I’m Still Here

Hi everyone.

It’s been a while. Too long, in fact.

For the past few months year or so, I’ve bounced around different ways to phrase portions of this blog post. I’ve debated how to address the relative disappearing act this blog has performed. I’ve thought a lot about what this absence means, and why it’s happening. I’ve wondered if this blog serves a purpose beyond reminding me of the diabetes (and patient) advocate I once was. I’ve feared facing the emotions that have kept me from engaging this empty draft and the blinking cursor that taunts me.

A lot of what I’ve been dealing with, or at least what I think I’ve been dealing with, has nothing to do with diabetes, or this blog. As I try to make sense of this, whether or not I write anything here is of little consequence. Honestly, I’m using this blog as an opportunity to deflect. It’s not about this blog. But, this blog sure does make for a great metaphor, representing the hesitation and self doubt I’ve been battling.

The weird thing is, it’s not like I’ve gone away. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. I’m still around.

I’ve got three podcasts now. You remember Just Talking? That’s still going. Then there’s 2 Big Topics, my monthly pop culture chat with my longtime friend and podcasting mentor, Parris Lilly. And just a few months ago I started a new show with my sister called Mark All That Apply where we discuss topics related to identity and race from our perspectives as multiracial siblings. I’ve certainly got a lot to say. And it’s not like I’m lacking platforms to share my thoughts and opinions.

My Disease Secret is still a thing. Anonymous submissions from the diabetes, chronic pain, cystic fibrosis, IBD, lupus, mental health, multiple sclerosis, sleep disorder, arthritis, and cancer communities have a home for the people that need to share. Sure, some communities are more active than others, but I still read every secret that is submitted.

And earlier this month I joined Tidepool as their Community Manager. This position feels like a culmination of ideas and opportunities in my patient advocacy journey that started when I attended Stanford Medicine X for the first time in 2012. Being part of this team, and this mission is humbling and inspiring and I’m beyond excited to share what we’ve got planned for the diabetes community.

And yet, despite all that’s happening, I feel incomplete. All of those links don’t really mean much when I come back to a basic question: How am I? I’m not sure.

There’s something else nagging me. There are words and phrases I’m afraid to confront, determined to avoid, and hopeful to move past.

I don’t know what I’m going to do about all of this. I’m not sure what I can do.

But I’ll keep plugging along until I figure it out.

Image (linked) via gipy.com

According to the revision history of this post, I started writing everything above that line on March 30, 2017, and came back to it again in late April. And now it’s November. I’ve debated whether it’s worth publishing what I wrote. I’ve reread it a few times since it last sat in a draft status, wondering what it all means. I think I’m afraid to admit the source of everything above that line might have been depression or some similarly unsettling reality. Admitting your flaws is tough. Admitting flaws like that is something else entirely.

As previously mentioned, I continue to wonder what to make of this online space I carved out for myself, unsure if it’ll ever feel like home again. I would love to find a new path forward for whatever it is I do best. I think the patient advocacy portion of my brain functions best when I try to address challenging topics in more than an image caption or 140 280 character tweets. But I feel a lot of resistance to change.

I don’t think the answer is officially saying goodbye to this space, and registering a new URL. I think that would do a disservice to the growth I’ve had since I started writing about my diabetes. Once I sort of figured out who I was (or who I was supposed to be), I was comfortable with the pivot away from “all diabetes, all the time”. Maybe an informal rebranding is in order. There have never been any rules etched in stone dictating how I use this space, and there’s no need to deviate away from that approach now. But I think a new tagline may be in order. Something along the lines of “patient advocacy viewed through the lens of my diabetes”…

I think I can work with that.

I can’t promise when I will be back, but I will promise to not give up on all of this. There’s plenty more for me to do, I just have to focus.


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