D Blog Week 2017: What Brings Me Down

"Today let’s revist 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?"

Diabetes Blog Week was the first time I spoke properly about mental health on my blog. You can read that post here. I was absolutely terrified about posting that. I'm quite proud of 2015 Bec, but looking back it makes me laugh. Mostly because I was insistent that I hadn't experienced burnout or depression. Oh the denial. So it feels like coming full circle back to this prompt. Diabetes is by nature an emotional experience. Shifts in blood sugar change your mood. Sleep deprivation changes your mood. 

T1 is a chronic condition. It never goes away. It never gets better. Sometimes it gets worse. That is the shitty nature of a chronic condition. It's a chronic condition that comes with a host of complications that we all know about but don't like to talk about. We manage our condition with a short term and long term goal. Short term we want to feel okay and enjoy our days instead of being too low or too high. Long term we want to prevent our bodies from shutting down completely. I don't dwell too much on complications because I don't find it very motivating. 

I get down because I can't manage it perfectly. I get down because my will to manage it perfectly has faded lately. My anxiety disorder made me the "perfect patient", a concept I no longer believe in. I was so on top of my diabetes it was unbelievable. My sugars were excellent and everything was going to plan. Then I got depressed. Anxiety and depression at the same time is interesting. I see all the changes I could make to improve my health, but I can't get started on them. My brain then freaks out that I'm not doing these things perfectly. It pictures the worst case scenarios. It fills me with all of this adrenaline but then it runs into this brick wall. So it turns around and tells me off for being lazy. I'm stupid for not being on top of it. I'm useless. Why is it so hard to get up and manage your diabetes perfectly? Sure you check your sugar and you take your insulin, but why don't you basal test? Why don't you adjust your pump settings? Why don't you weigh your food and carb count properly so the doctors can actually see what settings to change? Why don't you eat enough? Why are you so stupid? How do you expect to be a healthcare professional and function in society when you can't do these things?

And so on. Upon reflection my brain sounds a bit like Gordon Ramsay, just the PG version.

I don't spend every day thinking like this. It doesn't actively enter my thoughts too much. But I can bring it up very easily. I think it's sitting there under the surface a lot of the time. It doesn't overtake my life though. I can look at that paragraph and tell you it's wrong. I still think it, but I know it's wrong. I know I'm doing the best I can in the moment I'm in. I know that there's more to me than my diabetes. I know I don't fail as a person because my diabetes management isn't perfect. Because it can't be perfect. Nothing can be perfect. Nothing will follow my ideal plans because life can't be planned (much to my annoyance). Knowing these things takes the edge off when my brain has a Gordon moment. 

So how do I know these things? I've spent 5 or 6 years learning and using CBT techniques. I've regularly seen psychologists. I write about it. I force myself out of bed and go on walks. Sometimes I'm not successful, but that's ok because then I try again the next day. I build support networks for myself so I don't feel alone with my ranting brain. 

I ask for help and I let people help me. We underestimate how hard it is to do that. The inclination is to just get on with it. It'll be right. No dramas. When someone says how are you we deflect back and focus on them. It's taken years and I still struggle with it, but letting people help is the best way to cope with something that needs more than one person to handle it. I'm so grateful that I have friends and family who love me. They didn't have to sign up for dealing with me, my t1 and my brain. But for some reason they do, and I'm thankful for it.

Check out what others had to say on the subject: http://www.bittersweetdiabetes.com/p/2017-participant-list.html
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Comments

  1. I just started CBD (first appointment) and I thrilled to work at it a bit. I do not know how it will work out. But I am excited. I have not suffered with anxiety, but have had crippling depression in prior times and have used therapy for many years to cope with the emotional side of chronic conditions. Thank you for your post today, it is great to know you feel CBD had been helpful.

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    1. Hmmm is CBT the same as CBD? whatever it is it sounds marvellous. Good on you Rick
      I'm so sorry you've experienced such awful depression. But here you are working on it.

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  2. Great post, really makes us realise how diabetes can cause so many other issues in our lives

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    1. Thanks, and yes it certainly does

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  3. Glad you're feeling better. Diabetes is tough (understatement!) and it's a pain in the butt.

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  4. My head is filled with those why not thoughts. At the moment, it's why can't I stick to something with a known carb count and not eat for another four hours so I can verify my carb ratio?

    You're doing the best you can, Bec, and that's all that matters!

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  5. your post almost made me cry, for the challenges and the help you are asking for. Gosh you describe what its like so beautifully!

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  6. So glad that days are better. This is such a huge challenge. I am glad that you are able to accept and receive help from friends and family.

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    1. Thanks Barb, I'm very thankful for my friends and family. It's tricky to handle all of that alone

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  7. I agree, the chronic part is the issue. I mean, we all have perfect management moments/days/times. It's the getting up and doing it all over again that can sometimes weigh on a person. I'm so glad you have a support network. As much as we like to think that we are islands, we very much need each other. Thank you for this post.

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    1. Couldn't have put it better myself. Thank you for reading!

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  8. A lot of this resonated with me, I've been thinking about going to a Dr for quite a while. Maybe I need to take the plunge... Thank you for such an honest post

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    1. I'm sorry to hear you feel it too. It took me quite a while to take the plunge too, but I've never looked back. I hope things are looking up really soon. Thanks for reading!

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