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!)
When I was diagnosed, it was extremely surprising. I was pretty old for T1D, didn’t know the symptoms, didn’t really know anything about it. I told a lot of people immediately (a decision I sort of came to regret) and got a ton of different reactions.
I think my favorite one was from someone who mentored me during the school year leading up to diagnosis. It hadn’t been an easy year, in a grad program where I wasn’t happy, realizing that my career goal of teaching college wasn’t going to work out. She’d seen me in some pretty sad days.
When I told her how hard T1D had been so far, she said, “But you’re so resilient.” She didn’t say it the way people say stuff like “You can do it!” or “You’re so brave to poke yourself with a needle every day!” She said it like it was a fact she was reminding me of. That I had always mana ged to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Diabetes wouldn’t be any different.
I think that’s true, but this disease still takes a huge toll on me mentally. I’m constantly doing math and worrying and checking my CGM and believing or not believing it and guessing and worrying some more.
I’ve got some perfectionist tendencies, and that does not go so well with diabetes. It does keep me from going out of control most of the time, but it also makes me feel like even my biggest accomplishments get maybe 30 seconds of celebration before I have to be back at it.
For someone who needs to feel like she’s in control and good at things all the time, diabetes is a huge challenge. I’m having to learn for maybe the millionth time that I’m not in control of everything in the universe, that sometimes bad things happen even when you do everything right, and that mistakes don’t make me a bad person.
Diabetes gives me constant numerical scores every day that make me feel like I‘m being graded, like I can pass or fail. And somehow along the way, I associated passing with being a good person and failing with being a bad one. I can’t tell if diabetes is reinforcing this or helping challenge it. Maybe both.
I hope that I’ll learn to deal with it more as time goes on. Diabetes is the focus of a lot of my anxiety, but hopefully I’ll come to a point where I feel comfortable living in maintenance mode. I’d like the option for diabetes to just be in the background some days, and I’m getting a whole lot closer to that happening.