Total Health and Wellness with T1D

February 13, 2019
Dorian Medley
Howard University
Dorian Medley was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005 at age nine. She entered Howard University on a pre-med track in 2014 and started the CDN HU Chapter in the fall of 2015. She successfully graduated with her BS in Biology this past December, and she is currently planning a future career in naturopathic medicine and environmental sustainability.

Over the past 1-2 years, I began a true quest for total health and wellness. After discovering holistic health and the “mind-body-spirit connection,” I learned that the mind, body, and spirit (or soul) are in perfect conjunction with each other and that all three aspects equally contribute to both our wellness and disease. Throughout my childhood, I was kind of familiar with mental wellness; I practiced thinking and speaking joyful thoughts and words, and I tried to catch myself when negativity got the best of me. I also practiced religion for the entirety of my youth, so I thought I was pretty good on the spiritual side too; I would pray, read affirming scriptures, and treat people with love and kindness. Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age nine took a hit to my physical health (and my mental health as well), but I worked to manage it properly.

Fast forward to the past 1-2 years, and it turns out that I really had wayyy much more to learn about my mental, physical, and spiritual health than I originally thought (with some emotional and psychological health intertwined in there too)!

I will share with you a sample of questions that I have spent, and still spend, time pondering on for the sake of getting closer to total health:
Physical health

Honestly, how does my body feel? Do I listen to these feelings and respond with love, or do I ignore them? Are my habits healthy or unhealthy? Do I feel in control of my diabetes? Why or why not?

  • Mental health

What is my passion, my purpose? What am I holding in? Why have I held these things in for so long? Do I want to let them go? Why and how? How do I feel about having diabetes? What have my loved ones said about my condition? How have they acted towards it? How did that make me feel? Do I really have to live like this forever? Ok, if not, then what do I have to do to break this cycle, to heal? Am I strong enough to do that? Do I have to do it alone? Who will help me?

  • Spiritual health

How do I feel about having diabetes? Why do I feel like I’m stuck in a cycle? Why do my emotions flare up in regards to the struggles of diabetes? Do I deserve this? What is my passion, my purpose? What is God trying to tell me? Honestly, am I ignoring or not owning up to something? Running or hiding from something? What…and why? Am I scared, angry, confused? Who has tried to help me? Why did I push them away? Am I ready to stand up to whatever is holding me back? How?? Who will help me?

“I believe this introspection is key for anyone and everyone to gauge the true level of their total health and wellness.”

I take whatever time I need to deeply and HONESTLY reflect on these questions, many of which are emotional, uncomfortable, and/or downright painful to think about (and even worse, be HONEST about). But, I believe this introspection is key for anyone and everyone to gauge the true level of their total health and wellness. I came across a quote the other day while writing this post: “Pay close attention to whatever triggers reactions from you – your triggers reveal the spot where an ancient pain is still buried,” by Luna & Sol. This quote describes how the process of introspection is often difficult; we ignore certain questions/thoughts over the years because they are uncomfortable/ultra-painful/confusing to think about. But once I started to face these thoughts, and in turn face some deep fears, I gained clarity about some personal situations and some choices that I knew I needed to make. I gained courage to actually make those choices and rise to certain challenges. I gained peace from the whirlwind of emotions I used to experience and peace with the direction I am now headed in. I gained the tools to total health and wellness!

“I apply this new clarity and courage to many areas of my life, including managing T1D.”

Paying attention to my deep and dark thoughts (some of which seemingly had nothing whatsoever to do with diabetes) gave me clarity and courage. I offer one last quote: “I am not looking to escape my darkness, I am learning to love myself there,” by Rune Lazuli. I apply this new clarity and courage to many areas of my life, including managing T1D. Lastly, if you are willing to do some deep self-reflecting, it will help if you have someone you trust to help you along the process. But don’t change your mind if you think you have no one around! If you are willing, then at least take a few first steps, and I’m sure that you will receive the help that you need.

A couple articles on the “mind-body-spirit” connection:

Quotes from:

Interested in reading more about this topic?