September 13th to 19th is Invisible Illness Awareness Week.
The purpose of this is to bring awareness to those who are inwardly suffering from a chronic illness, any chronic illness that isn't visible to strangers.
I have never felt the need to hide my disease. Lucky for me I got diagnosed right after I graduated college which I've learned is a difficult time to manage it. I often dive down my top in public to pull my insulin pump from my bra without shame. Before the insulin pump I did my injections anywhere and everywhere. I don't remember getting too many looks but I never cared, so I never looked around to see if anyone was even watching. I remember once injecting myself with lantus on a boat in Laos back before the lantus pens when it was a syringe and a vial. Did I care? not at all.
I've had diabetes for over 8 years and I've never met another type 1 face to face (that I know of). Nobody has ever asked me anything in public. I've never had the conversation with strangers who ask if I have the "bad kind" or say things like "you can't eat that." I'm not sure how I've avoided these uncomfortable situations for so long and I think it's only a matter of time. I think I've had it really good. My family and friends never stick their nose in my D-business other than to educate themselves and ask questions (which I love). I have gotten the "sad eyes" on more occasions than I can shake a stick at but I expect that. It IS sad, diabetes. It IS worthy of a bit of pity from those people without it. If someone told me they had type 1, I might cry on their behalf. Why? because I feel sorry for anyone who has to go through this.
Nobody knows how much we struggle. Nobody can ever sympathize with the courage and strength necessary to live day by day with this. Nobody can empathize with the weight and burden of every moment of every day of this fight we struggle with. It's not something you can SEE. Occasionally I find myself educating about it and I can see the face turn from interested to "okay I've heard enough". Y'know the part that upsets me the most? When that person walks away, they stop thinking about it and get on with their day. We never walk away and stop thinking about it. Once you go away, we are still here, struggling with our lives every single second. Sometimes I'm out with friends or family and maybe they have the unfortunate experience of watching me suffer a low. That's one crash out of hundreds. I go through that on an almost daily basis and you've only just had a glimpse, a snap shot of a moment of my entire life. It's still there when you leave, it's still there when you carry on about your day. It's still there at 4am when I'm rudely awaken in a shaky sweaty mess and you're tucked away sound asleep. It's still there when you aren't.
I promise tomorrow I will write something encouraging about this invisible illness. Today, however I can't help the words that came out. They are not meant in search of pity or sorrow. I'm just expressing myself.