Topic: May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope? (Thanks go out to Scott of Strangely Diabetic for coordinating this topic.)
The social worker in me, and what I stand for is literally doing back-flips over this post- although I cannot even do a cartwheel- where did the gymnast/dancer in me go? The fact that mental health is usually that thing hiding in the world’s closet because no one really wants to talk about. The world says it isn’t okay to talk about it or not be okay.
But we all have bad days, we all have sad days- we also have exhilarating days, happy days, adventurous days.
But the world says be quiet. Some say others have it worse than you. Get over it.
Really? That’s okay to say to someone? Who could be having a rough day? a rough time? a mental health concern?
I firmly believe that everyone’s “worse” is their worse, and it is unacceptable to compare, to downplay. Don’t judge. Stop. Listen. Be there.
mental health and illness/disability is something we shouldn’t dance around and ignore. I am so glad that the world is changing on this, slowly- but change is change. Insurance companies are starting to recognize the importance of mental health- and not just giving a pill- but therapy too. I hear about endos giving prescriptions/referrals to patients, not just endos though, for therapy or counseling (easier for insurance to cover it) because they recognize the importance of the interaction of mental health and diabetes. Diabetes can impact mental health, and your mental health can impact your Diabetes- sticky situation right?
The world forgets there is another side to Diabetes, to illnesses and disabilities, not just medical, not just insurance- emotional and mental too.
But this doesn’t just apply to Diabetes- so much more.
For me- it gets emotional on two levels- a personal level and a micro/macro level.
Those moments leading to and after a diagnosis.
Regardless of type- You or your child are/is sick- and often you’re BEGGING for a doctor to listen- to not shrug their shoulders and ignore you- to not say you’re overreacting. I don’t remember everything- but the stress can be excruciating. You against the world right?
and regardless of type- After your diagnosis- hearing the words “You have Diabetes”– for me- it was shouted in the lab for all to hear. Where was social worker in this instance? To calmly explain what was going on. Those words literally “rock” your world. A whole new lifestyle awaits. A whole new worry arrives. So much to learn. So much paperwork. So much math.
But the world doesn’t really acknowledge that do they? They start handing you cookbooks to cure your Diabetes. They blame parents. They offer, often, ill-advised advice on a relative’s Diabetes. They judge you. They tell you no more sweets again. They tell you consequences. The world also tries to show you successful people living with Diabetes- do I have to be a statistic? I don’t want to be famous. I don’t want to be an athlete. Don’t get me wrong- they’re great and all- but where are the females successfully living Diabetes- I’d like to hear from them. Where are those who aren’t athletes? The performers, the actors/actresses, the business professionals? I want to hear from them too.
Very rarely, have I heard the world pause. Be silent for a moment- and ask- “are you okay emotionally?” “anything I can do?” “Do you need anything?” “How do you feel about this?” “can I learn with you?”
I am guilty of this too- I get excited and want to share information and tell them everything will be okay- but is that what people want to hear?
and when I hear about kids getting bullied or told they are faking its- struggling for basic right- it shakes me too. I want to fight for them. I want to speak out for them- but it’s a great big world. and it’ll be little steps at a time. Change- it takes time.
Now for the personal.
It isn’t a certain instance. It is an accumulation- the straw that breaks the camels’ back right?
I tend to stay very busy- often I leave my apartment by 8 or 9AM, sometimes earlier- and I don’t stop moving until 9PM. Especially next school year.
I schedule when I take a breath. So I believe part of me is always on edge- so all I need is a straw.
That straw? Well it’s usually the combination or a Diabetes “mishap” and a comment (accidental or on purpose).
Usually, I warn the world when I am this point. So if I do get “crossed” and I snap- I don’t feel terrible about it. It takes me a lot to snap- so if you are able to do that- be warned.
Those moments when no matter what I do my blood sugars don’t want to cooperate with me maybe because that’s how the wind is blowing- maybe a site went bad- maybe a faulty part- whatever the cause- I feel like I am fighting an endless battle, and now matter what I can’t win.
So I’m on edge- struggling to do my usual (why I don’t procrastinate) and keep up with life, and get what I need to get done- done.
Then someone makes a comment
“Diabetes is your fault.”
“Diabetes isn’t a big deal- it’s manageable”
“Insulin is a conspiracy” All about this on “Don’t Touch Me”
-plus other comments. That I would usually take the opportunity to educate or explain- I snap.
Those are the times there is an emotional side at least for me. The outside world is usually my problem. I try to take it in stride- I try to educate with kindness. and clearly explain- but some people cannot be changed- some people will not listen. Everyone knows it all right?
The social worker in me- and a future advocate, well current I guess, feels this is so important. this- meaning mental health.
Love, Words, Inspiration, and Insulin! -Until next time! and until there’s a cure!
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