#DBlogWeek – A novel approach to discussing mental health

Diabetes and mental health – more specifically the connection between the two – fascinates me. I am excited. I am also concerned. Will I be able to have a narrow focus? Will I ramble on? Heck…will this post even make sense?!

The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.
~ Albert Camus

We all have rocks to roll. Blood glucose levels are one of mine.

By unfamiliar forces condemned, I roll this rock up the hill of perfection, only to fail…repeatedly.

Now I stand face to face with my own humanity.

Smacked by the futility of the task, consciousness of my predicament arises. Responsibility drops on my shoulders. The moment of decision has arrived.

A book of options is presented. I am free to look it over, free to choose.

Human agency makes its entrance.

My reaction is not predestined.

Inclined towards my habits, the familiar option is chosen. All others are ignored.

For one reason among many, with a spirit of adventure I’m filled, and I decide to forsake my habits. I choose a novel option.

Both of these paths I have traversed.

Which course will I follow?

————

Implicit herein lies most of the mental health difficulties I have faced whilst living with diabetes for the last 12 years.

I hope that some beams of light shine through as well.

————

In the past, I have described in greater specificity some of the psychological challenges that I have faced. In the future I will likely divulge more.

A broad approach for a broad topic. That is the approach I have taken here.

————

Update: I experienced diabetes-related anxiety after publishing this post, which you can read about here:
https://t1dme.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/speaking-of-diabetes-and-mental-health/

#DBlogWeek – If I could change the world…

Warning: This post is going to be hyperbolic at times.

Jean Paul-Sartre once said “hell is other people.” People with diabetes know this all too well. The tragedy of the situation is that it does not have to be that way.

Other people cause us hell when health insurance representatives try to make it difficult for us to receive medical technology that will improve our standards of living.

It does not have to be that way.

Other people cause us hell when when they decide to charge us 5-star prices for fast food quality test strips.

It does not have to be that way.

Other people cause us hell when they cast judgement upon us, sniping our self-esteem.

It does not have to be that way.

Other people cause the impatient among us hell when they play dumb after we have explained diabetes to them countless times.

It does not have to be that way.

Other people cause us hell when they trivialize or exaggerate diabetes.

It does not have to be that way.

Other people cause us hell when they act coldly…robotic…inhuman when we mention the unfair portion of BS that has been allotted to us.

It does not have to be that way.

Other people cause us hell by doing this… Other people cause us hell by doing that… Other people unnecessarily cause us hell in numerous ways. That is the underlying issue that I care most about.

This is unacceptable! This is inexcusable! This must stop!

As people with diabetes, we have enough to deal with as it is. I accept that. What I can’t accept is other people making things artificially difficult. Thankfully, things are changing.

Other people’s actions, occasionally, throw us into a pit. The actions of those in the Diabetes Online Community protect us from the pit, and pull those within out of it.

Our actions are our hope!

Savoring the present moment

Being hot and uncomfortable, yesterday’s post had a negative tinge. I had something to get off my chest. Today, however, is a new day.

Spring is a wonderful time of year. Mother Nature reincarnates right before our eyes. Yesterday, the fear of lows – which is due to my experiences last year – blinded me to this. Having written yesterday’s post, I can see nature anew.

I have to live in the present, and savor it. I should rejoice in the good things that are presently occurring. Why worry about what is to come? Why worry about low blood sugar? Why? Is there a point? What is the benefit?

I am not currently dealing with hypoglycemia. Diabetes is behaving. These moments are rare. These moments are enjoyable. I should savor them while they last.

Complaining about diabetes is okay. In fact, it can be beneficial. With that said, why complain when nothing is going wrong? Doing so can only cause harm. It can only make me miserable. It can only make me feel worse – unnecessarily. These are not my preferences.

There is a time and a place for everything.

I would do good to remember this. So would we all.

Summer (and hypoglycemia) is upon us

It is kind of hot today. Much hotter than I am currently accustomed to. It is 80 F to be exact. Excuse me if my writing isn’t quite as good as it typically is. I do not like the heat.

It would be no exaggeration to say that the impact that the heat has on my blood sugar is a major reason for me disliking the heat. It makes me go low…a lot.

My insulin sensitivity usually isn’t the greatest. Two things supercharge it: heat and exercise.

It is easier to plan ahead when it comes to exercise. It is easier for me to adjust my rates in accordance with my insulin needs. As for the heat…that’s a different story.

I live in New England. Maine, to be exact. This region of the US isn’t known for its predictable climate. To the contrary: our weather is insane. It is all over the place. It is unpredictable. It is much like my blood sugars 😉

I would be fine – or, at the very least, more accepting – if I didn’t have type 1 diabetes.

As it stands, I do have diabetes, which makes New England weather a pain in the ass to deal with.

It is only the heat that I have to struggle with though. The cold doesn’t have much of an impact.

Today is an exception: the heat hasn’t had much of an impact. Perhaps that’s because I woke up high. Who knows.

This, if you can’t tell, is a free write – hence its rambling character.

I am also tired and unfocused. That certainly impacts the overall quality of my writing, and not in a positive way

free write

For the next 10 minutes I will write without rest. I have no clue what I have brought on upon myself, nor do I know what will be the results. Into the unknown I leap.

I remember that it was in 8th grade that I learned this exercise. I hated it. Part of me was intreagued by it. It’s unpleasant. As a writer, you’re on eternal search for the “right word.” You look constantly for the perfect note to use in your masterpiece. Free writing destroys that – or attempts to.

It is a terrible treatment. It feels unnatural…forced…contrived. Initially.

After some practice – and that’s a gross understatement – taking this approach, or rather, this exercise becomes second nature. Although not truly free writing, my style of blogging is very similar. The difference: I do not usually force myself to write for a given period of time. Therefore, I am somewhat used to this.

This time, it is slightly different than usual. For this post, I am writing continuously for 10 minutes. Continuously blathering on. Continuously writing nonsense. Continuously writing words. Continuously this, continuously that. Rambling on and on. No end in sight.

I will stop. That is BS. I will try to stop.

As I jot down these rambling words, it is currently 5:20 pm. I have already published 1 blog post today, and have finished another. This is my second free write.

I am absolutely on fire. Creatively, that is. It’s actually annoying…annoying that sometimes I am productive as hell – whatever tha is supposed to mean – while other times it is nearly impossible for me to write.

The words flow

The words flow onwards, like the Amazon snakes its way through the lush rainforest. It flows on. They flow on. They flow on, but not as long. Thankfully!

Before writing this – a good 20 minutes before – I was low. Lows are great, aren’t they? No? Great! You’re sane!

My Blatant Hypocricy

I fancy myself wicked open-minded. At times, I even drift into the realm of the patently absurd, and honestly believe I am without prejudice.

HAHA
No! 

One thing I’ve learned is this: when it comes to ones self-perception, one is typically full of moose shit.

I am a human being, not a mountain. As a human being, I tend to fear, and am therefore prejudiced against, the unknown. I strive to keep this under control. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I apparently succeed.

Yesterday I failed. I am prejudiced against any non-Medtronic pump – a rather innocuous prejudice indeed.

What were the circumstances surrounding my epiphany?

My sister is looking into various pumps. One pump that caught her attention was the Omnipod. Requesting my input, I readily obliged. Lets just say my input wasn’t nonpartisan..

Acting in the capacity of a voluntary salesperson for Medtronic, I dissuaded her.

Why?

I do not know much about the Omnipod, and lack experience using it. I haven’t bothered doing any serious research into it either; however, I have heard a few horror stories, as well as stories of horror stories. Apparently that is all it takes to taint my judgement!

 

 

Me I My, My I Me, My I My, Me Me Me

Being lost frightens us. Being alone, more still.
Trav’ling the beaten path, you’ll find neither.

Upon the beaten path there lies
a congregation of bandits.
Guard your priceless treasure!

If at a certain point you’re lost,
Let your anxiety subside.
Breathe gently in the summer air,
And in the forest wander.

What was once torn apart has been conjoined.
Two friends have been united!

Stubborn lows at inopportune moments

THIS IS TYPE 1 DIABETES…

I was tired and wanted to go to bed. The problem: stubborn lows prevented me from going to bed.

————-

This happened twice last week.

Although these incidences were outwardly similar, my reactions were significantly different.

Whereas, during the first incident I reacted stoically, during the second I reacted with a cocktail of self-pity, anger, and other negative emotions. During the former, I felt no need to express myself; during the later, I felt the need to rant on twitter.

Despite reacting differently while they were happening, I felt the same way the day after. It is difficult for me to explain exactly how I felt, but it was not a bad feeling.

(I do not believe in taking a half-assed approach. Therefore, I am going to at least try to express how I felt…)

True…I felt tired; however, tiredness did not dominate.

I felt proud…a sense of accomplishment…triumphant.

Although I felt the same after each of these instances, my thoughts differed.

After the first incident, my diabetes-related thoughts centered around how I was emotionally impervious to the problems that diabetes had thrown at me the night before. I thought about how emotionally mature I was in handling it.

After the second incident, my diabetes-related thoughts centered around how, even when diabetes causes me to stumble, I will continue marching forward.

Context:

  • For the last few weeks I have been getting a decent amount of sleep (given my repeated “bouts” of insomnia, I often go through long periods of limited sleep);
  • My sister was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on April 1st;
  • I have recently been experiencing more hypoglycemia;
  • Since mid-April I have felt immensely proud of myself;
  • Generally speaking, I have felt pleased with my blood sugars;
  • I have not been exercising frequently;
  • I have not been meditating regularly;
  • have been reading quite a bit;
  • have been writing prolifically;
  • There have been no major sources of stress in my life recently;
  • I was not aware of feeling stressed out.

 

Intellectualizing Diabetes

Realization: I cope with type 1 diabetes by intellectualizing it. I still cannot look at diabetes as a mere disease. It has to be something “more”…

Examples:

I often reflect upon diabetes in a philosophical manner.

I often explore the psychological impact that diabetes has had on me.

I imagine that diabetes is an opponent, and try to out-strategize it.

At other times, I see it as being pertinent to my vocation.

Having realized this, I delved into my past.

Having delved into my past, I came to noticed this: when I interpret diabetes as something mundane, my focus tends to shift elsewhere.

I have discerned a pattern.

I only decide to dissipate mental energy thinking about diabetes when I recognize that it has a  “greater significance.”

All signs point in one direction. Thankfully, I am content with the destination.

Focusing predominantly upon the everyday realities of type 1 diabetes does me harm. Having realized this, I can now adapt in a more mindful manner.

————

To exist is to change; to live is to adapt.

At diagnosis, we were thrown into a new reality. More or less skillfully, we all adapt – each in our own way.

How does this apply to you?

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