Into the time machine: If I were talking to myself five years ago…

Stephen…

I’m back. I know, I wrote to you back at diagnosis, but haven’t been in touch much since. Well, we need to talk again.

I know you’re having a really rough time of it right now. People are beating you up nearly every day with their ridiculous requests and their stigmas and their belief that diabetes is simple to manage. In case you haven’t figured it out by now… It’s not. Likewise, work has been wearing on you for a long time now, and it seems like the cloud that’s been following you around for a long time will never move away.

Well, I have some good news for you: This is going to change.

Certain events are going to occur, and it’s going to seem like it’s getting worse for a while, but trust me when I say it will get better. Like it does whenever things like this happen to you, the change will come from somewhere where you least expect it. To begin with, you’re going to finally give in and start on an insulin pump. When I look at it now, I think that may be the first time in decades you say to yourself: “I don’t give a crap what it looks like, I’m still the same person I was before I connected this thing”. About a year and a half after that, you’re going to hear the term “Artificial Pancreas” for the first time. That’s going to set off a number of feelings and journeys of discovery too. Right about this time too you’ll discover this Diabetes Online Community thing that I mentioned in that letter I sent you at diagnosis. Once you do, it’s going to set off little changes… things that you do that seem little on their own, but start to add up to being a better person who’s more connected to his outside world than ever before.

You’re going to eventually call yourself a diabetes advocate. It’s going to sound weird at first when you say that, but at some point you’ll start to reassess your viewpoint of what an advocate really is. Also, going back to those little things, you’ll start to get involved in causes that will not only help others but will also reinforce your own confidence and sense of self worth, which, let’s be honest, needs a hell of a lot of reinforcement right now. Seriously dude… you are worth more than people are saying you’re worth right now… stop hanging your head. Unfortunately, you’ll find that there are causes that need your help all the time. Don’t worry… just do what you can, when you can do it. Something is better than nothing.

For what it’s worth right now, here’s a little advice:

Stop worrying about everything all the time. You’re not 20, or 30, or even 40 anymore. You can’t fight every battle like it’s life and death. You don’t have the time, and you don’t have the energy to deal with everyone’s crap full time anymore. Let other people fight things out. Use the energy you save for something you have a passion for. I know you’re going to find that passion again soon. And there will be people who need your help. Use your powers for good.

You can learn from everyone… even the people who don’t have your best interests at heart.
People are interesting. They are not all the same. They all have something important to tell you, and they are revealing it almost all the time. Be open to listening. Be open to recognizing that it’s okay if you aren’t the foremost expert on everything. Find out how good it feels to help shine the light on someone else who deserves it. Never, ever forget to say Thank You. Over and over.

Be a little bolder.
Remember your best friend from high school? I know, you miss him. He was the kind of guy who could sell anything to anyone, and did. He was the one who, when the Russian hockey team came to town in the early 80s I think, was the only one locally to get an interview because he bought a few pair of American jeans and handed them out to the players. He made friendships in that instance, and even kept one or two of them until he died. What he did wasn’t crazy, was it? He was just saying, “I’ll try this, and maybe it will work”. That’s what you need to do. Ignore that voice that says you’re going to get yelled at for asking. If you do get yelled at, it will be an indictment of their character, not yours. And you won’t get yelled at. People might even say yes.

Be a little happier.
This is important: Enjoy the moments of happiness you’re granted when they happen. Not everything can be sunny every day. And as much as I hate to be the one to break this to you, you’re not going to live forever. So when something good happens, don’t worry about the evil that’s lurking around the corner ready to jump you. That’s old school Stephen-think. Just enjoy the happiness while it lasts. It’s going to make a huge difference for you if you do.
 
 
I really hope this letter finds you. You need a change. A series of changes. They might seem difficult to imagine, but you’re going to pull it off. I know you will. I support you… no conditions. Now be well and start writing the next great chapter of your life.
 
 
 

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