I have a theory: diabetics can be some of the hardest people to motivate. This weekend, I attended a class through a local hospital called “Diabetes Burnout”. Although I personally don’t feel like I’m burnt out on having diabetes, I can understand how one could get to that point. I was thinking that there would be many young people there but there were only a handful.
One of those young people was a high school girl named Courtney. She’s been a diabetic since she was 11 and is definitely in the burnout phase. She carried a very apathetic, calloused attitude with her which was obvious due to the fact that her very worried mother had dragged her there. Her mother was concerned about her lax attitude that had landed her in the ICU with DKA 3 times in the last few years and an A1C of over 14. Courtney just wasn’t motivated to take care of herself. As I started to talk to her and told her that I was also a diabetic and could relate, her demeanor changed and she started to smile and let down her guard with me. During our conversation, we were able to laugh together and even talk seriously about what her future could look like if she didn’t keep herself in check. I think some of what she saw that day started to sink in. Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Victor Frankl once said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”. Courtney’s mom can’t change her daughter, I can’t change her, and she certainly cannot change the fact that she has diabetes. Somehow she’s got to muster up some motivation to change her attitude and perspective.
The question still remains: why is it so hard to motivate people to take care of themselves? Diabetics are just one demographic, but this applies to everyone. C.S. Lewis hits it spot-on: “We chose a known hell over an unknown heaven.” How often do you try to lose weight and improve your diet but never actually follow through? Or how many times have you struggled through some deep hurts but never sought counseling? It’s so hard to strive for a reward or outcome that is unknown or seemingly impossible to attain and it is scary taking that step alone. What Courtney needs is a fellow sojourner to take this journey with her. I gave her my email address and phone number but all I can do is pray that she reaches out and asks me to take part of the journey with her. She is much like me in a sense that I have a very small diabetic community. It isn’t something that most people understand but I have to let people into it. I found a website recently called tudiabetes.com which is basically a Myspace type forum for diabetics from all over the world. It has opened my eyes up to what other diabetics are enduring, facing and dealing with. I’ve been able to go on there and post my concerns and have people speak into those and relate to me. It has made a world of difference. Having that community is helping me continually realize that I are not alone and that in general, we’re all more a like than we are different.