It all started sitting on her floor. She had a needle in her arm, injecting insulin. I held a pill box with 8 pills in it for the day. I tossed the pills into my mouth, washed them down with water, and got up to continue my morning routine. She laughed, “we’re just a bunch of druggies”. I’d never noticed before, because this was just my normal. But it’s true.
Chelsea has type 1 diabetes. I have POTS. We are both dependent upon medication and lifestyle changes to live “normal” lives. But we both live “normal” lives (if you can even call any life normal). Chelsea is dependent upon insulin and glucose. I’m dependent upon a variety of medications, extra water, and salt. We joke that we’re both dependent upon white powders (sugar and salt), which is in some sense true.
If we don’t exercise, we feel crappy. If we don’t sleep enough we feel worse. If we don’t eat right… you get the picture. Self care is a non-negotiable for both of us. In 2016, when most millennials are running at light speed to achieve, socialize and have it all, this can be a hard thing to prioritize. But when it’s what you do to survive, you make it work.
I realized during this time on her floor that Chelsea and I are bonded by a dependence on something outside of ourselves. Other people could go without drinking water or eating sugar. Not Chelsea and I. How does this simple fact change the way that we view the world and live our lives?
- We cherish our time on this earth and every day we’re given. We know that it could be gone at any moment, and don’t take anything for granted. Likewise, we value this earth as itself a miracle, nature as sacred and something to cherish and protect *cough* recycle and compost *cough*.
- We value people. As autonomous cell-machines that contain the miracle of life, people are just that – a miracle. Every one is different. Every single person has value. Every single person has interests, passions, fears, trials, and victories. Chelsea and I love fiercely and yearn for everyone to see their value and worth, know themselves at their core and express themselves. How does this manifest for us? For Chelsea, this manifests through empathy and dance therapy. For me, through connected, heart conversations and photography.
- We don’t sweat the little things. If Chelsea doesn’t take care of her blood sugar or I don’t drink water, we could have (and have both experienced) a medical crisis on our hands. Since we’ve been through these things and made it out on the other side, life’s stresses: the unexpected curveballs and all, don’t really phase us. We’re not superhuman- we still feel the emotions associated with a break up or an apartment lease falling through, but we are able to put those things in perspective.
Is it a coincidence that both Chelsea and I are artists? That we love reading books by Brene Brown, talking about empathy and vulnerability, and loving fiercely? Perhaps. Or perhaps experiencing the fact that we are mortal- that this life is not guaranteed- puts us in a less risk averse position than our peers. We’ve lived a bit more life than your average 23-year olds, so we’re determined to live our lives how our hearts and souls guide us to, not how society prescribes.