Beginning Again

I'm not gonna lie: this one is a little deep, dark and depressing.

But I have to reflect briefly before circling back to the present task of Moving Forward.

A lot has been going on in my mind. I'm not healthy, not happy. Things have been tough, and I have been at the point where I want to give up. Diabetes management is the last thing on my mind, and I've been drowning in hopelessness aside from just feeling crummy.

Sleepy all the time. Consumed by self-doubt. Reclusive. Emotionless, humor-deprived, non-focused, irritable, unhappy. Personally, professionally, emotionally, mentally, physically, internally and externally.

For too long, I just haven't been "me." In a sense, I've been wearing a mask.

Not talking or meeting or being curious as I've traditionally been. The writing hasn't seemed to flow, and what does happen to appear on my screen doesn't seem right or as interesting as I know it truly is. I'm bankrupt in the context of who I've always been. That's led me to scary mental places where I can't even recognize myself. The person looking back at me in the mirror doesn't smile, and when he does it's not real. Dark bags are under his eyes, and you can just see that he's tired - no matter how much coffee or Diet Coke he drinks.

How long has it been going on? Not sure. Probably more than a year, but it's slowly progressed and gotten worse as the months and weeks have gone on. Lately, in recent months, I've hit the tipping point more than once and have felt myself melting down.

Admitting, sharing, or even acting on this hasn't happened - that'd be my solidifying my own failures, creating "excuses" why I'm not able to handle this on my own.

The Diabetes Online Community has helped boost me, as has being around and having discussions with those that I love. But I've strayed from the path I need to be on, and lost focus. Life storms and stresses have been overwhelming, and that's just fueled the frustrations and negativity to the point where I'm completely burnt out. Everything, including diabetes - I'm so afraid of where my A1c is hovering, that I've been avoiding that needed Endo visit.

So, what's to blame?

Depression has been building, and burying me under the weight of a thousand pounds of concrete. But even aside from that, a key factor is probably that I hadn't been taking my hyperthyroid medication on a regular basis. There's honestly no reason that comes to mind, except that I've had a sense of "hopelessness" during the past year. This is probably self-circulating and I was shooting myself in the foot, but it is how life has been.

Until recently.

Some friends got together in Kansas City and a life-changing experience opened my eyes once again.

I drove 1,022 miles to be a part of that, carrying a weight that's existed for so long. There was a lot of fun and memory-making, but it wasn't until the return trip it all set in. Half-way on the drive back, as 10th Avenue North played on the radio and the sensations of that weekend replayed in my head, the full force of how far gone and where my journey had taken me finally set in. And that's when I pulled to the side of the interstate, near a road sign that said Indianapolis was 200 miles away, and cried my eyes out.

And talked to God.

And wrote, with a pencil supplied from the hotel room and the notepad I use to tell people's stories.

My heart opened, and for the first time in a very long while, I truly saw some light ahead. Even as a beautifully weary sun set below the horizon to the West, and a hopeful moon was ready for the challenges ahead.

Sharing is so important. For too long, I haven't. When everything seems to depressing, why would you want to bring others down? The guilt is just never-ending. But it's only through sharing that you can move past this.I see that I need help and I'm starting to get it. I've been ashamed of my failings and senses of inadequacy, and haven't reached out even to those closest in my life. And that's why I've only perpetuated this cycle. Not anymore.

Maybe, there is something I can do to get past this. Maybe, the message of "You Can Do This" isn't far-fetched and unattainable. Quite possibly, a light at the end of the tunnel actually does exist and can be reached. It takes effort, and one can't do it alone.

One man traveled 15,000 miles (kilometers?) to be a part of that group, and in doing so he's opened my eyes again. He has saved me. The friendship and sense of community that brought him here, that he credits for saving him, has indeed also saved me. And for that, I'm eternally grateful.

Since that experience, several friends have written about their own struggles and I've related to them completely. Seen myself in what they've been writing about their challenges, and I've found hope and guidance in how they're moving forward. That's helped me make some progress in my own life, too.

Through the eyes of something bigger than yourself, you see how you haven't been alone and that you have been carried. Those Footprints that you've heard about before, somehow magically appear in the sand on the beach.

I know I can walk on, because so many are there to help walk along with me and carry my tired soul for a few steps if needed.

Moving forward, a single step at a time. One pill, one blood test, one handwritten letter rather than an email or blog comment, one actual conversation, and real face-to-face talk. Truly living. Each day.

I have an appointment at my Endo's office this week, and I've scheduled an introductory session with a counselor in the comings weeks. As I wrote recently in another post, now it begins again. Moving Forward. And I know I'm not alone.

Thank you for bearing with me, and simply for doing what you do in my own life. You have and continue to make a difference, and I can't appreciate that enough.


Kelly said…
Simply Beautiful! Continue to believe that you are never alone.
Joanne said…
Thank you for sharing this... It makes the rest of us feel less alone.. Thankful for you and your words, Mike.
Alexis Nicole said…
Thank you for opening your heart, you are never alone friend.
Kim said…
You are never alone, Mike. And please remember that struggling and failure are not always synonymous.

Kate Cornell said…
Thank you Mike for your openness and candor. As I read your post I had tears in my eyes. I could see so much of my son there (non-D) and a few of my own struggles over time. It is difficult but we are stronger than we realize. I'm glad that you are finding your way back. How great is it that you're not alone!
Emma said…
Thank you for posting, Michael, and reminding me that I'm not alone. I'm sorry you're fighting this as well, but you know we've all got your back in the DOC. Hugs!
Kelly said…
You are never alone in the DOC, for sure. Im slowly coming out of my own darkness, I hear your every word and feel so much the same. ((HUGS)) and many prayers coming your way!
Bob Pedersen said…
Mike, thank you for posting this. I think you know that I've had dark times of my own, times when the guilt and shame felt so overwhelming that I dared not share it for fear of wounding those I shared with. A thousand congratulations for the steps you've taken to move forward.
I'm so glad for you...for your travel to be with good peeps and have the realization you had...for making the appointments w/ endo and counselor...for taking moments, just moments, to do what you need to you for YOU. To keep you ticking and moving on this earth. We need you. You are by no means alone, even when it can feel like that's the only truth happening. You are not alone, and there are so many of us who know exactly (or damn close to exactly) what you're feeling and going through. Keep feeling, even when it hurts. And keep writing, and talking, and sharing, even when it's a PITA or doesn't seem to work the way you want it to/think it should. We've got your back. And not only CAN you do this, but you ARE doing this. Right now. And now. And even now. ;) Each moment, you're doing it. Much love and good thoughts to you, friend. I'm proud of you.
The DL said…
Thank you for sharing. You aren't alone and we have all felt like this. I am happy to hear you are on the right path.
George said…
I have found that with every mountain top comes a valley but that is where the water flows to. That is where the grass grows. The valley is where the journey begins again.

You are never ever alone. That is the beauty of the OC.

Stay connected. Write when you can. Email, tweet, text. All of us are here, whenever you need us.

Kelly Booth said…
Mike, like the others said, you are not alone. Your sharing what you are going thru is helping the rest of us that are struggling also. Taking one step at a time is the best way to go. I know I get too overwhelmed if I look at the big picture. I know it is a PIA to take those thyroid meds, but your thyroid being out of whack can mess with your mind big time – I have been down that road. Although it won’t make the other problems go away, it might make them easier to deal with. You are a good person and we will all be here with you!
Lizmari said…
Mike, I really understand how you feel. Depression is a difficult animal to master, and it's hard opening up to others for fear of bringing them down, or not bringing something 'uplifting' to the arena. Many times, we just don't know where it came from... like the logic of the chicken and the egg. I, too, have my own little thyroid pill to take every day. I, too, struggle with taking it... more times than I care to admit. It's hard to know what started when... Did I get depressed first, and then stop taking the pill? Did I stop taking the pill and then get depressed? Did I get depressed and not do so good with diabetes? Or did I do not so good with diabetes, out of burnout, and then get depressed? We may never know that... But I am proud of you in that you NEVER abandoned yourself. You've kept yourself anchored to others' blogs, others' experiences, DSMA, the DOC, and just... absorbing what you could... listening to yourself long enough to at least know there's something wrong. And that's a bigger step than you might think. It's a HUGE step. You are never alone, and not just because of the DOC, or your family, but also... because you have YOU. I am glad you haven't forgotten that. Baby steps, friend. Thanks for all your support on my blog, and your kind comments. It means a lot. More than you think.
myawesomelife said…
Thank you for so many others have said, you are not alone. Thank you for saying all of the things I find myself feeling but are afraid to speak about. You are an inspiration to us all.
Scott Strange said…

I'm very proud of you for this post and the message it brings. You are definitely not alone in this, my friend!

Great post- Thank you for being REAL. You are not alone. Not in the DOC. We get it. On all different levels.

I've been there. Gone through dark days. And NOT always D related!! I know it's hard to see what is true and real when you are in that dark place. But you'll get there. You will. I believe in you.

Before Sweets was diagnosed there was a song that I would hear... And I started playing it over and over. And it brought me to tears every single time. It was about how God is with us and we have nothing to fear. And I just FELT something was coming. A few weeks later, I found out what it was. But I can see so clearly now that He was with me. Even before I really knew I needed Him. Before I knew why. He's with you, too.

Sending you big hugs! You CAN do this. You WILL. And that light will keep getting brighter.
Jess said…
oh, mike. i am so sorry things have been so difficult. i am so glad you decided to share this with us. not only so we can support you, but also because this post is going to help a lot of people.

you are never alone. <3
Misty said…
Mike, thank you for sharing your raw emotions. Sometimes we hide these feelings because we feel embarrassed or that something is wrong with us. I am so appreciative to you for helping others to see that we are not alone in this. I love what Kim said, "struggling and failure are not always synonymous." Love that!
Anonymous said…
Mike, thank you for sharing this post. I think making the counselling appointment is a great decision. I recently started it myself in September and I am so glad I did because I am doing a lot better now than I was before. It's a process, and you need to be ready for it. You are never alone, my friend, and I am sorry that things have been so difficult. Know that you are never alone, and you are loved.
k2 said…
Mike -
Thank you so much for sharing with all of us who love and care for you! You are not alone and your words have once again reinforced that neither are those who read what you write!
Brenda W. said…
This was so beautifully written Mike. I feel like I've have been in that same dark place the last few months...finally feeling some hope of pulling out of it. Thank you for sharing ((HUGS))
Jamesjcog said…
You might be interested to check out Martin Seligman’s TED talk on positive psychology (ie happiness!)
Fortis in Arduis (strength comes out of difficulties)
Scott S said…
It's taken me a while to go through all the posts I haven't read or commented on, but the notion that patients who get sick of chronic illness are "depressed" seems to me to be a misnomer. It's really not about a neurological imbalance in the brain as many drug companies would have us believe, but the fact that this $#!t gets tiring for decades on end. While I agree that the OC can go a long way towards filling this void in the healthcare system, the reality is that burnout is natural for people with ANY disease that the healthcare profession has failed to restore to complete health to (and that doesn't mean insulin, it means an END to permanent care for diabetes, not newfangled devices to make the job marginally easier). Having said this, I don't think the idea of evaluating self-care by HbA1c makes any sense. That does not measure the effort involved, merely the end result which may be attributed to a bit of luck, too. All I can add to this conversation is that any endo who is fixated on the end result of HbA1c isn't caring for the entire patient, so they should realize that the numbers aren't going to be ideal but take steps to fix the depression issues before trying to address the HbA1c.
Tracy1918 said…
Your post made me think of Isaiah 41:13. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and say do not fear, I will help you.

You're not alone. Keep your chin up. : )
Unknown said…
Massive hugs. It all rings familiar to me, probably to a lot of us. I agree that through writing, we can do a lot to ease our pain and see the light.

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