Monday, January 25, 2010

The mind body connection in diabetic metaphors

Our bodies speak to us in many ways through the mind-body connection; sometimes in metaphors.

I have several diseases packed into one body: type 1 diabetes, osteoarthritis of the hip, diabetic retinopathy, celiac, psoriasis, and trigger finger. As you might imagine, having so many diseases has definitely made me stop and think: What’s going on?

So after years of treatment by doctors of Western medicine, which I am incredibly grateful for, I decided eight years ago to also explore alternative treatments like: acupuncture, reflexology, meditation, guided imagery, homeopathy, herbal medicine, yoga, focusing, chakras, coaching, and more. Each has had its place in bringing greater self-awareness of my body and how it ticks, and even more so, these alternative treatments have also taught me to become more attuned to how emotions express themselves through the body - otherwise known as the mind-body connection. What I hadn't planned on discovering is that sometimes my body speaks in metaphors.

I remember the day clearly when I realized that my diabetes is a metaphor. A friend of mine who worked in publishing had lent me a book on diabetes, whose title I do not remember or else I’d share it with you here. I was a bit resistant at first about receiving an introductory book about diabetes, as I had had the disease for over 30 years already and couldn't imagine what I would learn.

But I read the introductory chapter anyway and was in complete awe when I had discovered something new after more than 30 years of living with the disease. Crazy enough, my discovery happened while reading the definition. Diabetes is an auto-immune disorder where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys body tissue that it believes to be foreign.

Diabetes, as with other auto-immune disorders, is when your own body mistakenly attacks itself.

That statement hit me like a ton of bricks. My own cells were attacking me. Why would they do such a thing? I had been mistakenly attacking myself for decades. I tried to coax them to stop: “There, there, cells, it’s okay. Play nice with the other cells.” Why can’t they all just get along?

And then I realized that I had often been told by friends and family: You are your own worst enemy. I do attack myself – not only my cells – but also my words, thoughts, and emotions. Was my diabetes, my body, acting out what my mind was saying to me all along?

Diabetes really is about inner conflict, but not only on the cellular level. The inner conflict extends to the emotional as well. So I began to journal, meditate, and ponder about my inner conflicts. What are they? For those diabetics out there who are reading, we all know about the conflict/balance between being independent and also insulin dependent. And there are many more of these conflicts, feeling different/foreign among non-diabetics...The list goes on...

I have since continued exploring alternative methods in healing this inner conflict, such as listening to my body’s voice as discussed in a recent blog entry: “Listen to your body.” I have also turned to guided imagery. There’s a great one on Andrew Weil’s Mind, Body, Toolkit called: “Guided Imagery Exercise: Deep Relaxation in a Place of Healing” where the listener is guided in thanking each part of the body, focusing on how the body has the ability to heal itself, and then going to a calm, serene place. I love that one. There are other alternative therapies that work on finding peace within: Yoga routines focused on detoxification work well, as does tai chi, reiki, chakra work, and focusing.

Although I am still diabetic, with this new found awareness, I have found that my self-care has improved, my A1C’s have gone down, and I am at peace, living life to the fullest.

What about other diseases and ailments? Could they be metaphors too? I don’t know, but let’s find out.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Ms Concious diabetic: Bravo for taking that very real step in listening to your body and most importantly your emotions. I am a firm believer that our emotions are at the root of all diseases. I was recently diagnosed as a diabetic @ 58 years old. I didn't know what diabetes was, but boy did I do my research like yourself, I realized that diabetes is a disease of the body not being able to process sugar properly. Hummm..have I allowed the bitterness of life to take over the sweetness? In the 6 months since being diagnosed, my numbers have come down, I lost 20 lbs and have been making a concious effort to seek out the sweetness. I like that you connect Metaphors to the body and wish you well on your jouney into self discovery