Oops, I’m a little behind in getting this post written! But, better late than never…
Today let’s revisit a prompt from 2014 – 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?
When I think of the emotional toll that diabetes takes on me, the simplest example pops into mind. For me, each and every blood glucose test (of which I average about 10 per day) provides an emotional response of some sort. If my blood sugar is “good” – meaning in range between 80 mg/dl and 160 mg/dl, then I’m pleased. If it’s “really good” – somewhere between 90 mg/dl and 130 mg/dl, I’ll feel a bit of pride and satisfaction, as in “I’ve got this!”
On the other hand, high blood sugars get me down. They make me feel defeated and slightly guilty for not having either made different food choices, calculated a more accurate bolus, or generally not managing my blood sugar “correctly.” When I experience a string of high blood sugar, the emotional response is more pronounced. I’ve often had the experience of noticing I’m feeling down, and when I check in on my emotions to wonder why, I’ll recall “Oh, that’s right, my blood sugars have been running high.”
For the most part, I haven’t ever rebelled against this disease or wondered “why me?” I took up the perspective my parents instilled, that this disease would make me strong and capable. I’ve had my periods of burnout, of course, but on the whole I’ve taken blood sugar management as a goal to achieve. Also, I figure the food restrictions I’ve embraced are just what all healthy diets should consist of, so I don’t feel unduly deprived. When I was pregnant and on a very strict diet, I loved it! Something about the control and achieving those “good” blood sugars on my logs felt like getting little gold stars all the time.
I think it’s funny – having diabetes itself isn’t what gets me down, but having a blood sugar of 225 mg/dl can put me in a funk for a couple hours.