I’ve been less present on social media and the blog lately, partly as a way of protecting myself, and, partly because I’ve been working hard across July on my YA novel, Sailing The Spaces In Between, which has been submitted to the Hardie Grant Ampersand Prize. Now, I await to see if I make the cut or not, in late October. If not, off to publishers it will go!
Meanwhile, I’m well into writing my memoir about my life with type 1 diabetes and chronic illness in general. My agent is preparing to send the first chapters to publishers, which is an exciting time! It’s not easy, writing your own story and opening up, knowing people will be reading your words. But it’s been a very powerful experience so far, understanding what I’m comfortable sharing and what I would rather keep to myself. Writing a memoir is a tricky exercise in determining which parts of your life fit with the particular narrative. It’s not your entire life, it’s the threads that connect to the heart of the story. For me, this is about my life with chronic illness and diabetes in particular.
I continue writing every day, to bring my story to life, sharing some very traumatic and very wonderful experiences. From my gentle childhood, to the awful bullying I experienced, to my chaotic adolescence, the violent relationship I fell into, how I escaped, eventually fell in love, the PTSD I experienced through my work as a social worker, my recovery, the birth of my three lovely children, founding a groundbreaking online diabetes counselling service, to my current days as an author, living in an uncertain world, I weave in the ways diabetes infiltrates everything…
Starting when I was 5 years old, it’s the story about how these things shaped me as a person, how I struggled and how I triumphed. It’s about the fact that all of our lives are rainbows, filled with light and shade. It chronicles my experiences with chronic illnesses, sex, drugs, rock and roll and insulin, falling in love, dealing with anxiety, PTSD and depression, and making a life. It shows that diabetes is just one part of the whole that makes me who I am, that we all make mistakes, and that everyone deserves love.
More than 300 people are being diagnosed with diabetes each day in Australia, and people with diabetes experience more than twice the rates of depression and anxiety, with enormous personal and social costs. I’m hopeful that my memoir will offer people with diabetes a sense of recognition, connection and optimism. I’m hopeful that if you have diabetes, that you might see something in my words that makes a difference to your own journey. I’m hopeful that you’ll see life with diabetes in all of its raw, unedited forms, but also, that life can be brilliant and exciting and wonderful.
If you don’t have diabetes, then I’m hopeful you’ll gain some understanding of what life is like for those of us who do and that it will simply be a cracking good read! I’m hopeful you might stop making and laughing at donut memes about diabetes…and that you might share some of your new understanding with others. And perhaps, you might just recognise something of yourself within the pages, because after all, we’re all human beings, doing the best we can, whatever comes, on this complicated, wonderful, unpredictable journey, relying on the surety of the sunrise each new day, living a life, on this beautiful blue planet.
Stay tuned! Helen x