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Clouds, Clearing & Finding a Way to Carry Our Own Lanterns

07/07/2014 10:22

Do you lift weights?  If you have diabetes or another “365” health challenge I would suggest that we do.  We may not be lifting the traditional weights found in gyms.  And I have found that “lifting the weights” of type 1 & other ongoing illnesses have helped me to become a stronger, more resilient, tenacious warrior for everything else that life throws my way.  My heart’s hope is that this is your experience too.  Of course we did not invite any “365” health struggle into our lives yet if it is here, what if we can use it to catapult it somehow into strength for life’s journey.  What if the fight that we need so much of the time to battle type 1 & other health challenges can be used for good in other areas in our lives & the lives of others.  Would that then at least give our battle profound meaning?  We each answer that question for ourselves.  I answer this with a big time, “yes!”

In my little corner of the world the month of May was different I found from previous ones that I can remember.  The season was behind & you may have found this to be the case for you as well in your corner of the world.  The other thing that I have noticed too though is that many of the days throughout the month were on again off again.  What I mean by that is that you could wake up to a sunny day & minutes later huge dark clouds could be rolling in.  Then minutes following that, you may experience a torrential downpour.  Not too much later, the sun would be back out but not for long.  This cycle each day continued.  Planning outdoor activities was like playing a game of weather roulette.  That’s not a huge deal but just something that I observed that is different from other month of May’s in previous years.  The clouds & clearing & cycling like this over & over again got me thinking about how this parallels life with type 1 in my experience.  Aside from the ups & downs that go along literally with high & low blood sugar levels, there is the emotional impact that type 1 can have day to day & even within hour to hour.  Trying to hold the emotional “wheel” steady when blood sugars are either skyrocketing or plummeting downwards takes more than 2 hands at times.  We may be trying our best to get ourselves out of a funk or a potential funk due to the beast of type 1 & how it invisibly beats us up inside.  We may have an arsenal of activities, go to game plans, team of battle buddies, and strategies ready to put in place when we feel like the weight of what we are coping with is becoming so heavy that we could use some reinforcements to help us out at least in the short term.  In weight training, I believe we refer to these types of people perhaps as spotters.  It is like we do not want the weight to crush us if we are literally lifting weights & the same may be true for real life as we battle type 1 or another “365” health struggle.  A “spotter” when it comes to coping with health challenges may be ideal & we may at times have to wait for help with the weights.  What do we consider if we need to wait?

Being weighed down, tired out & in need of encouragement, care, compassion and love while keeping our heads above water is big time tough don’t you find at times?  Some days we have to find a way to carry our own lanterns & keep them lit until someone that we trust & know “get’s it” can reach us.  It is a little like treading water & holding our heads & lanterns above the water at the same time.  What if though we pack a life jacket in advance for ourselves?  Would that make it easier to stay afloat?  Of course it would big time!  My life jacket is going to look different from yours because we are both beautiful originals & we get to kind of design our own life preservers.  One thing that I know from living with type 1 for 6 ½ years though is that I need to pack my own life preserver & lantern daily just in case I need it.  It is a little like an emotional first aid kit.  Just because my background is in counseling, I have the humility to admit that I too can fall prey to emotional funks up to & including depression so I am ever on the watch for those signs.  Beyond that though, I try to have prevention strategies in place for myself.  That is really what the life preserver & lantern “first aid” kit is really all about at least for me.

Would you recognize a person who was beginning to drown?  Would you help them?  The answer to those questions of course is yes.  Have you considered that there is more than one way to drown?  There is the obvious one that involves water yet another variation of this is emotional drowning or depression.  Would you recognize the signs of depression?  If you have even a moment’s hesitation that you would know the signs & point a person in the right direction for help then please visit a website such as:  www.depressionhurts.ca

Can we afford to turn a blind eye to people drowning in any fashion be it either physical or emotional?  My answer is that we must know the signs & symptoms & be ready to lend a hand by connecting people up with the professional help that is ready & waiting.  If we believe that signs & symptoms to any illnesses are important to know so that we can help others, why would depression be any different?  I don’t want to lose anyone to any kind of illness & that means physical or emotional period. 

Here’s the thing that I have found that is a bit of a curve ball when it comes to potential reliance on others.  First of all, I am profoundly independent.  I have had to somewhat behave my way out of that.  I have learned to ask for help at times even though it feels extremely unnatural to me & big time uncomfortable.  I love to help others but had built a lot of one way streets as far as reciprocation goes.  Type 1 has a way of forcing the situation though.  I have experienced times over the last 6 plus years that I have needed to ask for help even if it is as simple as asking someone to put a straw in a juice box when my low blood sugar is making a small task seem monumental.  I have found myself asking for help in the form of patience from others when I am either in a huge high or low blood sugar & need some extra time to get things back into better control.  And I have asked for encouragement on days that really sucked big time with the type 1 beast.

The thing is though that type 1 is largely invisible & emotional drowning is too.  We may look amazing on the outside.  We may look super healthy.  We may have put a smile of determination on our faces as we leave our homes.  We may have dressed up & done up our hair & look well & happy.  It may be super difficult for others to know that we could really use a life preserver in the form of encouragement & care when all looks well on the outside.  It may just take a super perceptive battle buddy or Dear Heart to pick up on what is really going on.  It surely would take a caring & profoundly present person I believe.  Is there much of that in the world?  Is there enough?  If we answer those questions with “no” then have we considered & begun to actively become that exact type of person for others.  That is a start & it just may be the best contagion out there!

Another curve ball that I have found in my own life is that because God made me to be a profoundly sensitive person, I have had to pack a brighter lantern & a few extra life jackets.  For many years, I found that how others treated me or rated me at any given time went straight to my heart with no governor/filter.  What I mean by this is that if others behaved negatively towards me or said something unkind, I accepted it as the truth & I felt sad & unvalued.  On the other hand, if others were complimentary or singing my praises so to speak then I was like an “appreciation junkie” ever doing even more kind deeds in the hopes of keeping those wonderful feelings in good supply.  Both ends of the spectrum were unhealthy for me & exhausting & at times even confusing.  About 10-15 years ago, I made a decision to cut that out.  I came to the realization that I cannot let others have the power to define me one way or the other.  I had to find a way to not let it matter whether I am being perceived one way or the other.  I had to do kind acts with the expectation that they would never be noticed much less appreciated.  I have even come to a point where I don’t care if I am thanked or not anymore & that is a freeing feeling big time!  Also, I realized that I needed to concentrate on doing the next right thing each day & not focus on reactions one way or the other from others.  The neat outcome of that is that if I am having an especially trying day with type 1 & someone “kicks me while I am down” either on purpose or not on purpose, I do not go to a place in my thoughts that says anything like “I deserved that” or some other self deprecating thought.  Instead, I just acknowledge either out loud or silently that the mean spirited behaviour on the part of the other person was uncalled for & disappointing yet reflected more on whatever is going on with them than me.  Perhaps I think at times people can be so wrapped up in their own misery or struggle that they do not have anything at all good, truthful or right to offer us.  In those instances, I choose to love that person from a distance.  This all likely sounds more negative than usual coming from me.  I want to make sure though that I am always 3 dimensional.  Everything is not always coming up roses for anyone.  I have on occasion tried to  reach out for help & had to wait longer than I had hoped.  That’s why I pack the extra “first aid” kit.  One of the things that is in my first aid kit is the fact that all those years ago I let go of the being defined as good or bad by others.  It has been a huge blessing & has strengthened me for the journey.  I don’t rely on people to make me feel good or bad about myself.  For sure my strength is given to me from far outside myself but it most definitely does not come from good or bad statements from others.  It comes instead from love.

This morning as the clouds were again lifting & the sunlight began to peer through, our 3 sons were getting up to face a new day.  One of our sons opened our front door & picked up the local newspaper that had been delivered earlier that morning.  “Look Mom at this cool story” our younger sons yelled out.  They went on to say that the front page had a story in it that gave the great news that a wee boy in the local area had won his battle with cancer.  Our sons were so happy for this boy that they had never even met.  I loved that & I love that big time!  I went ahead & read the article.  In reading it I realized that I vividly remembered that wee boy from 2 years ago when I had heard about his diagnosis.  My heart had been heavy for he & his family.  I smiled big time to read that he had won the battle over the beast of cancer.  That is worth celebrating big time!  That family had surely been through so much turmoil or clouds & sun.  The sunlight wins big time. 

What do I pack the most of in my first aid kit for cloudy or sunny days while battling the type 1 beast?  I pack big time love!  I pack the knowledge that type 1 or anything else does not dull or steal love from my life.  I cherish loved ones all the more through the ups & the downs of type 1 & life.  And I pack the words in action that we “make time for that which truly matters.”  That means that my days don’t go the way I plan them on paper very often.  There are detours throughout most days in the form of making time for giving & receiving love.  That could mean that I need to postpone one task to give time to a Dear Heart that needs their well of love replenished by me being present.  And I have learned to accept that in return too even though it is still really a work in progress.    At the end of each day, the only question that matters to me is whether I can lay my head on my pillow knowing that I unapologetically gave out of my love that day.

My heart’s hope for you is that you have everything you need all packed & ready for the clouds & clearings of your life journey.

Smiles, Saundie :)

May this week be full of light either from the sun or your own lantern.  The last couple of stories have been a wee bit heavy I realize albeit I believe all a part of life.  It is time though I think to lighten things up for next week so next Monday's sharing is "Taking it Lightly."  :D