Claire Kearns

@she_writes | contributor
I love writing, being creative and hearing other people's stories. A dreamer, often with my head up in the clouds or thoughts drifting away somewhere. Favourite season is autumn and I am a night owl by nature. Other interests include reading, history, feminism and cats. I am invested in rmental health and type 1 diabetes advocacy, particularly in relation to the dual condition of type 1 diabetes and an eating disorder. My guests to to a hypothetical dinner party scenario would include Tori Amos, Regina Spektor, and I'd raise Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf from the dead. Cheese would certainly be on the menu, everything is better with cheese.
Community Voices

Who am I?

<p>Who am I?</p>
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Claire Kearns

Imagine What It’s Like Living With Type 1 Diabetes

Imagine feeling like a human pin cushion from pricking yourself to test blood sugars. I can go through 10 glucose strips in a day sometimes; yep, I am “hardcore!” My fingers are so punctured with little black dots that, after some time, can start to scab over and peel away. Imagine having to inject yourself or take a bolus via insulin pump whenever you want to eat. Imagine the dedication that requires. It’s easier than you might think to forget it one morning before a rushed breakfast or fret over whether you might have done it twice in a temporary (perhaps fried-brain induced) lapse in memory. Imagine the comments fired at you on a regular basis, words that can sting no matter how inaccurate you know they may be. The stigma, the ignorance, the resulting sense of shame. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked if my diabetes was caused by me, or brought on because I eat too many sweets as a child or eat the wrong foods. Imagine the paraphernalia you need to remember to take out with you whenever you go out. Needles and insulin pens, or spare pump cannulas. Blood meter, hypo treatment, ketone machine or ketostix, any additional medication. Small, glitzy evening bags are not practical for someone with diabetes, but I’ve managed to cram as much as I can into one anyway, and usually ended up forgetting or even losing something essential. I have actually forgotten insulin and testing equipment on too many occasions. Imagine the loneliness among peers, the feeling different and out of place or disconnected. The burden of worry you cause others. The feeling of being incontinent during drunken nights out or parties when you need to keep checking your sugar levels to stay safe. Imagine not being able to eat anything new without scanning the nutritional information and noting the carbohydrate content in order to calculate how much insulin you need. Oh yes, it’s hard not to notice the calories and fat amounts. Imagine feeling emotionally and physically drained some days, the hypos that seem to keep repeating after you’ve had one. The high sugars that just won’t seem to budge and leave you feeling useless as a dead thing laying on the sofa Imagine the very real complications of type 1 diabetes that can be devastating and debilitating. Retinopathy, gastroparesis, nephropathy, neuropathy, to name just a few. Your body fails you constantly. Imagine the guilt you might feel for causing such problems, for not being a “good diabetic.” The truth is that achieving perfection in the control of diabetes is as rare as spotting a swarm of flying elephants. Still, that guilt it there. Imagine never feeling completely free. Never being able to pause, or ignore type 1 diabetes  without ramification. The more you try to deny and forget it, the more damaging and ultimately fatal — if left untreated in the long term — it can be. 4,000 people In the U.K. go through at least some of every single day, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Just consider that. Think of us, think of anyone you know of with type 1 diabetes. Pause for just a moment with that thought. To everyone sitting in the same boat as me: you are here and doing this. You are alive and fighting. Keep going, and know you are stronger than you think, and braver than you might admit.

Claire Kearns

Realize the Reality of Mental Illness Before Saying Suicide Is Selfish

After every death by suicide or misadventure comes an onslaught of familiar comments. Mostly well-meaning and kind-hearted comments, but ones that also make me want to scream. Lately, too many of these such losses have been quite close to home. The first, around a month ago was one link away via mutual friends who were left devastated, with circumstances that resonated a little too much. The second was quite close to heart and I am still struggling to comprehend it. The third most recently made the news of my small, local hometown. All of them have me poignant somewhat numb, and extremely sad. All of them were individuals who seem precious and have left a space, an ache. Everyone reacts differently to shock and grief. No way of trying to cope, adjust or regroup is “wrong” or anything to be ashamed of under the circumstances. But there are some people who will understand the pull of mental illness, and some who just cannot. There is no fault here, but I want to offer some words of clarity. Words I feel the need to say. The truth is depression does not care if you are young and full of promise and potential. It does not consider you have so much more to experience in life or that throwing your future away is “ such a tragic waste.” Neither will it grasp that you have money, a good job, a loving family or privilege over others. Debilitating anxiety cannot rationalize that things can pass and get better, that those moments of sheer terror will not overwhelm you. It will not comprehend there are good sources of help to be found, sources of valuable support and health professionals willing to listen. Eating disorders are blind to the concept of existing without starving or harming yourself in an attempt to shrink. At their worst, they will not allow you to see you you deserve anything more but that constant misery. Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder or diabulimia: they all have the potential to diminish your sense of worth to dust and stomp all over it. When mental illness is at its most unrelenting and ferocious, it simply does not give a shit about anything besides a destruction, whether that be a way to cope or an end goal. It will take any opportunity it can to knock you over, and with every swing and punch you fall further down, further away, until you’re left with a bashed-up broken brain that cannot think straight. I can see how it can get to the point where someone can feel like they’ve no other option, no strength left to fight. That is not a sign of being flawed or any kind of weakness. Rather, it is the full-force impact of defeated by something too powerful and suffocating, like a lump of coal clogging your throat. Most of all, a message to the people who don’t understand: suicide is not “stupid” or selfish or ungrateful. Those views are vile and completely ignorant. Also, media sources: please take note that in this age describing suicide or attempted suicide with the damnation of “commit” is unacceptable, as it is no longer a criminal offense and has not been classed as such since 1961. To the aforementioned: you are not that person, you have no right to pass judgment on them. You likely have not stood where they have or seen or thought what they have. In essence, what it essentially comes down to is that severe mental illness can blot out facts like thickly-splodged Tipp-Ex over errors in a letter. It’s a fucking parasite of a thing to have to battle. Some do it every single day, and it can hurt like hell. If you are one of those people, then try to hold on with the tightest grip you can, and try to remember despite the creeping, dark shadows and the trailing whispers or smoke, you are not doing it alone.

Claire Kearns

Imagine What It’s Like Living With Type 1 Diabetes

Imagine feeling like a human pin cushion from pricking yourself to test blood sugars. I can go through 10 glucose strips in a day sometimes; yep, I am “hardcore!” My fingers are so punctured with little black dots that, after some time, can start to scab over and peel away. Imagine having to inject yourself or take a bolus via insulin pump whenever you want to eat. Imagine the dedication that requires. It’s easier than you might think to forget it one morning before a rushed breakfast or fret over whether you might have done it twice in a temporary (perhaps fried-brain induced) lapse in memory. Imagine the comments fired at you on a regular basis, words that can sting no matter how inaccurate you know they may be. The stigma, the ignorance, the resulting sense of shame. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked if my diabetes was caused by me, or brought on because I eat too many sweets as a child or eat the wrong foods. Imagine the paraphernalia you need to remember to take out with you whenever you go out. Needles and insulin pens, or spare pump cannulas. Blood meter, hypo treatment, ketone machine or ketostix, any additional medication. Small, glitzy evening bags are not practical for someone with diabetes, but I’ve managed to cram as much as I can into one anyway, and usually ended up forgetting or even losing something essential. I have actually forgotten insulin and testing equipment on too many occasions. Imagine the loneliness among peers, the feeling different and out of place or disconnected. The burden of worry you cause others. The feeling of being incontinent during drunken nights out or parties when you need to keep checking your sugar levels to stay safe. Imagine not being able to eat anything new without scanning the nutritional information and noting the carbohydrate content in order to calculate how much insulin you need. Oh yes, it’s hard not to notice the calories and fat amounts. Imagine feeling emotionally and physically drained some days, the hypos that seem to keep repeating after you’ve had one. The high sugars that just won’t seem to budge and leave you feeling useless as a dead thing laying on the sofa Imagine the very real complications of type 1 diabetes that can be devastating and debilitating. Retinopathy, gastroparesis, nephropathy, neuropathy, to name just a few. Your body fails you constantly. Imagine the guilt you might feel for causing such problems, for not being a “good diabetic.” The truth is that achieving perfection in the control of diabetes is as rare as spotting a swarm of flying elephants. Still, that guilt it there. Imagine never feeling completely free. Never being able to pause, or ignore type 1 diabetes  without ramification. The more you try to deny and forget it, the more damaging and ultimately fatal — if left untreated in the long term — it can be. 4,000 people In the U.K. go through at least some of every single day, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Just consider that. Think of us, think of anyone you know of with type 1 diabetes. Pause for just a moment with that thought. To everyone sitting in the same boat as me: you are here and doing this. You are alive and fighting. Keep going, and know you are stronger than you think, and braver than you might admit.

Claire Kearns

Imagine What It’s Like Living With Type 1 Diabetes

Imagine feeling like a human pin cushion from pricking yourself to test blood sugars. I can go through 10 glucose strips in a day sometimes; yep, I am “hardcore!” My fingers are so punctured with little black dots that, after some time, can start to scab over and peel away. Imagine having to inject yourself or take a bolus via insulin pump whenever you want to eat. Imagine the dedication that requires. It’s easier than you might think to forget it one morning before a rushed breakfast or fret over whether you might have done it twice in a temporary (perhaps fried-brain induced) lapse in memory. Imagine the comments fired at you on a regular basis, words that can sting no matter how inaccurate you know they may be. The stigma, the ignorance, the resulting sense of shame. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked if my diabetes was caused by me, or brought on because I eat too many sweets as a child or eat the wrong foods. Imagine the paraphernalia you need to remember to take out with you whenever you go out. Needles and insulin pens, or spare pump cannulas. Blood meter, hypo treatment, ketone machine or ketostix, any additional medication. Small, glitzy evening bags are not practical for someone with diabetes, but I’ve managed to cram as much as I can into one anyway, and usually ended up forgetting or even losing something essential. I have actually forgotten insulin and testing equipment on too many occasions. Imagine the loneliness among peers, the feeling different and out of place or disconnected. The burden of worry you cause others. The feeling of being incontinent during drunken nights out or parties when you need to keep checking your sugar levels to stay safe. Imagine not being able to eat anything new without scanning the nutritional information and noting the carbohydrate content in order to calculate how much insulin you need. Oh yes, it’s hard not to notice the calories and fat amounts. Imagine feeling emotionally and physically drained some days, the hypos that seem to keep repeating after you’ve had one. The high sugars that just won’t seem to budge and leave you feeling useless as a dead thing laying on the sofa Imagine the very real complications of type 1 diabetes that can be devastating and debilitating. Retinopathy, gastroparesis, nephropathy, neuropathy, to name just a few. Your body fails you constantly. Imagine the guilt you might feel for causing such problems, for not being a “good diabetic.” The truth is that achieving perfection in the control of diabetes is as rare as spotting a swarm of flying elephants. Still, that guilt it there. Imagine never feeling completely free. Never being able to pause, or ignore type 1 diabetes  without ramification. The more you try to deny and forget it, the more damaging and ultimately fatal — if left untreated in the long term — it can be. 4,000 people In the U.K. go through at least some of every single day, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Just consider that. Think of us, think of anyone you know of with type 1 diabetes. Pause for just a moment with that thought. To everyone sitting in the same boat as me: you are here and doing this. You are alive and fighting. Keep going, and know you are stronger than you think, and braver than you might admit.

Claire Kearns

Imagine What It’s Like Living With Type 1 Diabetes

Imagine feeling like a human pin cushion from pricking yourself to test blood sugars. I can go through 10 glucose strips in a day sometimes; yep, I am “hardcore!” My fingers are so punctured with little black dots that, after some time, can start to scab over and peel away. Imagine having to inject yourself or take a bolus via insulin pump whenever you want to eat. Imagine the dedication that requires. It’s easier than you might think to forget it one morning before a rushed breakfast or fret over whether you might have done it twice in a temporary (perhaps fried-brain induced) lapse in memory. Imagine the comments fired at you on a regular basis, words that can sting no matter how inaccurate you know they may be. The stigma, the ignorance, the resulting sense of shame. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked if my diabetes was caused by me, or brought on because I eat too many sweets as a child or eat the wrong foods. Imagine the paraphernalia you need to remember to take out with you whenever you go out. Needles and insulin pens, or spare pump cannulas. Blood meter, hypo treatment, ketone machine or ketostix, any additional medication. Small, glitzy evening bags are not practical for someone with diabetes, but I’ve managed to cram as much as I can into one anyway, and usually ended up forgetting or even losing something essential. I have actually forgotten insulin and testing equipment on too many occasions. Imagine the loneliness among peers, the feeling different and out of place or disconnected. The burden of worry you cause others. The feeling of being incontinent during drunken nights out or parties when you need to keep checking your sugar levels to stay safe. Imagine not being able to eat anything new without scanning the nutritional information and noting the carbohydrate content in order to calculate how much insulin you need. Oh yes, it’s hard not to notice the calories and fat amounts. Imagine feeling emotionally and physically drained some days, the hypos that seem to keep repeating after you’ve had one. The high sugars that just won’t seem to budge and leave you feeling useless as a dead thing laying on the sofa Imagine the very real complications of type 1 diabetes that can be devastating and debilitating. Retinopathy, gastroparesis, nephropathy, neuropathy, to name just a few. Your body fails you constantly. Imagine the guilt you might feel for causing such problems, for not being a “good diabetic.” The truth is that achieving perfection in the control of diabetes is as rare as spotting a swarm of flying elephants. Still, that guilt it there. Imagine never feeling completely free. Never being able to pause, or ignore type 1 diabetes  without ramification. The more you try to deny and forget it, the more damaging and ultimately fatal — if left untreated in the long term — it can be. 4,000 people In the U.K. go through at least some of every single day, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Just consider that. Think of us, think of anyone you know of with type 1 diabetes. Pause for just a moment with that thought. To everyone sitting in the same boat as me: you are here and doing this. You are alive and fighting. Keep going, and know you are stronger than you think, and braver than you might admit.

Community Voices

What’s one thing that’s on your mind today? #thursdaythoughts

<p>What’s one thing that’s on your mind today? <a class="tm-topic-link ugc-topic" title="thursdaythoughts" href="/topic/thursdaythoughts/" data-id="5c37a4c0d7f72800c91caf80" data-name="thursdaythoughts" aria-label="hashtag thursdaythoughts">#thursdaythoughts</a></p>
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Community Voices

Favorite quote and/or poem?

<p>Favorite quote and/or poem?</p>
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Community Voices

How do you remake your life when it's feels meaningless? #Depression #anxoety #MentalHealth #ChronicIllness #EatingDisorders #Anorexia

My life has revolved around my illness for far too long and I don't want to lose myself. I'm still in there somewhere. I've become very isolated and my days are spent engaging in eating disordered behaviours or preparing for them, or sleeping because I can't sit with my head for 5 minutes.

I love my friends but met the majority of them in treatment services or online support sources. I can only think of a couple that don't share that link.

So, how do you rebuild a life and find things to live for when your world has been reduced to attending to your eating disorder and mental health issues?

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