Trying to be normal in an abnormal world

Most people experience some kind of anti-climax after the turn of the New Year. After all the wrapping paper has been cleared away along with the party streamers, it’s back to work or study, bills and the shuffle of everyday life. For those grappling with eating disorders, it can bring a sense of huge relief that a very stressful period is over with for another year.

But then comes the onslaught, my personal most-loathed part of January: the sudden excessive emphasis on diet, fitness and “getting rid of those extra Christmas pounds!”

On most days it can be difficult trying to navigate through a twisted tunnel of mixed messages when you suffer from an eating disorder, with or even without the complicated addition of type 1 diabetes. You are told by your doctors and by the part of you that wants to be healthy that you need to eat. You need to take insulin. To get better you need to refuel, replenish and relax.  But the environment around you, especially during January, suggests the opposite.

Media and society can easily push you back into a disordered mindset you are trying to escape from. It’s tough, pushing back and in particular rejecting the ideas that come from voices around you. It can seem like everyone is talking about going on some kind of diet, joking about how much they eat over Christmas. Even friends who don’t mean to trigger are suddenly opting for skinny lattes whereas in December they’d have ordered a hot chocolate with cream. Comments overheard all around “oh I have to get back on the treadmill!” “I need to get back into my old clothes!”

You have to try to keep reminding yourself that to recover you need to regain additional strength. Reserves are low, and whether underweight or not someone that has been restricting food or insulin will have a starved mind and depleted body. Low fat or calorie controlled might be unnecessary for someone of a normal weight without an eating disorder, but for someone with one this can be harmful without that stable level to begin from. Additionally, for someone with type 1 diabetes many of the eating plans that are promoted can be completely impractical.

An important message to note is that it has been proved that New Year’s resolutions rarely stick. Many individuals will give up on new fitness plans a few weeks in and may lose a few pounds but then gain a couple back. It is often a short-lived phase yet for someone with an eating disorder it can be a deep rooted obsession. It can kill us.

I just try to keep my head down; sometimes it is all you can do. Divert my eyes from the screaming front pages of trashy magazines and stupid television adverts. Remind myself that certain sources of media are only interested in making money and don’t care about potentially harmful messages they might be construing.

Repeat if necessary: I don’t need a new television package, sofa, dining room table set or to sponsor a child in Africa. I do not need to try out the 5:2 plan, join the gym or abandon eating completely for shakes or juicing.

I wish all of you that are struggling out there and reading this a happy and safe 2017. Please, try to be kind to yourselves.

 

By Claire Kearns.

DWED 2016 Holiday Card Exchange

This year DWED is again running a holiday card exchange. This is open to anyone from the UK* that is currently struggling with type 1 diabetes and an eating disorder or has done so in the past.

If you'd like to spread a little Christmas cheer and put a smile on someone's face while perhaps offering some words of comfort then please do sign up! In turn, you shall receive a card of your own.  You may wish to include your favourite quote or piece of advice for surviving the holiday season, and cards can be anything you like, from handmade to shop bought, no great expense required. 

The only condition is that if you do agree to take part and then later need to drop out you inform us asap (claire@dwed.org.uk) so we can arrange a different pairing for your intended recipient. We understand completely that issues may arise, especially when precarious health is concerned, but we ask this so that hopefully nobody will lose out.

The deadline for signing up is just 5 days away, 10th December,* and we ask that cards be posted as soon as possible, keeping in mind that the last posting date for 1st class in the UK is the 22nd December. You should receive a confirmation with the details of who you need to send your card out to soon after the 10th.*

10/12/16: Extending sign up deadline by 2 days till 12th December. 

*11/12/16: We are joining forces with US charity the Diabulimia Helpline to widen the scope of our holiday exchange. This means you MAY be given the address of a recipient based internationally. If you'd specifically prefer to only post a card within the UK then this is perfectly fine and can be arranged, just let us know at claire@dwed.org.uk. 

12/12/16: Sign up for the card exchange is now closed. Those that have responded will in due course receive the name and address of the person they should send their card to. Thank you all and happy holidays!

 

Release of new report concerning regional variations in diabetes care

Last Wednesday The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Diabetes launched its new report ‘Levelling up: Tackling Variation in Diabetes Care’ at an event held at the House of Commons.

The All Party parliamentary group describes itself as ‘A nonpartisan cross-party interest group of UK parliamentarians who have a shared interest of raising the profile of diabetes, its prevention and improving the quality of treatment and care for people living with diabetes.’ Attendees of the evening were welcomed by the chairman of the APPG Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP who urged for a “fundamental and irreversible policy shift” and asserted the need for a revolution of thinking around diabetes care. His introduction was followed by speakers Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, patient voice Lauren Proctor and diabetes specialist nurse Ruth Miller.

Conclusions within the report were reached after a series of meetings held over the last year in which the APPG has heard from people living with diabetes as well as health care professionals and leading Clinical Commissioning Groups. They have provided testimonials relating to inconsistent quality for the treatment of diabetes and associated medical needs. Examples were put forward concerning good and bad practice and areas in need of improvement. The report was researched and funded by charities Diabetes UK and JDRF.

In the lead up to the publication of ‘Levelling up’ the government has announced the provision of approximately £40million per year to be used towards the improvement of nationwide care for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This will be extremely useful in facilitating implementation of the report’s recommendations and improving nationwide diabetes services. DWED particularly hopes that in light of this financial boost, standards of psychological support will be moved to further to the front of the agenda.

There are three key areas to the report. These are ‘high-quality conversations with the right healthcare professionals’, ‘technology’, and ‘support for living with diabetes’ which focuses on structured education most of all while briefly touching on the lack of consideration for emotional wellbeing. Each section presents specific evidence with regards to gaps in the variation of care services and explores ‘What the NHS is doing’ successfully in some areas of the country. The aim is to use these models as a framework from which to learn from, build upon and implement across the board to reduce the current NHS postcode lottery.

‘Levelling up: Tackling Variations in Diabetes Care’ can be downloaded from the APPG website. Alternatively, for a full breakdown of and review of the report and how it may be of use to someone with diabetes alongside an eating disorder, DWED provides a comprehensive document as part of Novembers premium level membership package. To subscribe for just £3 per month please do so via: http://dwed.org.uk/membership-options.

By Claire Kearns

Butterflies - a poem of memorial

I wrote this poem in 2013 for a DWED member that passed away, but in also representative of all those we had lost. I was recently was reminded of it as it resurfaced as a reminder on facebook. It was rushed and is somewhat cliched, but seemed fitting at the time, and definitely fitting to her. I read out at a memorial service that took place in London that year, among friends, including another we have also since grieved. It scares me so much that this is continuing to happen to those we love, to the precious ones. It's not fair.

Butterflies
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A mirrored disco ball turns, flickers, and bursts, 
In vibrant purples, deep pinks and brilliant green,

Illuminating, we saw pieces they did not see, 
Pieces she could not see, 

A broken mirror, shattered by distortion, patched together with sticky-tape, 
Yet under daylight: a beautiful mosaic, 
Shimmering and shining.

Talents trampled down in killer heels, 
A hatred so harsh and toxic it burned,
Desperate Bambi eyes, searching for good, 
That was already so obvious to us, 
The shy caterpillar, hiding cocooned, 
Then uncurling, with a mischievous smile, 
Lit with undeniable sass and glitter.

And she was of colours and butterflies. 
And she dances, shaking up the air. 
Beside us, never forgotten.

By Claire Kearns.