But they are two different things…

My mind is such a tangled place sometimes.

InsideMyHeadI usually think of myself as a pretty normal guy (don’t we all?). It’s the rest of you that are crazy…

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

I’m trying to really pay some attention to what goes on upstairs. I feel that the past year or so has been just the start of a very interesting, very rewarding, very challenging, very long (life long?) and sometimes very difficult journey of understanding myself.

As many of you know, I’ve acknowledged that I need to change my behavior and habits around my eating. In many ways I feel that this is one of the major reasons my A1C’s are high. If I can reign in my eating habits and choices, my blood sugars will be much better (notice I didn’t say great or perfect), and I’ll see some rewarding A1C results. Hopefully also meaning I won’t see much in terms of major complications or other bad eating caused troubles.

This (eating better) is much harder than you may think. At least for me.

I’m finding that my poor eating habits and choices may be the manifestation of some other deep seeded issues, such as denial and grief.

I was diagnosed at 5 years old. Can’t remember much about it back then, but heck, I can’t remember two days ago either. But my point is that I’ve always just done most of what I had to do – and that being just enough to avoid disaster or any other immediate pain. I’ve just made it through each day, then moving on to the next. Never really taking time to look at or deal with the mental aspect of dealing with a chronic condition.

So here we start to look at things I want to do, and things I need to do.

Two very different things when it comes to changing my eating habits. I know I need to do it. But I don’t want to do it.

This realization hit me a couple weeks ago during an appointment with my therapist. We were talking about things I can do around my eating, specifically planning and packing food to bring from home. I am feeling a ton of resistance to even planning!! My therapist started to do something that many therapists do, and that was to dissect that a bit. What is it about planning and packing food that I don’t like? The time? The energy? What?

I talked about how I can let some really stupid thing throw me off course. For example, if I discovered that we were out of Ziploc baggies, I would just say screw it and quit packing lunch. All the while standing next to a stack of Tupperware taller than the average house dog.

Then a thought hit me – I pack and plan a bunch of crap to play basketball a couple times a week during lunch. We’re talking shorts, t-shirt, 2 pairs of socks, fresh underwear, small towel to wipe sweat during, large towel for showering after, shoes, ankle braces, preparing 32oz of Gatorade (made from the big tub of powder), making sure my pump strap is in there, checking stock of test strips and glucose tablets, and packing it all into my gym bag which I place in an obvious spot to grab on the way out the door the next morning.

Compare that to planning and packing a simple lunch.

Yes. I know.

So I mentioned that to my therapist, and talked about how much I enjoy basketball, and because I enjoy it so much that I don’t even give the planning and preparation a second thought. I just do it.

It came down to the fact that I did not want to change how I eat. I recognize that I need to, but I don’t want to.

Profile of a guy with text that says I accept full responsibilityShe said “that is part of denial”.

It seems so foreign to me, being diabetic for 26+ years, to realize that I may have never really dealt with that side of things. Acceptance & full responsibility for the choices I make on a daily basis.

I posted a while back about talking the talk. I got a lot of very valuable and helpful feedback (as usual!). One in particular really hit me though – it was from “Zazzy” over at Zazen in the Moonlight. In particular the fact that doing things we don’t want to do that are good for us is really hard. It’s not a trivial thing. It really is hard. And to “seek the solution instead of beating yourself up for having the problem”. Very powerful statement. (thank you Zaz!!).

So how do you deal with denial? My therapist suggests certain sections and aspects of the AA “Big Book” – adapting the language and wording to my situation. I’ve also found another book that I’m getting some value from. I’m also very interested in any feedback or information that has helped any of you, or others you know of. Dealing with this, like diabetes, is a very individual thing – and what works well for some may not apply to others. But I think the more information and resources available the better off I’ll be.

As difficult as this journey may be, I have found it, so far, to be intensely rewarding. Scraping off layers of mental avoidance strategies on some life long problem areas. Working my way through the mental diversions and trying to uncover the root causes where possible.

What I want to do vs. what I need to do.

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Scott K. Johnson

Patient voice, speaker, writer, advocate. Living life with diabetes and telling my story. Patient Success Manager, USA for mySugr (All opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the position of my employer).

Diagnosed in April of 1980, I recognize the incredible mental struggle of living with diabetes. Read more…