…and there are hundreds (thousands?) more than I could possibly represent here. Here’s a sincere tribute to all the incredible people who do this work tirelessly.
I’ve been seeing on my Facebook page a lot of discussion about burn out this month. Not burn out from managing diabetes but from advocating for diabetes.
Many of the remarkable people doing this remarkable work, who use their voice, their money, their time and talent, to raise fellow patients everywhere are burning out – as this month, Diabetes Month, gets into gear. I’m glad to see people actually say it.
It’s the proof that we too are only human. That although we bring our passion, talents and energy to lift others – through peer-mentoring, representing the diabetes community to the FDA for better products and regulations, working for diabetes device and app companies, creating amazing social media sharing sites, giving presentations at conferences, working the exhibition hall, blogging, running summits… we too are only fallible, ordinary people also living with diabetes 24/7 like everyone else. And for many this is a second job. I just want to say hurrah, recognize how outstanding you are and give yourself the same self-care you advocate for others.
There is an irony that we privately share amongst ourselves. When at industry meetings, conferences and events, when with those who should realize blood sugar is within our influence, but not our control, when we’re seated there as patient representatives for our hard won knowledge and experience, if we’re having a low, we are shy to let it be seen.
I’m sure this is deeply psychological. Even when we all know diabetes is fluctuating blood sugars and unpredictability, we feel somehow as role models we have to do this all perfectly.
I just returned from Chicago last night. It was my second trip there in a month. I gave the A1C Champion peer-mentor program I’ve been delivering across the country for the past 10 years. Last night I spoke to 45 people in Glenview, IL. Many were members of a group called the T1D Lounge. A group that fellow advocate and PWD, Merle Gleeson, created and has been running for the past 20 years. She said to me, “Every year I think I’ll stop, but you know, I can’t. For then who will do this?” Most of us like the T-shirt says, “Run on insulin.” I’d venture to say all of us run on what this work gives us – a sense of purpose, of contribution and making a difference.
I love my work as an inspirational speaker and flourishing-with-diabetes workshop facilitator. It energizes me. This work fuels us, we choose it, we make a difference in hundreds, thousands of peoples’ lives. Yet all of us in this space can relate, along with the maps we post on Facebook of our constant travel, to the weariness of too many flights, too many hotels and yet feeling there’s still so much to do.
This month, particularly this month, you, you diabetes warrior, find the time to put your feet up, have your partner, friend, dog, neighbor hand you a cocktail, look around your room, your house, at your family, take a deep breath and know, really know, the world is a better place because you have made it so.
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Thanks for all YOU do, Riva. We’re all in this together and together we are making a difference.