Diabetes Online Community: Can You Handle The Truth?

Written by Cynthia Zuber

Do you appreciate hearing about heartache and hardship or would you rather read a diabetes blog and/or diabetes Facebook page where everything comes up roses and happy all the time? The latter is not the true face of diabetes (at least for anyone I know!). I try to be genuine and authentic, sharing some of the struggles I'm presented along with what brings me health, wellness and joy.

I have been working on an article summarizing some of what I have learned in the past year in honor of living another year with Type 1 diabetes. It is not all positive and upbeat, but real and honest, sharing the kinds of things I am wrestling with after 27 years of needles, pokes and jabs of every sort.

This has me concerned about how it will be received. Do people (whether living with diabetes or not) want to hear about the real ways diabetes impacts us or just be inspired and uplifted, keeping arms-length away from the pain, struggles and tears?

I believe true advocacy involves sharing the reality of how diabetes impacts me---not just putting on a strong and happy face and acting like everything is okay. Because it isn't always okay. Although invisible in almost every way, diabetes deeply impacts the way I experience life and almost every decision I make. Many healthcare professionals have stated they think diabetes is the most difficult and challenging chronic disease one can be diagnosed with. After 27 years of living with and being challenged by it, I do not think this is far from the truth.

I have had several people leave my blog's Facebook page recently which never feels good---it is a personal and heartfelt journal of my life. I share many of the things with this community that I share with my closest friends. As someone who does her best to live an authentic life, this is what feels true to me.

Although I share many things that help me live a healthier and more joyful life, I also want my readers, many of whom are friends I've met through this shared journey, to know that I struggle too. I never want anyone to think I have everything figured out or to paint an idealistic rosy picture of my life that leaves others feeling alone in the pain and suffering they may be experiencing. Social Media does a great job of portraying a glamorized yet unrealistic picture of people's lives.

I understand that not everything I share or write about will resonate with all individuals that cross my path---this is okay and even expected. However, it doesn't mean that it does not hurt sometimes when readers leave due to the intimacy of what I share and how much I care about each person in our community.

I try to be positive and inspirational but as a diabetes advocate---a job I take very seriously, I cannot pretend living with diabetes is a joyride and that everything works out great all of the time. Most of us who live with diabetes, parent a child with diabetes or are married to someone with diabetes, etc know the many demands diabetes places on us 24/7. It doesn't let up and there are no vacations.

I am at a crossroads. I want to know how safe or unsafe the landing ground will be for me with the words I write. As I dig deep into my heart and share some of my innermost and personal thoughts, feelings and experiences (not all positive but the real, hard stuff)---will it be accepted? Is it even wanted?

A few other bloggers have asked similar questions in recent months as well. This is an important and timely discussion and I am glad that it is being brought to the table of the diabetes online community (DOC). I am interested in knowing what my readers think as we each have a different audience.

I feel that an accurate picture must be painted as we work hard to fight, advocate and fundraise for a cure. Otherwise, what are we trying to cure? A condition that easily plays fair and by all the rules, never taking the lives of it's victims or causing physical or emotional pain and strain?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you want to hear about the ways I wrestle with diabetes and my health in the overall context of my life? How I struggle sometimes? What causes me heartache, difficulty and pain? Or would you rather come to a place where diabetes fits neatly & happily into a box without any peeps indicating otherwise?

I appreciate honesty and respect if we must part roads now or at any point due to differences in what living with or blogging about diabetes and authentic advocacy looks like. I'll continue doing my best to be a positive person and voice of someone living with Type 1 diabetes (and other chronic health conditions) who meets the challenges I'm presented in the bravest way I know how. But I also cannot ignore the many ways these conditions affect the very core of my being---body, mind and spirit.

If it means losing readers, I feel this is the direction of advocating and blogging I am headed. It is important to me in my search for wholeness, truth, peace and acceptance that I am sharing nothing but my authentic and real self with my audience. Nothing less, nothing more.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and reflections about this matter so close to my heart. And I do appreciate your readership, support and encouragement so much. Thanks for reading.



In Peace & Wellness,

Cynthia

 

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