There is much known about the progression to the development of type 1 diabetes, but a lot still remains a mystery. We are told there is a two-pronged process, which involves genetic predisposition and a trigger.

But what is the trigger?

Some say it was a virus or a period of particular stress. Others believe it’s environmental. For me, I’ve no idea. I wasn’t unwell with a cold or flu or stomach bug. It was a stressful year with planning our wedding, looking for a house to buy and running my own business. But more stressful than usual? I’m not really sure.

We hear the word ‘trigger’ a lot in health. I know that for me there are triggers that can see me in a downwards spiral leading to diabetes distress, and its good mate, diabetes burnout. Others say they can identify the trigger that resulted in their first anxiety attack. There are triggers that result in ‘attacks’ for those living with coeliac disease or triggers that can cause flare-ups for people with lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, or triggers leading to seizures.

I’ve always wondered about the word. It implies a fully loaded gun that is about to go off – quite an appropriate description really. But what happens for the trigger to be pulled?

Is there, in fact, a ‘trigger point’ as such or is it the moment that we stop and acknowledge that there is something that needs attention?

I can rarely signpost the exact moment that results in diabetes distress. It’s never ‘an event’; it sneaks up on me. Sometimes – though not always – I can see that it is approaching. Does this mean I do something to stop it getting to the point where I am so distressed that I stop my diabetes self-care? Ha – no!

While I may have become better at recognizing that I am on the road to diabetes distress, I’m not so good at identifying the things that send me in that direction. Simplistically, I could say it’s just me getting sick and tired of doing this day in day out, and I am sure that is part of it.

But when I am being particular self-aware and intuitive I know that there are other things that contribute. When I wasn’t feeling good about myself earlier this year, diabetes self-care was the last thing on my mind – possibly because it couldn’t fit in there with all the feelings of sadness.

And I wonder how much of it is also about feeling that my broken body doesn’t deserve looking after. ‘My pancreas is hopeless – so the rest of me may as well be too.’

The one thing that does come out of this all for me though is a renewed sense about what living with diabetes is all about. When I start to see the light and start to feel better about myself and, slowly, slowly, start to reintroduce my self-management tasks, I am able to refocus. I remember that the numbers which scared me and pointed to being a failure are just moments in time. I remember why I deserve to be well and look after myself.

Being able to identify triggers and then respond is a really useful tool in managing health conditions. It’s just finding a way to do that. BEFORE the trigger is pulled. Because no matter what John Lennon says, happiness is NOT a warm gun.

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