#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).
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?