Day 2 of Diabetes Blog Week- The Other Half of Diabetes – Tuesday 5/17 (AKA mental health!!)
We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant. How does diabetes affect you or your loved one mentally or emotionally? How have you learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition? Any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas to share on getting out of a diabetes funk? (If you are a caregiver to a person with diabetes, write about yourself or your loved one or both!)
Oh HEYYYYY! Mental Health! Heck yes! I’m sure there’s no surprise I would be excited about this topic, right?
That first sentence- “We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant.” It is just as significant, and yet- we barely talk about it on a regular basis- and yet- health insurance doesn’t always or easily pay for it- and yet it isn’t an automatic part of care…. Hmmm….
So- How does diabetes affect me mentally and emotionally?
The “short” answer is yes and all the time and vice versa and no and I’m still figuring that out.
Diabetes is a constant. Mental Health is a constant. They’re both taboo.
I know that my BG impacts my mental health.
I know that diabetes impacts my mental health.
I know that my mental health impacts my diabetes.
I also know that sometimes they have no connection or impact.
But here’s the thing- I’m sure the impact that is thought about is all negative- it can definitely be negative or annoying or upsetting or frustrating- but it isn’t always this way- I wouldn’t necessarily say positive (kind of), but it’s taught me A LOT.
There’s always a spectrum and it changes day to day.
BG impacting my mental health- usually negatively….
When my blood sugar is high, I HAVE to check my blood sugar EVERY 20 minutes because of my OCD- even with the CGM giving me a number every 5 minutes. (Yes- you are right- my relationship is complicated with my CGM).
Also, when I’m high, my anxiety goes THROUGH the roof, but it’s a combo of anxiety and also being upset (kind of like when you are on your period and upset- oh wait. Let’s add diabetes and mental health to your period- FUN!).
When I’m low, I get more scattered and chatty and a different kind of anxious. I also get pretty defiant as well. I don’t want to sit down. I don’t want to eat.
If my BG is off, I’m just not so nice. A BG roller coaster- oh boy- ALL of the emotions. And missing sleep because of BG’s- that impacts the mental health too.
But then there’s the diabetes impact on my mental health- this is where things get complicated.
On the more negative side- diabetes is exhausting. And like that annoying fly you just cant quite kill or catch that won’t leave no matter how many times you open the door. Then there’s also the logistics. The guilt. The bullying and hurt feelings. The fear. The annoyance. The relationships.
Then there’s the impact of mental health on my diabetes. This is also complicated.
On the more negative side- if I get anxious or stressed- my BG’s rise and I’m more resistant to insulin. If I get SUPER relaxed- especially during yoga where my brain stops going a million miles a minute, I go low and am super sensitive to insulin.
Then if I cry. My BG is going to spike- but the question is will I need insulin? Or will I bottom out later- but that all depends on so many other things.
But then there’s also the aspect of trying when it comes to diabetes- the frustration of doing the same thing or knowing you did it all right- and you get different results and go out of target. WTF diabetes.
Now- if I’m treating myself- guess what? I don’t get as upset. But if I do it right or I try or for whatever reason it’s just not working- I go a little nuts.
Sometimes- in the back of mind… I can hear the words “I’m failing” or “not good enough.” Because what I did- didn’t work. I have to try and push those words out of my head and escape those feelings. Remind myself- I’m kicking ass!
Before I get to the “positives” then there are times when my BG and mental health don’t really interact. Sometimes if I get a little anxious, nothing really happens. Sometimes if my bg is out of target, it really doesn’t get at my anxiety (quite as much).
But guess what? Diabetes and mental health taught me a lot. (wait still teaching me a lot!)
The combo of the two together and during burnout, led me to get really behind the importance of self-care and trying to be more honest. It led me to embrace the idea that the positive and the negative parts need to be intertwined together because that’s life.
It’s taught me resiliency, to pay attention to my body, to know things change, persistence, strength, etc etc. and it’s giving me the family I found. (I could go on).
So- How have I learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition?
Well- I mean- I’ve learned ways, but things are always changing. There’s always more to learn. I might think I have it figured out, but then things change. Or I might learn something along the way. Or all of the work I have done in the past comes together.
But for me? The biggest things I have learned over my lifetime, and especially the last 2ish years when I’ve tried to be more honest and take care of my mental health are:
- I’m not good at vocalizing my emotions out loud- thank goodness for writing!
- Writing about your feelings or past events or your thoughts or a combo- is SO healing!! It really is good for you.
- Be honest- at least with yourself. Not being honest with myself and the outside world is what threw me into diabetes burnout. I would only talk about the positive. I would only acknowledge the positive. That’s when it all really hit for me.
- Being able to acknowledge the positive and the negative in diabetes and mental health, but also life– has done WONDERS for so many aspects of my life. I often feel that the world wants us to pick positive or negative- and that’s not life. For me, it is KEY to be able to bring the two together- hand in hand if you will. Sometimes you need to say “I’m a diabadass!” and sometimes you need to cry and then scream “Diabetes sucks!”
- Sometimes, looking into therapy is a good idea.
- SELF-CARE IS YOUR FRIEND.
- Try to love yourself where you are now- it is easier said than done! (Post to come)
- Be open to change and what works at one point might not always work.
- Sometimes, Diabetes needs to take a backseat- because of life and that’s okay. College, death in the family, finances, etc. Honestly…. what would anyone expect?
- It is important that I have a healthcare care provider I feel comfortable with.
Do I have any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas for getting out of a diabetes funk?
Well- I LOVE quotes!! I have a pinterest board. I have quotes on my body. I post pictures throughout the week with photos and a quote on instagram. quotes EVERYWHERE!
But in terms of a diabetes funk or any funk?
- Lean on the people in your life that truly care about you.
- Treat yourself. You do you. Self-care. Etc
- And finally- let yourself feel it. Let yourself be upset. Pushing it back or ignoring it doesn’t do well- trust me! Being in a funk, or in burnout, or in distress, or etc etc- doesn’t mean you are failing. Doesn’t mean you gave up. Doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. Doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to be loved. Doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to feel.
This barely scratches the surface because there is so much to life, and I’m only 23- I know things will change, and I’ll have more experiences along the way.
Hey you! Yes, you!
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