I fear going low. My blood sugar was 215 an hour or two ago – perhaps three. Now it is 132, which seems great. I assure you, it isn’t!
I have noticed this before…my blood sugar dropping elicits fear. I do not want last year to repeat itself. I don’t want to go low every fucking day all summer! That is no way to live on earth. It is befitting of hell…
I fear that I will get burned out again, just like last year. I fear that I will have to repeat the difficult process of overcoming diabetes burnout. I fear this… I fear that… I am anxious.
I dread…Dread…DREAD summer.
Lows elicit anxiety. The thought of lows elicits anxiety.
Although I don’t enjoy this inescapable vulnerability, I, in a sense, accept it. I accept that this is how I feel. I am not – not right now at least – running from myself. It is what it is, even if what is sucks.
It is one thing to feel this way, quite another to let it master you.
Do you know why diabetes sucks? It can make you feel helpless. You feel like a child. Vulnerable. At the mercy of chance. Awful. Weak. Unraveled.
Writing this post has been cathartic. Hopefully, in the long term, it will help assuage some of my diabetes related fears.
I can feel this way… I can admit to feeling this way… But I need to, for my own well being, remember to keep soldiering on.
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.
My sister is angry about being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Do you remember being angry when you were diagnosed?
I assume it’s a common reaction. Assumptions – although necessary at times – are often incorrect. Therefore, I’m testing that assumption of mine.
As for myself, I don’t recall being angry – not initially. I do remember being in denial a week after being discharged from the hospital. That didn’t last.
Stone cold reality refuted my delusion of having complete pancreatic functionality. I soon accepted the circumstances I found myself in, and went with the flow.
At some point I began fighting against the current.
Loneliness. Alienation. That’s what I remember feeling early on. Perhaps those emotions morphed into anger. That’s just speculation though.
I am certain that I did go through a period where I was extremely angry. Most of this anger was due to school though – at least, that is what I attributed it to.
Having spent the majority of my school career with undiagnosed ADHD, I chronically fell (woefully) short of my own expectations – in addition to the expectations of others. My potential remained untapped. Teachers constantly reminded me of that fact. In a word, I struggled.
Naturally, I was angry.
Why was I struggling in school?! What was wrong with me? Why had I fallen through the cracks of the system for so long?! Why don’t administrators and teachers care about helping students who are in the greatest need of help? These were my thoughts…
In retrospect, I can see how these thoughts catalyzed my anger. I can also see how my type 1 diabetes might have aggravated the situation I found myself in. Again, this is speculation.
I communicated my emotions only on rare occasions. These instances were the exception, not the rule.
The causes of my lack of communication were numerous, not the least of which being the inherent difficulty of expressing one’s emotions. Perhaps diabetes compounded this difficulty.
As I mentioned earlier, diabetes made me feel alienated. Describing what it’s like living with this chronic disease is futile. The communication gap cannot be bridged completely.
You are marooned on a barren island. Whether you survive is – at least in part – in your hands. Will you adapt to your environment or will you let your environment destroy you? The answer is in your hands.
Amidst a sea of uncertainty, one thing’s for sure: you are alone in your struggles.
Nobody else understands what it is like having to go through life with diabetes. Nobody else can understand.
This is how I felt. I feel this way no more.
Anger, left unchecked, will destroy you. This realization – although seemingly insignificant at the time – was a turning point. It led me to seek change.
In order to mitigate my anger (and other counterproductive emotions) I began:
practicing mindfulness meditation;
exercising (there were other reasons as well);
writing as a form of therapy;
absorbing myself in music
This is what I can think of off the top of my head.
These practices have enriched my life.
My anger has subsided.
I have come to learn that negative circumstances are transitory.
I have realized that there are positives and negatives to all situations. The world doesn’t exist in black and white.
A month ago I was testing 2-3 time a day. On most days, my numbers remained above 200 all day, and I’d often see at least 1 number over 300. Numbers in the 400s – which had formerly been rare – happened almost every week.
Fast forward to this month. I’ve been testing 6-10 times a day. On most days, my numbers remain above 200 for most of the days, but I’m starting to see due some decent numbers. Numbers in the 400s – which been all too common a month ago – are now non-existent. Improvements have been made.
Being a pessimist, I’m adept at seeing the negative aspects of any situation. In my present situation, I could easily choose to focus on the fact that my blood sugars still remain, on average, higher than what I’d like to see.
Although I could choose to see my present situation through tinted glasses, I have decided not to. To interpret my situation in a negative manner would do me no good.
It’s essential that I keep things in perspective. Although my blood glucose readings are important, they’re not what’s most important to me. Of far greater significance to me is the fact that I’m testing my blood sugar frequently.
My current blood glucose readings are irrelevant to me, so long as I’m in the habit of frequently testing my blood sugar. Although, by itself, it won’t have a major impact on the extent to which I have my diabetes under control, it will form a firm foundation for me as I continue to recover from diabetes burnout.