How do I understand my Disease

Vaibhav, I feel cursed having this disease in me which people my age generally don’t have (diabetes). I do not know how to take it positively. How should I deal with it?

Dear Anindita,

Firstly, let me say I am sorry you have to deal with this challenge at this early age.
Please take all the time you need to come into acceptance of the fact that life has given you this challenge to deal with it. I realise it seems unfair and cruel to have to face this challenge at this time. So please take the time to grieve the loss of certain aspects of your freedom. The inability to eat what you want, the stigma attached to the disease, not being able to do what your friends are doing, the need to be disciplined and follow a regime and so many other little things that can force us to re-evaluate our life and make changes to our habits. It is OK to be not OK with this for as long as you need to be. Nobody can judge you. It is up to you on how long to take to begin to accept this challenge and make it work for you.
One method for understanding how our mind reacts to such news is to understand the Stages of Grief model. When we hear such news we go through 5 distinct stages, namely;

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

I will let you look up this model on the net for more insight on how to move through these stages. These stages can apply for any kind of loss including the challenge you are facing. When we give ourselves time and acceptance, we begin to heal. Here is a simple meditation that you may already be familiar with for this stage of your grief. This will be your main practice supplemented by the understanding of grief and the study of lives of active people with diabetes. Please try to do this once a day till you feel a shift in your relationship to this challenge. Maybe weeks or months…. it doesn’t matter.


Sit or lie down comfortably. In this meditation, we want to be comfortable so as to invite our head, chest and gut to relax and release. Let go of all ideas of posture and form a pose that represents how you feel. Bent spine, curled up whatever…. doesn’t matter.

Start with a simple gratitude practice saying Thank You for 3 to 5 things that you are grateful for. Simple things are best… food, sleep, legs, arms, the next breath, family, friends. Gifts we take for granted. Be precise and specific. “I am grateful for the kind smile from my apartment security guard” for example. We then invite all our negativity and grief about this issue to surface. If ever, it gets too much simply stop the meditation and do something else. Come back to it later. If not, allow this negativity to arise. Try and locate where this negativity is… heart, belly, head, throat, stomach whereever. This is not a perfect science…. follow your intuition. Now simply breathe into this area….. gently, deeply… give this space the love and care it needs in order to get through. Imagine yourself to be the caregiver and the thoughts, emotions, stories and sensations to be the other…. someone that needs love and attention now. You can even use the phrases… ” I am so sorry you have to deal with this, I love you unconditionally with or without diabetes, We will get through this together, I am strong and I will support you, We will learn to make this work for us” if you wish. Work with these phrases or find your own. When you feel calmer finish with a small prayer or gratitude practice. Practice for 5 to 10 minutes daily once or twice…. you can extend the length and frequency as you see fit.

Please take all days or weeks you need in order to come into acceptance. You may even want to stop reading this mail further till you do. If you do read thats not a problem. But I encourage you to come back to it again at a later stage as well

End of Stage One Processing

Now that we have come into some level of acceptance of the situation itself, lets take a wider and more spiritual perspective of what we are dealing with.

While we may not always understand the working of the Divine, it is true that we are each given Exactly what we need to come into our 

Soul’s Purpose.

This is a way of communicating devotion , bhakti and not to be construed literally. Devotion helps us accept the workings of life and give us the Strength to walk forward with head held high. When we have devotion, we are not affected by the stigmas and negativities that mans world sends our way. We know beyond doubt that Life is doing what it needs to in order to keep the Whole Universe in balance. We for our part take on the challenges that it sends our way, in full knowledge that we are playing our part in the game of life. Gratitude practice, prayer, meditation, chanting, mantra are all ways to develop this aspect of ourselves. It doesn’t bestow mystical benefits but helps us develop a certain outlook on life. One that recognizes that we are but a tiny tiny aspect of the grand scheme of things. When we understand this, we really begin to understand how small our challenges are.
When we really begin to embody devotion, something truly magical begins to happen. Before wherein, the mind only saw the negative side of a situation i.e, the challenges… it now begins to see the Opportunities this situation brings. It may sound ridiculous… what kind of opportunities can Diabetes bring?

Please stop here and think about it for yourself before moving on;
Here are a couple I can think of;

  1. Discpline – This illness forces us to practice discipline. To deny ourselves things we love to eat. To follow a regime. To take responsibility for our behaviour. All these things will come very very handy in future when dealing with other situations. The difference between whether one leverages these or curses it depends on how one views this situation. As a challenge or as an opportunity. That cannot be taught. Its a choice you have to make.
  2. Exercise and Yoga – Anything that forces us to exercise regularly is a Blessing!
  3. Body and mind consciousness – We are forced to understand the workings of our body and our mind more. We can increasingly learn when our body craves certain foods and how to manage these cravings. We can learn how much of our eating habits are driven by the mind i.e., emotional eating. We can learn so much about ourselves just through careful observation of this. Earlier, since we weren’t forced to, we would have ignored this opportunity, now we HAVE to become smarter about our eating habits and our body’s need for nutrition and the types of nutrition
  4. Dietary Intelligence – We need to become smarter about what we put into our bodies. Finding healthy replacements and finding balance. This is not a small thing and can be taken to great lengths. Maybe at some point you may be inspired to publish The Super Tasty Cookbook For Diabetics or maybe even a Dummies for Diabetic Eating. So much opportunity.
  5. Herbal and Indigenous remedies – Another area to explore is herbal remedies people from different countries use to control blood sugar levels without the side-effects that Insulin may have. For example, Indonesians have something called Jamus or Tonics designed to manage this illness. You can explore such things and if beneficial bring it to India. Building on the collective wisdom about symptom management.

There is so much more you will gain given your age. By the time most people your age start getting this disease, you will be an Expert in the field and this may actually become the means through which you Serve the World!
This is just my way of looking at this positively. What is your way? What will you become when you grow up  given this challenge? 

Take courage… you are Supported. You are not going to walk this path Alone.

I hope you found this piece helpful. This journey is yours. The decision to succumb to life’s challenges or to stand up and covert it into opportunities is also yours. Absolutely no human or god can take that away from you. The greater the challenge, the greater the opportunity.

Best of Luck
With love,