“It;s time, it’s time, time to align your body with your mind”, sings Henry Rollins in the Disconnect Myself. I have always loved this song. Depending on my mood, the song can mean so many different things. For the most part, it is primarily positive. I would like to say there are zero negative thoughts, but that would be a huge lie. When I lift, train, exercise or whatever else you want to call it, I reserve certain artists to listen to. Some days are reserved for Billy Joel while other days Slayer is a great fit. My time in my garage or at the gym is to clear the mind and leave the stress of work, life and disease behind me. This is what I mean by disconnect.
Being able to disconnect from diabetes is huge for me. There are so many reminders of it throughout the day. In the past, I was continually negative and filled with self hate because I never felt worthy of being happy because I couldn’t live a normal life. I am not sure what that is anyhow. Luckily, I have been coming to the point where things do make sense and I am worth being happy. Diabetes has always been a piece of motivation for me to succeed. As a kid, it fueled me on the athletic field. I never wanted my coaches to think differently of me because of my disease. Diabetes gave a chip on my shoulder. This led me to work endlessly on getting better, getting stronger, getting faster and studying the sports I played. The weight room was my home while in high school. It was my place to feel confident and successful. A place to disconnect.
After my football days were over due to too many concussions, I was lost. Right before my last year of college football, my control of my diabetes was fantastic. I kept great tabs on my nutrition and wrote everything down. Pretty much as soon as I was no longer allowed to be on the field I started to get a bunch of tattoos. The adrenaline from getting tattooed was a similar high I felt while playing football. It just didn’t fill the void though. This created a downward spiral of not caring about too much. The work I put in the previous year with preparing for the season went down the toilet quick. I quit checking my blood sugars and gave huge amounts of insulin and ate like crap. I didn’t care. I felt unloved and not worthy of being loved.
I broke out of this behavior by writing and moving. Writing down my thoughts was huge. It was a way to flush the negative and clear the mind. Disconnect myself. Moving was great because I had to refocus to a new school and figure out a real path at 22 years old. I didn’t want to be a college drop out with one year to go. My goal was to get into education. I loved school growing up. It was an escape for me as a child. Fast forward a bit and things evened out more. I started working out again and feeling good about myself. I still had the void of football and athletics, but I was in a better spot after a year of true struggle mentally.
To bring it back here, allowing my disease to be ignored and letting it become an ugly monster that terrorized me was my downfall. I had to learn to accept the fact that I had to be responsible and be accountable for my actions both physically and mentally. I wish I could say I still don’t have dark days, but I do. Some days just feel like too much and I become overwhelmed. Going to the gym or my garage and throwing around some heavy weights seems to help me disconnect.
Over the last 8 years or so, I have tried training and competing in strength sports to bring happiness and a sense of accomplishment. I love the process of getting stronger, being challenged and see progress. Training and preparing for competitions have helped me keep great control of my disease.
Ultimately, proper management is a decision. Through all the ups and downs of this diabetes thing, the constant is me. I decide who wins. I decide when to disconnect from the negative or the positive. It’s not motivation, it’s not a death sentence, it’s not who I am, it’s just something I live with.
Be who you want to be. If you want to be healthy, take the appropriate steps. Questions, ask away. I am an open book.