It’s day 4 and blog week is almost over. Thanks for reading! Today’s topic is about mental health and the emotional impact of diabetes:
Today let’s revisit a prompt from 2014 - 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?
My emotions around T1 have evolved since I was diagnosed 3 years ago. Until around this time last year my reactions could be intense. Highs and lows, especially sudden extreme lows, made me crazy. I was angry, in tears and saying “I hate this!” when things didn’t go the way I wanted. Somewhere last spring that changed. It wasn’t a conscious decision or something I was aware of when it happened. As months went by I just realized I wasn’t having that kind of reaction anymore. Why? I’m not entirely sure.
What do I think? Largely that I’ve acclimated to life with Type 1. The shock has worn off, I’ve made adjustments over days and months to how I manage my disease, and it’s just gotten easier. Not easy, but easier. Acceptance took some time, but here I am. Now when I hear someone describe T1 as “a nightmare” I’m inclined to feel like maybe they’re overstating things. Not that this isn’t a dangerous, scary full time disease – it is and I certainly never forget that. But it’s doable and something I’m thriving with.
That said, I worry even more over time about the reactions and emotions of the people who love me. My “people” hate it whenever I mention that I recently read about another death in the T1 community. While this is my reality it’s a shock to people like my parents to be reminded that this could all end in a way that none of us want to see. A friend who is a breast cancer survivor has pointed out several times that illness is often harder on everyone else than it is on the person who is sick. I think we’ve reached that point in my T1 experience. I’m good with it, while the people who love me continue to be shocked and scared by the possibilities. I only wish I could make it easier for them, and hope that reading my blog and seeing me do well with T1D and with the rest of my life help a little bit. This helps me, too. Blogging isn’t only about helping other people understand my disease; telling my story is a kind of therapy for me.
Does all of this mean I’m always 100% thrilled and happy with my T1 life? Not at all. I get burned out sometimes with the constant management and the ever-present reminders about T1. Something as small as giving myself a shot can bring an “ugh” just because there are so very many of them every day and I'd really like to be done with this. Like most people with T1 I’ve been known to “rage bolus” when my sugar refuses to come down for no reason. That always lets me extend my frustration when my sugar later comes crashing down as a result. Sometimes on the weekend when I’m spending several hours in the kitchen cooking the week’s meals, I’m jealous of the friends I know are relaxing and enjoying the time off. It can approach bitterness once in a while, I won’t deny that. But I make the choice to do it, too. So I remind myself that it’s a decision I’m making for me, and that helps. You always hear that happiness is a choice. I didn’t choose to get Type 1, and if I got to vote I’d give it back in a millisecond. But I can also choose to be happy and diabetic at the same time. Anything else wouldn’t really work for me.
Some great diabetes bloggers from around the world share their thoughts on mental health here.
Are you coming late to my blog party this week? Find the first 3 posts below.