#DBlogWeek ’14 – Day 3 – The mental toll of dBlogging

Diabetes really doesn’t affect me emotionally all that much – I’m just lucky that way. Sure, it does harbor occasional rousings of resentment, elements of embarrassment, and feelings of frustration (it may also be responsible for my overall timidness and reluctance to take chances in life – a connection I just realized this past weekend), but none of that qualifies me to really discuss the power of emotions that a faulty pancreas can deliver, and I don’t want to seem to trivialize the issue – which is a very real one. So I won’t even try.

But that’s not to say there isn’t stress in putting myself out in public, on the internet, for the world to see (or read). 

* * *

I first learned that about a year and a quarter ago when I hesitantly published this unpopular post questioning the use of our country’s scarce resources towards diabetes care when, in all honesty, there are larger problems that affect far more people. I had worried that people might be offended or insulted by it, so I edited and re-edited it to make it more about my thoughts and to make it not seem directed at others. It didn’t work, as the feedback I got, from people who I highly respect and who are far more knowledgeable about the topic than I am, wasn’t particularly favorable. In fact, it lingered in my mind for a very long time. I had a hard time sleeping for the entire month that followed and my headaches wouldn’t subside. In my mind, I had deliberated deleting the post, writing up a follow-up, apologizing profusely, pretending like it never happened, or just shutting down the blog and disappearing, leaving the DOC altogether. I was heavily leaning toward that last option.

As the feelings of stress, regret, and conflict started to fade, the post appeared in the monthly round-up on DiabetesMine. As soon as I saw it, I asked that the embarrassing post be removed. A few private emails back and forth, and I started to feel a little better about myself and a little less ashamed at what I had done. Although the things that cheer us up are supposed to be tomorrow’s DBlogWeek topic, I do need to thank Mike for talking me down from that ledge.  He really is a saint.

* * *

This little blog is a little secret of mine.  Nobody in my “real world life” knows about it — not even (especially!) my family — and I’m more comfortable about it that way. Though my picture is on this blog and next to every post I write (and that same picture is used elsewhere on the ‘net), there is still a feeling of anonymity when I’m in this community. It’s like living a split-personality type of life; I discuss diabetes with people who understand diabetes, and I discuss other things with my everyday acquaintances. The longer it goes on, the harder it seems to come out of the closet, so to speak, to my real-life friends. It’s like I’m not just guilty of an error in judgment, but I’ve been living a lie for a couple of years – and it’s hard to continue that way. Especially when I was invited to the Diabetes Advocates Forum, it was tough to explain the reasons for my invitation to others (heck, it was tough to understand it myself!)

When See Jen Dance posted a really big announcement in March, it was a really big relief to me. REALLY BIG. Because her last sentence, “And if you know me in real life – please continue to keep quiet,” convinced me something that dBlogs have tried to convince others all along…. that I’m not the only one.

* * *

And about that Medtronic thing. They invited me to California. They provided some good food, good company, good lessons, and good experiences. OK, better than good. Then they offered me a trial of the 530G and Enlite system (disclosure here).

No strings attached. No editorial oversight or guidance whatsoever. I was free to say what I want, when I want, and to whom I want (within some legal guidelines).

Those PR folks at Medtronic – Amanda, Naomi, Karrie, and Sara – are really wonderful people. Not only are they friendly, but they are excellent at what they do.  Even before the invitation came my way and before I met them in person, I was really impressed at how well they utilize social media to keep their current and potential Minimed pumpers interested and engaged, and how they are proactive in offering assistance when it seems needed. It’s not just lip-service when I say they are the absolute best-in-class.

I consider these people friends, and I hope to become friendly with more folks in the industry. There’s a lot for me to learn by getting an “insider’s view”, and there’s also an ability to influence future efforts and priorities within the industry. But it’s the friendship with people who have similar interests that means the most.

Despite the last bullet item in this blog post on Diabetes 24-7, my opinions are not for sale. I won’t exchange gifts for promotions (in fact, I recently declined someone who offered just that), though I will praise products and services that, in my heart, I believe are worthy, as I did with ShugaTrak.

Still, it’s tough to criticize friends and the products which they represent. I see how popular my post on the t:slim was – a (p)review of a pump that, at the time I’d never seen and hadn’t been released yet, and I learned how powerful one dopey blogger’s influence can be. I’m here to help and inform, and it’s hard to stomach the thought a company suffering because of my ramblings or reactions. I also can’t let myself get a friend in trouble at work because they took a chance on letting me try out their flagship product. I’ve learned a lot about the responsibility and power that comes with blogging, and like diabetes – it’s a delicate balance.

Anyhow, let’s just say my feelings toward the 530G/Enlite package have been a little rocky as of late. I’ll probably write some more after this week is over, but I should probably go through the proper channels and give them a chance to resolve the issues before telling the world.

Yet I strive to maintain honesty and transparency. Therein lies another internal conflict.

* * *

The point I’m trying to make is this: diabetes blogging can cause lots of stress, and sometimes it makes me want to quit.

But it also has some tremendous benefits (the social ones, not monetary ones), and I often have to remind myself where I’d be without the DOC. And that’s what keeps me going.


Today’s topic: May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope?

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Posted on May 14, 2014, in D-blog week 2014, Diabetes, DOC, Personal and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Be careful! I used to think no one from real life read mine. And then…

    I did go through and delete a bunch of bitchy things.

    I want to read your post about scarce resources/diabetes. I think I would agree with it.

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  2. There is only one person at my job who knows I write a blog. As I go to more conferences and do other diabetes-related things, it becomes increasingly difficult to explain why. But in a strange way, I enjoy being able to control that narrative. I can always let everyone know. But once I do, I can’t let them un-know. Same thing goes for criticism… it’s hard to un-criticize. But since this is our space and we own it, we should be free to say whatever we want, in whatever way we want to say it.

    And even though it’s hard to remember sometimes, there is (usually) always tomorrow to say something new. I like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can 100% relate to this. My blog is also a “secret” – only a few of my closest friends in real life know about it. Like Stephen has said in his comment above, I know I can tell people as and when I want to. It’s knowing that once they know it’s there, that’s it. It’s “out there”. As always, a great blog post!

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  4. I wrote a post about blogging for today’s topic, too. No one really knows about my blog, either. People in my “real life” do know that I’m involved in diabetes social media and blogging sites, and I’ve told them I have “a diabetes blog” but haven’t been any more specific than that. I suppose they could look for it and, if they found it, it would be immediately obvious that it was mine. I don’t think I’ve written anything in there that I would be embarrassed for them to read, although I’d certainly be very self-conscious and would prefer they never find it! :)

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  5. This is such an incredibly important post, with every aspect of it touching on something separate that’s worth taking note of. I have found myself in that same position of feeling conflicted a number of times, especially early on. There was one post when I wrote something that I thought was a creative and lighter spin on a typically serious and not-so-fun topic, and ended up offending some who thought I was making light of an even more serious and not-to-be-made-fun of issue. And then there was a post where I lashed out in anger, and soon regretted my behavior to the point of subsequently apologizing in another post. What I’ve learned is that you an never appease everyone and opinions may vary, and even more controversial and unpopular posts need to be written because it’s important to share those views. That’s how I felt about the one you mentioned up above first… that it’s your opinion and right to share it, and it’s an important discussion point we all need to keep in mind when thinking of that particular topic. Others may disagree, but that certainly doesn’t mean you’re wrong in feeling how you do. I value your voice and your opinions, whether I agree with them or not. And that’s a valuable perspective to have in this community. OK… it’s getting novel-long here… So let’s stop this comment here. And continue on…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I first decided to take the leap from reading and commenting on blogs to doing the “diabetes blogging thing” more often personally, I was a few years into a newspaper job that I loved. I really hadn’t been sharing much of my D on my sleeve, until that time. And then, it started becoming more of a focus. And yes, it got much more difficult to maintain that line. But I did, never crossing that line between my legal newspaper writing and my personal D-stuff. I never really hid my diabetes, but just didn’t wear it on my sleeve. And once I started blogging and putting it out there more on social media, people from my school days reached out surprised to hear about my longtime D-Life. It really can be tough and emotionally challenging, and I do think that focusing so much on it all the time can really make it more mentally draining than those earlier days when it wasn’t that big of a deal. Still, I can’t imagine now not sharing it and feel strange remembering how it was even 9 years ago before finding the DOC. A balance I think everyone has to weigh for themselves personally and professionally.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mike, for your comments. You just about covered everything and I really have nothing to add, but I do need to express my appreciation not only for what you said here, but what you told me in January. This whole “diabetes transparency” thing isn’t as easy as it looks (for some of us anyway), and it’s comforting to know what someone else out there “gets it”.

      Like

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