Why All the Drama?

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Have you noticed how people need drama in their lives? If they don’t have anything to worry about, they create something. People with diabetes don’t have to create. Diabetes brings plenty of drama. But is drama good or bad? If it’s bad, how can we get rid of it?

Why do people pull for drama in their lives? Drama is defined by Google as “an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances.” So drama makes our lives more interesting. If we’re bored or we feel there’s no point, having some excitement and emotion might pick our lives up a bit.

Did you ever wonder why Oprah Winfrey’s weight went up and down so dramatically, so often, in public with all kinds of media attention? Her fight with weight was her story — it personalized her, made her more sympathetic and lovable.

It seems a lot of people in our culture, especially women, have weight for the drama. A Gallup Poll found that 56% of Americans want to lose weight. Many people cycle through weight loss and regain time after time. Is the drama — the emotional highs of loss and lows of regain — driving some of this unhealthy behavior?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) has supplied me with drama for over 30 years. Every morning I wake up wondering, “Will I be able to get out of bed today?” What a relief when I can actually stand up!

Like diabetes, MS makes one worry about the future. When I have some good days, I wonder if I might be getting better. Bad days scare me and depress me.

As a result, I can stop worrying about things like my children’s behaviors, my ability to pay bills, my attractiveness to women, or whatever. Lately, I’ve started a couple of programs to try to get better. There’s some science to them, but they’re not medical. If they work, I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, they give me a whole new drama to act out.

Actually, most life problems pale compared to health status. If you check your glucose, you have your daily dose of drama right there. If their blood glucose, A1C, or neuropathy is worse, people tend to feel bad about their lives. And if their numbers are down, all is right with the world.

Either way, you can tell everyone else’s problems to take a flying leap. You’ve got more important things to worry about. At least, that’s one purpose drama can serve.

Drama also helps by distracting us. If life is too scary or too painful, we can distract ourselves with drama, real or manufactured. Our dramas can distract us from fears of death, of the future, of feelings of failure, loneliness, and things like that.

The downsides of drama are obvious. It’s stressful. It can raise your blood pressure and interfere with sleep. It can pull you away from other things that might be more important. It can make it hard to pay attention to others, and thus hurt relationships with them.

Other dramas
Not everyone relies on body dramas like weight and health. If you have a troubled child or other relative, you can lose yourself in worrying about them and trying to help. Some people try to help almost anyone in need, whether they can actually help or not. We’re playing roles in somebody else’s drama and distracting ourselves from our own pain.

Other people, including me, spend a lot of time with the dramas of things happening in the world, such as wars and environmental disasters like global warming. Not sure what benefit I get out of those dramas. They mostly make me depressed, but I’m still drawn to them.

If we didn’t have our various dramas, would we be bored? Would anxiety about death and the meaning of life creep in and make us miserable? Or would be happier, more present, and more effective? What would life be like without drama?

I’m betting that less drama will be good. I think I’m going to make this a priority for 2014, to let go of drama in my life. Try to accept; try to meditate. Things will still happen, but I hope not to worry about them as much.

I would like some advice from you, though. Has diabetes brought drama to your life? How do you feel about that, and what do you do about it?

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