This week I am participating in the 7th annual Diabetes Blog Week. Each day there is a designated prompt that is meant to advocate about the different issues surrounding diabetes. Today's topic is mental health. 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?
When I was diagnosed with T1D, I was completely focused on the physical aspects of the condition. Learning to carb count and bolus using insulin injections, along with correcting for sporadic highs and lows took up all of my time. I honestly didn't have the time or the energy to worry at that point. But as time went on and caring for my diabetes became more 'normal', the mental and emotional effects became more obvious and really take their toll.
Now, 5.5 years in this journey I can honestly say that mental component of the condition is 100% more difficult than the physical aspects. Each day is filled with different emotions. Some days, I am just sad and do not want to get out of bed because all the extra tasks I must complete everyday. I miss the days when I did not have to worry about these things. But on other days I feel unstoppable and want to prove to everyone that people with T1D can do anything they set their minds to.
What I struggle with most is anxiety. Anxiety about highs and lows, bad A1Cs, and everything in between. Much of this anxiety stems from my Christmas eve incident when I went unconscious while sleeping due to a low bg of 33. Sometimes I lay in bed paralyzed with fear of it happening again, causing me not to sleep. Using a Dexcom cgm has helped me catch the lows and also removed the magnitude of my fear, yet it is always there is some capacity. In the future, I have dreams of getting a Diabetic Alert Dog to put me even more at ease.
Interacting with others with T1D has been another beneficial way for me to realize I am never alone in this crazy life with D. The online community has helped me from the start as I began to discover blogs and videos of others. Traveling to the CWD Friends for Life conference was also a big break through as I was able to actually meet and interact with others and knowing that their are others living the same life is indescribable and allows any fears to melt away.
A tip I would give to anyone that is living with T1D or any other chronic illness is to give yourself Permission to Miss Out (PTMO). If you are having a rough day and do not feel like doing anything but hiding in bed and watching Netflix that is ok. I am not saying it is acceptable to do this every single day, but every once in a while it is important to step back and take a breath. We are not super heroes and cannot be expected to do everything all the time. Managing Diabetes is a never ending job and a very tiring one. So, it is natural to need extra rest at times. And tomorrow is always a new day to go and conquer the world :)
My experiences with diabetes have led me realize just how much mental health plays into the lives of those living with Type 1 Diabetes and other chronic illnesses. That has sparked my interest in mental health counseling and I am very excited to begin my graduate studies this August, I am excited to begin this new journey and help others living with T1D learn ways to cope with the ups and downs of this disease and make the most of every moment!