Last week I wrote about the “art of practicing nothing” aka being present in the present moment. I’m sure there are folks who spend a lifetime mastering this skill, but as a recent neophyte to the practice, this is an almost impossible task to achieve. Even without my to-do lists and email/social media on my phone, I still found myself distracted by the littlest worries.
But nevermind the littlest worries. It’s hard to force myself to enjoy the “present” when I have 24/7 anxiety about my ability to survive in the coming years. And post-traumatic stress from previous failures at surviving. I read about suicides and drug overdoses on the daily, and then I read about another Type 1 diabetic dying from complications of the disease.
My life is on the line every day. I never get a day off from this disease. And sometimes it’s easiest to just ignore it so I can live my life, but then that’s when I’m most at risk. So where’s the balance? Where’s the fine line between safety and insanity? Continue reading
When I was a little girl, I loved car rides. This was before I met Motion Sickness. My family used to take vacations in the summer, and we drove to our destination whether that be the six-hour ride to Smoky Mountains or the 14-hour trek to Disney World.
My dad played Golden Oldie’s from the radio or Disney tunes on cassette. My mom would drive, my dad would film, and my brother and I would be content in the backseat. I was overwhelmed by the imagery. I loved following the different shapes and colors of the trees, watching the yellow lines on the road become one and taking in all the makes and models of other vehicles on the highway.
I could sit for hours in silence, feeling the fresh air and letting the music provide a backdrop for whatever story I dreamed up. I gave those trees a soul, and while I didn’t know who else traveled on the roads with us, I somehow felt connected to them. I used my imagination to give them their own stories. It was where my creative spirit was born.
So why, as an adult, is it so hard for me to sit back and do nothing? Why can’t I just remain still for a moment and relish the world going by? Continue reading
A little more than a week ago I had the AC on and was basking in the midday sun. I felt excited for the day even if my new social energy pushed me to physical exhaustion. Life seemed full of hope again.
Then the work week arrived. And rumors of a new health care bill surfaced — one that would destroy protections for those with pre-existing conditions. I reached out to my representative. I spent a troubling amount of time trolling Twitter and tweeting about advocacy opportunities as well as sharing my own story.
On Thursday morning, a few hours before the bill was put to a vote, I went to the bathroom and cried. I just let it all out — the anxiety of a future that goes back to a time where I had to struggle to access the supplies I needed to live; the emotional devastation of living in a country that does not support my right to live; and the empathy for all those who may die (possibly millions) as a result of this bill. Continue reading
Last weekend, while thousands marched for science in DC, I met up with a longtime friend for the annual Howard County GreenFest. And while watching a documentary on the plight of migratory birds did not aid in my feelings of hopelessness and helplessness (although I highly recommend the film), meeting up with my friend gave me some perspective.
She’s the one who originally encouraged me to write about my struggles with diabetes and insurance coverage. She’s the one who introduced me to my first book producing gig and a mentor who is still having a profound impact on me post-mortem. And when I summed up the indifference I felt towards my current life, she gave me hope.
“It seems like what you need right now is to feel empowered in your daily life,” she said to me over lunch at David’s Natural Market in Columbia.
But when I feel so distraught and useless and anxious about the current political climate, how do I change circumstances outside of my control in order to feel empowered again? Continue reading
About four months ago, I decided to change careers and end a long-term relationship. Those first two months I was on what I like to call a “change high.” I was so overwhelmed and in love with the new wonderful opportunities in my life. I felt so energized and full of life.
But then that third month arrived, and something slowly started changing. I felt exhausted all of the time. I stopped eating and exercising on a regular basis. I slept more and cancelled on social plans. What used to take me 30 minutes to do then took an hour. I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning and constantly found myself running late for my job. My blood sugar levels were harder and harder to control, and I felt sick most of the time. I lost interest in all activities that once brought me joy. My social anxiety returned. A lot of anxiety returned. I overreacted to the littlest things at work and at home. I no longer felt confident in my direction.
I am still emerging from that hole of hopelessness. I cannot explain what exactly pinpointed such a depressive episode. But a few weeks ago, I started reaching out to family, friends and colleagues. I started being honest about how I felt about a lot of things. And rather than be met with scrutiny, I was met with support.
I still have that support. And on truly harrowing days it’s that support that really gets me through. In the meantime, I’m taking the time to explore opportunities and challenges. What is it about my current circumstances that make me feel so value-less and useless? What can I do to change that, regardless of the risks?
I’m not one to feel alive waiting in line for the rollercoaster. I feel alive when I am on the rollercoaster and crossing that first hill and putting my hands in the air. And I’d like to share this journey with you. I don’t have all the answers. But I recognize we are not alone in our struggles and only by connecting can we really, truly feel alive.
I’m planning to post more on this blog over the next month. And to give you a glimpse of the past six weeks, here are a few short episodes. Continue reading
This post is dedicated to Patricia for giving me the courage to find the words to write about a topic that goes so much deeper than just policy.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka Obamacare was passed into law on March 23, 2010. On April 24, 2009, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, an incurable autoimmune disease. I must inject myself with insulin to live. Without insulin, my body goes into shock, something referred to as diabetic ketoacidosis. My organs ultimately fail, and then I die.
I was diagnosed nearly a year before the Affordable Care Act became law. I was preparing to graduate from college and start a career in psychology. I didn’t know much about the health care system in this country or the health insurance I would need to access the supplies that would help me manage this new disease. Fortunately I had started a full-time job and was able to acquire employer-sponsored health insurance.
By the time the ACA was passed, I had decided to change careers and return to school. But leaving that full-time job meant leaving behind my employer-sponsored health insurance. It would be another three years before the ACA was fully implemented. In those three years, I learned firsthand the physical, mental and financial ramifications of not being able to access the treatment I needed to manage my chronic condition.
When the ACA came into full effect on January 1, 2014, it had completely saved my life. Here are five reasons why. Continue reading
Ever since I saw The Little Mermaid as a young girl (it came out when I was two), I was immediately entranced. I dressed as a mermaid that Halloween and belted out “Part of Your World” on the daily.
But as I grew up and became more aware of feminism ideology, I started to feel shame for the love of a movie that seemed to completely go against that ideology. Here is a young princess with the underworld at her fin, and she decides to give up all of that, including her most prized possession—her voice—for a man she barely knows.
Yeah… it’s hard to reconcile that as an adult. But here’s the thing—that’s not what drew me to this film. I didn’t run around the house with an Eric doll pining for the day I could find my own Eric and be led into another world. No, I idealized Ariel for having the guts to leave everything behind to explore something new and find her sense of belonging.
Let me break it down. Here are the real reasons I love Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Continue reading