Hello my social distancing friends. Writing this to you from the comfort of my own home and not a coffee shop. It feels v. off, but I am making do.
I am excited to announce that this weeks post is the second interview session of the year! I usually prepare people for that at the end of the previous blog, but the last Wednesday of March came so quickly. That’s right… next Wednesday is April 1. Sorry if that is shocking news to you; it was shocking to me when I found out. Had to do some deep breathing when I realized I had three days to write this interview post, when I typically give myself a couple weeks. Honestly though, what else am I doing in this social distancing time anyways?
What I am doing is A LOT of FaceTiming, so it worked out quite well for this weeks interview consider she is a friend, previous roomie, and someone I often call when I am on any sort of lock down, whether it be governor mandated or depression suggestions. Madeline Raube, for those of you that don’t know, is an aspiring broadway singer/actress with talent radiating from her. Her voice is so beautiful, the birds return the song, as if we are in some Cinderella movie. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’ve literally witness it first hand.
My favorite thing about Madeline though, is getting to see her how best friends usually get to see each other- no make-up, hair thrown up into a bun, old t-shirt and sweatpants being the optimal clothing choices. In public Madeline is a star. Her outfits are always ready to meet an up and coming director, her makeup is subtle, yet, pristine, and her hair has a beautiful bounce to the curly red locks. In her profession “all the worlds a stage” is not just a quote from William Shakespeare. This is why I love getting to see the behind the scenes, the raw person. Because even without the make-up and hair and outfits she is still this person that is shining, even if she doesn’t always see that. That part though, we will get too later.
The interview started off a bit different this week, seeing how the world is a bit different this week.
“Tell me about your quarantine experience,” I asked.
“My quarantine experience has been okay,” she smirks, “I’ve only had two breakdowns so far, this week. None of us have privacy and we’re all cooped up inside, so it just makes me feel depressed sometimes, so it’s rough, but, you know, it could be a lot worse.”
Madeline isn’t just social distancing, she is in full-on lock down. Madeline is diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes, which is at the heart of our interview today. This is something that she has lived with for most of her life and in today’s pandemic it makes her vulnerable.
“What story are you hoping to tell today,” I digressed.
She took a deep breath, as if to remind her body that she is safe. “I had a hard time thinking of, like, a specific story. Um, like the biggest thing that popped into my mind was just my experience with my diabetes.” Madeline, as mentioned earlier, has Type-1 Diabetes described by mayoclinic.org as “a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.”
She continued by saying, “that’s usually what triggers my anxiety or like it’s the biggest thing in my life that causes me personal emotional problems. So, um, and the thing is like I have so many stories about my experience with it that it’s hard to nail down one.”
Her words, which are often concise and clear, began to have words like “like” and “um” mixed into them. I could tell she was nervous, but the kind of nervous that felt brave, as if parachuting out of an airplane or entering your 1st audition room. It’s those moment where you know the afterwards will feel great, but your brain is still like “B**ch, are you nuts?” She kept going though, breathing through the fear with confidence.
She then began to discuss her career. What it is like to have diabetes in the world of acting and how hard she tries to hide it from the people deciding if they will give her a shot or not. I wanted to know what would happen if they did know before hand. Would she be denied roles due to her diagnosis?
“I mean, I don’t know,” she answered “but it might sway them and [they] could say ‘you know it’d be easier to hire someone who doesn’t have this versus someone who does’ because it’s be easier to put their contract together or be easier to work with them. [I mean] they encourage people with disabilities to audition. Um, I mean someone just this past year won a Tony [award] and she has been in a wheelchair all of her life, so, I mean, it’s possible but it’s also not fully evolved yet.”
She discussed the visible ways she can’t hide her diabetes. Madeline wears a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) on her arm (as pictured it the featured image). She talked about the giant bandaid that she covers it with and wonders what casting directors are thinking when they see it. She mentions the looks she gets with faces that scream “what happened to her arm?” and how vulnerable that can feel, even without any words being exchanged. Madeline has two instagram pages for this very reason- one for her singing and the other for her “secret diabetic life” as she terms it.
Madeline has only recently started being more open with her diagnosis, so even having a public platform for it at all has been a huge step in her life to breaking down walls and ending stigma. I know how scary that can be, putting your private life into the public eye. I remember binge eating after I posted my first blog. Terrified of the response I would get.
I wanted to know, “now that it’s in the public spotlight are there things you’re still kind of nervous to put out there?”
“I’m definitely holding back [from things]. I used to keep my diabetes a big secret from people, so now I am just sharing little by little and going slow… I would just try to hide it at all costs. I would hide my insulin pump, check my blood sugar under a table so no one would see. I was really ashamed and embarrassed of having this disease. So, me sharing on social media is actually pretty new. It’s almost therapeutic in a way because I am learning how to find my voice and kind of share what it’s like. And actually, people are interested,” she said entirely surprised. “I didn’t think they would be.”
“So, for my interviews, I like to do stories that maybe a lot of people don’t know about you… Is there a part of this you haven’t shared yet, that you want to discuss today?”
“Yeah, so I guess the thing that I haven’t ever really talked about, which is related to diabetes is just body image with diabetes. There are times where you to eat food, even when you don’t want to, because it keeps you alive.” I could tell that her breathing was getting faster and she looked up to the ceiling more often as we started this topic. She was being vulnerable and brave and I could feel myself holding her energy. Wanting to tell her it’s okay, but she was releasing and I left the space for her to keep going. “And like, there have been times where I have almost like neglected giving myself the food because of that. Just almost as a way of like punishment, or like the opposite, where I would binge eat… And then just the component of having to constantly prick my skin and inject needles. Like, I have a lot of bruising on my body and a lot of scar tissue. I just have a lot that’s always on my body. I’m really self conscious of it.”
She talked about the struggle of dating and how “awkward” it can be to say “hold on, let me just take some blood out of my finger” in the middle of dinner. We both laughed, imagining the conversation to be one of deep intellect only to be paused by a need for blood. Vampire vibes, really. Then our laughter slowed as she expressed that she’s had some bad experiences. She talk about a guy that put his arm around her waist and he could feel her insulin pump. “He didn’t know what it was because I wasn’t telling him I was diabetic. And he was like what is this and I was like ‘oh, nothing. Don’t worry about it, it’s nothing. It’s just my phone’ and then my phone was sitting on the table in front of us. So, then I had to tell him and his response was ‘What? So, you’re part robot?” and from then on he wanted nothing to do with me.” She talked about her desire to feel sexy and beautiful and a hope to not feel tied down by what she was wearing on her body, and then to hear her be called a robot by someone she liked felt as though she had been punched in the gut.
I could feel my own anger bubbling up inside of me. HOW DARE A PERSON MAKE MY FRIEND FEEL ANY LESS THAN BEAUTIFUL AND SEXY AND AMAZING. I could only imagine how she was feeling in that moment. She made a point to recognize that not everyone is like that, though. How she has met people in her life that have made her feel exceptional. She also mentioned that she is currently single, so fellas, if you interested I’ve got a keeper for ya.
We then discussed the cruel fate of an anxious brain. 100 comments saying you’re beautiful and all you need is one to send you down the self-hatred spiral. Those negative comments are what leads to food restriction and over-exercising and binging.
“When I would hear comments like that I would think to myself ‘okay, so that is weird for them to look at so I need to work out a lot so that at least my body looks really amazing. Just like, maybe they won’t notice the things on my body if I am in incredible shape. I would just go the totally wrong direction to compensate.”
I found myself lost as we were talking. I was Madelines roommate for two years. We didn’t just share an apartment, we shared a room. Even being so incredibly close these are things I never picked up on. I didn’t notice the over compensating, but as she spoke it was clear that it was there the whole time. I know I have said this before, but this is what I love most about these interviews. Even people that I have known in a deep way have pieces of themselves that they have hidden away. I get to learn more about their vulnerable sides. The things that even in a drunken stupor, eating Artichoke Pizza on the kitchen floor, are kept secret.
“Now,” she continued “I’m not in that space, which is good.” Her journey to get here though was long. She was first diagnosed in 4th grade where her whole class was informed, she had to go to the nurses offices every few hours to get a shot, and she felt different from everybody else right off the bat. Very self-conscious and scared are the two words I would use to describe the beginning of my journey.”
“You mentioned you aren’t in that space any more. What helped you get here?”
She said what I always love to hear from people “for the most part, therapy.” I could hear me give a sigh of relief in the recording of the interview. Every time someone I care about tells me they are in therapy, I can feel a weight lift off of my shoulders. Not because it was my burden by any means, but to know they have a safe space and to know they are talking about how they are feeling, at least an hour a week, its give me peace of mind. I mean, I still worry about the people I love, pretty much all the time, but t to know someone else is there for them helps. I know what can happen when we keep those things inside. It can get ugly, real quick. “I talk about this a lot in therapy. Like I’ve told her how I have worked out till it hurts, and my therapist was like ‘uhm, no. Don’t do that.’ It just helps to have support and to hear I don’t have to do that.” She also talked about the amount of support she has received from her family and friends, without whom this she wouldn’t be where she is today.
As we know though, just because we aren’t in a certain space anymore doesn’t mean we are free and clear of any negative thoughts. Madeline shared how she’s found peace in knowing that her body is forever changing and she doesn’t need to beat her body up because of that. Although she still get’s angry, and rightfully so.
“It comes in waves. Recently I’ve been angry with it just because I feel like I can’t control it sometimes, or I’m doing my best and it isn’t working. A lot of it is out of my control.” Not being in control is hard to accept, for anyone. (Hello pandemic). Madeline though, believes this is all part of her journey to acceptance and to her real end goal of being a spokesperson for this disease.
“It feels like a calling.. I feel like I’m finding my voice and other people are able to relate to this so like I kind of can’t wait until I’m able to fully own this so that I can really speak about it from the perspective of like ‘yeah, this is what it is and its really difficult but you can get through this. Like, that’s it. I wish I had someone tell me that when I was in fourth grade.”
I asked her to go bigger with her dream, delete the limitations.
She’s starring in Wicked playing the role of Glinda. She is able to share her story and inspire others. She has not only become empowered, but she has empowered others just like her to reach for the stars. Feeling no shame or stigma as she talks about every aspect that comes along with Type-1 Diabetes. That is her dream.
“If you were talking to somebody that had diabetes now or has a different disease that feels really vulnerable, but also open and scary, what advice would you give them?
“Number one, you are not alone because everyone is going through something. And it’s really difficult right now, but one day you will be able to take back control and no matter what anybody says about you, you are beautiful, with the disease that you have. That is the truth. That’s what I would tell my younger self, my younger little Madeline. That’s what I would tell myself now.”
Little does Madeline know that with those words she is already stepping towards her dream. One day she will be inspiring millions of people from a platform so large and powerful. I can’t wait to see this for her and for all the people who need to hear her words.
A[wo]men & Madeline Raube
or out in the open
out in the open
-what we all go through