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? (Thanks go out to Scott of Strangely Diabetic for coordinating this topic.)
- Simply go to the restroom if you need to pee even if it’s more than 10 times a day or even if you wake up in the middle of the night. It’s easy to bear.
- Simply quit sodas and foods with high sugar content to keep your blood glucose at normal level. Simple.
What we do not realize is that these thoughts of simplicity will soon backfire. Because, no matter what we do, Diabetes is a serious illness that will slowly eat into our system one way or another.
It’s the mentality of most newly diagnosed especially if there were no major symptoms prior to diagnosis. We think this is a normal and logical response but, in actuality, we’re already entering the denial phase.
There are many stages of the mental health of a diabetic. But, I think the most difficult one is the “denial” phase. Most new diabetics have been eating horribly for many years. To be diagnosed a diabetic all of a sudden, and change their ways overnight is a huge challenge for many people…including myself. After being diagnosed, I have been in different levels of denial.
Just like some people, I flat out lived life as it had been before—no blood sugar testing, no exercise, eating horribly. No change at all. Complete denial. The mentality is that if I don’t acknowledge it, then it doesn’t exist.
Some people really understand they have a problem but since the bad side effects of diabetes don’t surface for many years, these people may quit drinking full sugar soda or slow down on desserts. Other than that, they do not do much else. I was aware that I was unhealthy, weighing over 360 pounds and all so, I made some little lifestyle adjustments that in the end did not suffice.
Testing my blood sugar regularly was a chore. Besides that, I don’t check for fear of seeing the truth. The truth gives back a scary stare as you stoop down in despair. And then, all I could do is pretend that I was putting the effort out to change when in fact, I didn’t actually do enough to manage diabetes.
Some people are very aware of what Diabetes will do to them over their lifetime. These people put a good effort out but still fall into the same traps as a non-diabetic. They follow certain diet programs and try to lose weight, succumb to food temptations, and do not mind having an inactive lifestyle.
All these bad habits mess everything up and keep them from their goals. Even though these people are not in extreme denial, they are in denial of what it takes to actually manage diabetes properly. These people may delay the negative effects of Diabetes, but in the end, Diabetes will win.
Everybody has a different way to manage their diabetes. I was in all the above levels of denial at some point after being diagnosed. I chose an extreme route by having gastric bypass surgery.