amounts of protein will be converted to glucose.
Whatever the reason is, I will see that 223 mg/dL on my meter and I will not let it make me feel a certain way, or feel as though I’ve done something wrong. That number is just information. Valuable information. Data. Part of my daily project to manage my blood sugar as well as I can and understand this disease as well as I can.
And what about my resilience to eat well or if I were trying to change my daily nutrition habits? If you are someone who is trying to reduce the sweets or junk food from your life, and one day you “slip” and over do it on french fries and a strawberry milk shake, will you allow that experience to change your spirit, change the way you think about yourself? Or is just a part of who you are, an imperfection, a natural human flaw, and you not view it as a failure. Instead, you’ll see the experience for what it is, and demonstrate your ability to be resilient. To bounce back.
On Saturday you “slipped” from your focus to eat well and avoid junk food, but on Sunday you will spring back into shape and try again. No matter how many times you slip, your aim is to continue to spring back, to continue to be resilient. Eventually, ideally, you will embrace that original shape and it will become harder and harder to fall out of it.
Can resilience be developed? Strengthened? Absolutely. I believe yes. You can practice ability to be resilient the same way you would practice shooting foul-shots on a basketball court, the same way you practice sewing, or painting, or writing. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Practice until you become so exceptional at demonstrating your resilience it happens without trying. You choose to be resilient without having to consciously choose, it becomes your default state of being. Practice.
To be resilient, to experience something painful, difficult, challenging, maybe something that leads you to believe you’ve failed, or screwed up...and then bounce back. Spring back into shape and focus on being your original life-loving, happy human being, good-to-be-alive self. To keep your eyes open wide and try again.