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Why I'm Writing a Book About What It's Like to Grow Up With Chronic Illness

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The teen years are hard. Going through your teen years with a chronic illness like diabetes can be even harder for everyone involved – both the teen and the parents. There is so much going on when you’re growing up, even before you add in the factor of chronic illness. But it’s oversimplifying to say the teen years are hard, that they are rebelling. Yes, maybe this is the case, but often there is so much more going on in life.


Because of hormones, diabetes became more of a roller coaster for me in my teens and it became more of a roller coaster for everyone around me. Because the frontal lobe still developing in teens, they may be forgetful, make poor or “interesting” choices, have more apparent attitudes, become defiant, are still working on the ability to recognize and understand when emotions comes into play and more. This all adds up.

It’s of course not fun for the teen, but at least for me, I felt like no one cared about me anymore because I was no longer the “cute kid with diabetes.” I was an angsty teen with diabetes who had different needs. Then it’s not fun for the people in your life, especially your parents or caregivers. But a lot of the world and the healthcare community overgeneralizes, points fingers, tells you to just wait it out, etc. But that’s seven years of missed opportunities and the possibilities of physical, mental and emotional damage.

mindy bartleson

You’re told it gets better.

Yes. It does. But it takes time. It can suck in the moment, but we just get told it gets better. I think as adults, we can forget what it’s like. That’s why many teens don’t relate (well, at least I didn’t) to adults. The rose-colored glasses become way too strong for adults. We forget it can suck for teens, and maybe they just need us to admit it. We forget it’s important to balance the positive and negative so we can still get through it.

When I was 22, I saw this happening to my perspectives on experiences. I was applying a rose-colored lens to a lot of things in my life already. I was starting to say all the bad things I went through were worth it or just ignored them completely. But that’s not life, especially in the moment.

I’ve always wanted to be an author, but to be perfectly honest, I never saw myself writing a nonfiction book, one about my experience with chronic illness and mental health. However, I did just that. I did that with the goal to finish all of the content before I turned 24 last fall so that rose-colored glasses didn’t impact all of my views on my experiences. I’m aiming to balance the positives and the negatives of growing up in general, but also with chronic illness and mental health along for the ride.

coming of age with chronic illness and mental health book

I’m pursuing self-publishing and crowdfunding this project.

I’ve always wanted to be an author, but I always daydreamed and aspired to write fiction. I actually never planned on starting a blog (look at me now!) either. I’m chasing this dream and aiming to make it a reality – with a few twists.

Mindy is self-publishing an honest book about growing up with chronic illness and mental health. To help this book get published, you can visit the crowdfunding page to learn more, back her project and help spread the word. You can also follow Mindy on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and her blog, “There’s More to the Story.

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Originally published: August 27, 2017
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