I’m a big believer that sometimes my biggest barrier in life is myself. It’s true for many of us. There are no doubt real life obstacles that exist but how we choose to handle them makes an enormous difference in the outcome. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to see through the insecurities and fear that cloud our reality. I remember seeing an article posted to Facebook talking about how not only has gay rights in the office gotten better but that anti-gay policies can be detrimental to an organization’s public image. The comments that followed turned into a discussion about people who are still closeted late in life and how they use fear of job loss as a reason to stay closeted. One person made the comment “They do it to themselves.” Although it sounds harsh, there is some truth to the sentiment. Often we can mistake our own fear as reality. There is a point in life where the only real barrier is ourselves.
As someone who values honestly and conviction I need to acknowledge my own short comings. Lately I’ve felt like a hypocrite because I’ve been avoiding making a long overdue post. So even though it makes me a little uncomfortable I need to address the elephant in the room.
I was diagnosed with diabetes back in the Spring of 2013. Those paying extra attention will notice that coincided with my weight loss. I couldn’t ignore the weight loss in my writing but I was purposely vague about it because I wasn’t comfortable talking about the truth behind it. I used “health reasons” as a work around because I never wanted to deny or lie about it. Since then I’ve gotten healthier and now having lived with it for a while I decided it was time to be honest. In total I lost about 30-40lbs. The first 10lbs were purely a side effect of the diabetes and one of the symptoms that lead me to see a doctor. The rest of the weight was due to my drastic diet change as a result of the diagnosis. Before I lost weight I was at my heaviest at around 280lbs and had reached a point where for the first time genuinely like what I saw in the mirror. However it wasn’t long before I was forced to choose between health and body image. Knowing that looks don’t matter if you’re dead I chose health and a slimmer build.
To give you a glimpse into my feelings at the time I’m including this passage that I wrote back on February 25, 2013 about a month before I went to the doctor to get checked out. I wrote this knowing that eventually I would need to talk about it and having an honest account of how I felt in the moment would be important.
Monday, February 25, 2013 3:35 PM
I don’t exercise and I have a bad diet. My diet isn’t just filled with bad food it also lacks good food. For all these reasons my mother’s greatest fear for many years has been that I’ll become diabetic. She asks me about it so often that I know the symptoms and warning signs by heart. Excessive urinating, excessive thirst, and weight loss. As hard as I’ve tried to ignore her neurosis I admit a little has snuck into my brain. The one thing that always made me feel secure was that I was definitely not loosing weight. That all changed a couple of weeks ago. Two separate friends commented on my thinner looking appearance. I decided to get on the scale and as it turns out I have lost about 5lbs. Two possible explanations: First the rational explanation that I’ve been eating a less because I’ve been trying to spend less money on food. I call it the I’m poor diet. The second is the neurotic explanation where I think I’m definitely diabetic. Unfortunately the neurotic has take over my brain and I’m now deeply terrified. Every time I pee I’m mentally making note of the last time I used the bathroom and the time difference. As much as it might ‘all be in my head’ there is still a very real possibility that I’m diabetic. It’s all I think about and it made that last week very stressful. Over the weekend it took every ounce of energy I had to kick my depression. Friday and Saturday were bad. I’m trying now to adopt a new attitude. Regardless of any test results, I’ve decided to use it as a wake up call and get my health in order.
I don’t like broadcasting the fact that I’m diabetic but I know deep down it’s the right thing to do. I felt ashamed because I knew my diabetes was my fault. Further more I was afraid everyone would judge me knowing that I could have prevented it had I just been healthier all along. So I kept it as a closely guarded secret. Truth be told before today only Russ and a very very small handful of people have known.
I bring all of this up to make a larger point. I originally kept this private because I didn’t want to deal with everyone’s judgmental attitude. I’ve always been infamous for my picky eating and I knew people would no doubt point to that as a reason for my current situation. I knew people’s comments would basically boil down to “I told you so.” I knew people would react badly. I knew it! Or did I? My expectation that everyone would react badly was actually a reflection of my own state of mind. Deep down I was disappointed in myself and it was I that was judging me the harshest. I projected my own fears and insecurities on everyone else. I had made up the whole perceived struggle in my head. The reality of the situation is that all the available facts would lead most people to assume that all my friends would be nothing but supportive. Diabetes is unfortunately extremely common in the bear community and many people deal with it openly and honestly. In fact I suspect many of you reading this are laughing that I made such a big deal about such a common illness. I agree it’s a little ridiculous that I tried to hide something that no one else is actually concerned about. So I decided it was time to take some of my own advice and be the person I expect myself to be. It’s time to be honest and get rid of all the bullshit nonsense I invented in my head.
To anyone feeling scared, ashamed, or embarrassed about anything I implore you to be honest and talk about it. Coming out of whatever closet you are in is always an improvement. I guarantee you will feel better afterward.
*A note about my family: My family still doesn’t know and never I plan to tell them. While this sounds like symptom of fear and self loathing it’s actually for practical purposes. The short story is that my mother worries a lot and even leans toward neurotic. More so then just the average mom. Her biggest fear has always been diabetes and I just don’t have the heart to break her heart. I know if I told her she would be beside herself with fear and concern. It’s an easy secret to keep and in a strange way I feel like I am giving her the gift of blissful ignorance. Having her know and worry wouldn’t change anything so why give her the added stress? Also my parent tend to react badly to bad news and they would very likely say some along the lines of “I told you so.” If and when that happened I would find it hard to control the urge to leap across the table and chock them. As for my sister, I would like to tell her except that she has a very bad history with keeping secrets.