When's the last time you had a good tantrum? You know. A knock-down, drag-out hissy fit. Something that could give the most petulant two-year-old a run for his money.
"Never. I'm an adult. We don't throw tantrums."
Ok. Maybe it's not socially acceptable to throw yourself dramatically to the floor and kick and cry and scream that LIFE'S NOT FAIR. But when's the last time you got so mad that you wished you could embrace your inner toddler and just scream at the world?
For me, it's happened a few times over the past week. For some reason, I'm having a hard time regulating my blood sugar, causing some severe lows that interfere with normal life. And it makes me so mad!! It's just not fair that I have this stupid disease and I can be doing everything right and things can go so sideways.
Or I decide that I want to live like everyone else for a day and the resulting blood sugars numbers are terrible. I'm reminded that I don't get to live like everyone else because I've been blessed with Type 2 Diabetes and I never get a day off and sometimes it totally sucks. My inner toddler takes over and, were it socially acceptable, I might fling myself to the ground and cry at my misfortune.
Here's the deal. Diabetes sucks. People who don't live with Diabetes don't get it. They can't. Just like I don't get what it's like to live with a different chronic disease or difficult life situation. Everyone has something in their life that they occasionally become petulant about.
So how do I deal with the inner toddler? I deal with her like I would a child having a tantrum. I give her space to cry it out a bit. She needs a chance to scream that this is hard and that she doesn't want to do it any more. But I don't leave it there.
I validate the pain to myself. Living with a chronic disease sucks. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something. It ISN'T fair that I have Diabetes and people who live pretty identical lifestyles to mine look down on me for allowing myself to get this "lifestyle" disease. Once again, this isn't the end of the process though.
Like I would with the sad toddler who has worn herself out with crying, I pick myself up, acknowledge the pain and ask what I'm going to do about it. When the crying has stopped, we can start to be rational and look for solutions. What solutions? At the end of the day, I still have Diabetes and I still have to deal with all the disadvantages that come along with this shitty diagnosis.
I try to look at what has brought me to the point of this particular tantrum. Is it the extraordinary amount of time I dedicate to keeping myself healthy? Is it that I don't get to eat all the foods that I want, whenever I want? Is it that I decided to not pay attention to my disease for a bit and made my Diabetes worse for a period of time? Is it one of the myriad of other things that make living with Diabetes inconvenient on a daily basis?
When I've figured out the cause of the meltdown, I try to figure out if I could have done anything differently to avoid the bad outcome. Sometimes a minor adjustment is enough to avoid a similar outcome in the future. More often, it's just part of the disease. What then?
Back to caring for the inner child, who probably just needs some reassurance before she can move along with the day. I try to reassure her that it's ok to be mad at things that are unfair.
I've got skills to pick myself up and move along. Misfortune happens to everyone eventually. Diabetes happens to be mine. I can choose to live in a place of anger and sadness all the time, or I can choose to acknowledge the pain and keep going.
Note that I didn't say that inner tantrums are inappropriate. A diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes totally sucks. Pretending life is roses and puppies doesn't serve you, and contributes to stress that can make your disease even worse.
So, have the tantrum. Cry it out. Scream into a pillow. Then pick yourself up and get back to the work of living.