The fear is real

My whole life I’ve been dealing with fear. When I got into yoga and especially Ayurveda I found out that fear is a constitutional characteristic of vata dosha, the combination of the air and space elements. Having vata in my constitution has inspired my creative pursuits and enabled me to be adaptable and free spirited. It’s also been one of my biggest challenges. With the tendency to get carried away with thoughts and anxieties I’ve found it hard to land and ground. Little things can trigger the deep seated traumas.

Like anyone caught in a shocking situation, one does the best to cope. My coping mechanism for past traumas was to numb out, quash the grief and keep going. Keeping on keeping on has served me well for the most part. It has driven me to teach, share and now write. But just because I look like I’m happy and settled doesn’t mean I have been able to go beyond my fear.  Like I said, when I least expect it it creeps up on me.

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Last night and most nights when the lights go out and I’m nearly asleep I have this terrifying moment. I think I’ve forgotten my evening shot. Before I can catch myself and calmly go through my evening routine, my heart is leaping out of my chest. In that moment the fear is real. A few moments later I realise I’m being irrational and I start to relax. This kind of automatic response bugs me. I should have it all together.

But that’s crazy. They say that someone living with diabetes makes about 182 decisions per day. What to eat, how much to eat, how much insulin to take, how much insulin to correct, how many carbs to treat when low, how much and how long to exercise. What to carry just in case. OMG and that’s just a small glimpse. I think fear is natural amidst a pile of unpredictable factors. Besides my diabetes decisions, I have to keep my life going like everyone else. Bills to pay, work to do. You get the gist.

What I have learnt about fear is that it’s one of the supportive mechanisms of the nervous system. Fear gives us the capacity to move away from danger. It’s protective. I know a lot of people have used this anachronism of F.E.A.R, false-evidence- appearing- real.

Can we stop right there.  Yes we can overreact to our thoughts and yes we can project onto a situation, and yes it’s good to overcome our fears.

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HOWEVER…

As someone living with diabetes my fears are not a false projection. My life is in danger if I don’t get my medication dosage right. I can suffer from a host of complications, without the appropriate technology  to measure my levels I could go into a coma and if I don’t have access to medication, I die. These are real and tangible things that would make anyone afraid. Terrified actually.

So whats the solution? Quash the fear? Push onward and upward?

The simple answer is acknowledgement. When I acknowledge the reality that diabetes sucks and its not easy to manage. I feel more capable. When that bolt hits me at bedtime and I’m in its grip I remind myself, I am here and alive.

“Sometimes the best coaching advice you can get is simple acknowledgement that there’s nothing else you could have done.” Hannah Kearney- American Athlete

See you tomorrow #NDAM #DiabetesAwarenessMonth

with great respect….

rachel

Just drop it

Writing every day about diabetes for diabetes awareness month is giving me the opportunity to share my innermost thoughts and feelings about diabetes. Hopefully it also sheds some insight into the inner world of anyone dealing with a chronic illness. Whatever crisis or challenge we face, it’s the ability to overcome, that transforms into a shared wisdom. I know for myself when I’m feeling at a loss as to how to deal with an aspect of diabetes management, finding out how someone else approached that same issue helps me enormously.

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I’m someone who likes to get it ‘right’. What I am learning ( slowly but surely) is that right is just a word I have been conditioned to believe in. There is no right way to do diabetes or anything for that matter. There is only what works for each individual.

Today I had an injection blunder. I put the needle for my long acting insulin in and it bounced straight back out squirting blood and insulin everywhere. When something like this happens it’s totally different to say dropping a pill on the floor. If I fumble and drop a pill, I just brush it off and swallow it. An insulin mishap however is totally different. I can’t determine how much insulin actually went in, so if I take another injection it could mean a hypo at some point in the future. All future bolus (fast acting insulin) calculations need to be taken into account. I’m hopeless at math so that’s a big issue right there. My motto for this one is better safe than sorry. So no extra insulin for me today which means possible higher levels all day. Total bummer!

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Stepping on my mat for practice it dawned on me that in spite of my earlier mishap, I make up the rules. I can’t change what happened, but I can change my reaction. A story from my teacher in India comes to mind. “When you hold something in your hand,” and he demonstrated the example by holding a red hibiscus in his hand, “holding it takes effort. But how much effort does it take to let it go? Dropping the flower is effortless.” He demonstrated this by letting go of the flower. As it effortlessly fell to the ground he added, “This is just like us. We hang on tight to our ideas, beliefs and ideologies until we are shown how easy it is to let go.”

Exactly my plan for today!  Just drop it.

See you tomorrow for #NDAM #DiabetesAwarenessMonth

with great respect…

rachel

Who am I without my diabetes?

What’s the single most powerful tool from yoga that’s helped me manage my diabetes? Atma Vidya. Atma Vidya is Self-Knowledge. Atma means Self and Vidya means knowledge. What do you think of when you hear these two words put together? Before I was led through these beautiful teachings I thought SELF meant me, my name, my ideas, my beliefs, my broken pancreas. KNOWLEDGE referred to knowing this, getting this.

I was mistaken.

It’s easy to know what I have. I have a name, a job, a relationship. I have thoughts, ideas and beliefs. I have a condition called diabetes. It’s obvious that I know about things that I have. The deeper question is who does the name, job, relationship, idea, disease belong to? Who is that?

I travelled to India and to the heart of the tradition to find out. The tradition I studied with is thousands of years old. Knowledge shared orally in an unbroken lineage. This kind of teaching is not available in your neighbourhood yoga studio. It has only just recently been brought out of orthodoxy and secrecy. It’s a legacy that was reserved for the priests in India. It’s only due to my teacher and his teacher breaking with tradition that enabled my partner John Weddepohl (who teaches this knowledge) to study this methodology for 7 years in India. And lucky me, after meeting John in 2011, also having the privilege of studying with his teacher.

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Going through the teaching on an ashram in India while dealing with diabetes wasn’t easy. I wasn’t on insulin at that stage and was trying to control my levels with diet. With special permission I was able to set up my room with a fridge and cooker. That way I could cook low carb meals and control my levels.

When I started the course, I was nervous about how I would manage. We were told we would have to sit in the teaching hall without leaving for the duration of the lecture. I needed to pee every hour so that freaked me out.

The structure of the course was three 1.5 hour lectures a day, in between we were expected to write out our understanding of the lecture and then hand those notes to our teacher. That way the teacher knew exactly how we were assimilating the teachings. Sitting on a cold marble floor 4.5 hours a day learning about the SELF that wasn’t what I thought it was was confronting.

We spent days dismantling our ideas about everything and I mean every single thing! Imagine being shown without a doubt that the idea that the body is sick, imperfect, unfixable is just that…an idea. Even my thoughts about my ideas where stripped bare. Revealing the ‘I’ thought. This idea I have about myself.

If you’re reading this and thinking…WHAT?

Yep that was me in India too. Until the whole teaching reached its peak.

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You know when you’re trying to untie a knot and how it takes ages to loosen and then finally you find that one part of the string which unravels the knot? That’s what it’s like when you are shown the nature of Self.

Once I understood the nature of Self, my relationship to diabetes completely shifted. I no longer felt burdened by it. Something my teacher emphasised when I met with him privately, was that the body is not our business. We don’t know why it does what it does. Our job is to get out of the way, to see the body as something that is happening in our presence. We can do one of two things hinder or aid the body. If the body requires food, water or sleep it’s up to us to provide that. If the body needs medication, again we must give it what it needs.

I have often shared in my posts that I have diabetes I am not my diabetes. The knowledge I gained in India is the essence of that phrase. I can never be what I have.

Knowing this has kept me sane.

See you tomorrow #NDAM #DiabetesAwarenessMonth

with great respect…

rachel