Dealing with Anger About Diabetes

There used to be times when I’d become very mad about diabetes.

So angry in fact, that I’d want to reach within my body and tear out my futile pancreas so as to Hulk Smash it to a wall.

Being diagnosed as a young kid, my rebellious teenage years were not all rosy so far as diabetes control was worried, and I spent most of those adolescent and early adult years being mad I had type 1…

Obviously, it wasn’t a productive time in my entire life, and I have a whole lot of regrets about not managing my emotions and mental condition better back then.

Here we are 20 years later, and those feelings of extreme anger and denial (and the corresponding depression) are few and far between, as I’ve come to embrace my diabetes for the most part.

However, I understand that the feelings are still there, lurking. While I am not nearly as likely to Get My Hulk On when it comes to diabetes Nowadays, I have spent a while of late exploring the anger inside me, and even parsing out different kinds.      

Anger Management Thoughts

This all came crashing in lately when we received an email pitch about an anger management coach who is publishing a new publication that hones in on anger as it pertains to those people living with chronic conditions, like diabetes! One Dr. Bernard Golden in Chicago is a psychotherapist focused on beating harmful anger, and he is seemingly tapped into meditation, visualization, self-reflection, and anger-logging (?) To create a “breakthrough” method to achieve “healthy anger and self-control.”

The very idea of that professional speciality makes me smile, as it brings to mind scenes in the 2003 film Anger Managementwith Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson.

We often ignore pitches of this sort, but this one hit home because it taps into the “mental health and diabetes” umbrella that really does deserve more attention — beyond the fundamental resources offered by this ADA, Joslin Diabetes Center, DiabetesNet, Mayo Clinic, and so on.

Here’s what Dr. Golden (seriously, what a name!) Must say:

“An identification of chronic illness often triggers anger, as do the numerous challenges which confront us in managing our own conditions. People with diabetes tend to be especially prone to experiencing anger, due to fluctuating blood sugar levels which could result in mood swings, which makes them vulnerable. Anger can damage our relationships, and human connection is essential to our health and well-being.”

Uh huh. No kidding. Anyone who is endured high blood glucose or the glucoasters that mess with our minds know this firsthand.

He goes on to say “Cultivating ‘healthy anger’ entails learning how to pause and reflect on what we’re experiencing, rather than react to it. ‘Healthy anger’ was shown to enhance our endurance and total well-being. And it empowers us because it fuels assertive (rather than aggressive) communication, which improves our success in attaining our goals and fulfilling our wants and desires.”

While it might sound like a small crock, I really think this Dr. Golden has a point. I have found that stepping back and reflecting in my diabetes anger is precisely what I want to do occasionally — without dwelling for long, needless to say.

Eight Kinds of Diabetes AngerGrrrrr Diabetes

When I am at the boiling point of D-anger, the last thing I truly feel like doing is slamming on the brakes and . However, without being so dramatic, I have learned to step back and distance from whatever’s drawing my ire right now. That might mean playing with the puppy, tackling some outdoorsy yard work cleaning the house or washing dishes.

Through time, I’ve also started trying to categorize my anger as a way to better deal with my diabetes feelings and figure out what can or can not be achieved to mellow out. I’ve found there are 8 Chief variations of my D-Anger:

  1. My Own Worst Critic Is… Yep, it’s me. Many people living the pancreatically-challenged sort of lifestyle tend to judge ourselves pretty harshly when diabetes does not play along. When it is a high or low blood sugar or A1C, we unite people “good” and “bad” feelings to the numbers. Sometimes, I get mad at myself for not carb-counting correctly or dosing insulin at the right time, or for perusing the number of BG checks done in a specific day. These feelings of self-loathing would be the most straightforward and fundamental D-anger feelings for me, and they are the ones I can really do something about.
  2. Yo, Diabetes Cops: You know the type. Those people who can not quit asking questions (“Would you eat that?”) Or insist on offering all kinds of information (“attempt cinnamon!”) According to their perceptions about diabetes. These can be frustrating and annoying, but 99% of these D-Police are only trying to help. They have great intentions, and that I find it best to either avoid responding or grin and nod. Directing anger at them isn’t worth the effort, the majority of the time.
  3. Lows and Highs: OK, this is all a category on its own. When my blood sugar falls or goes sky high, my emotions go along for the ride. Often I lose the ability to maintain my senses and remain calm. Every little thing sets me off, and I snap at people around me for all from the query “Are you OK?” To simple everyday things that normally do not rub me the wrong way. Obviously, staying in scope and getting back to tighter control is the best way to avoid these moments, but when they do happen they are usually accompanied by guilt and apologies for people on the receiving end of my D-anger.
  4. Fear of the Unknown: This really is among the roughest, IMHO. Diabetes complications are scary. The fear of hypos is real and can be crippling, prompting you to maintain your BGs higher, thereby depriving future unknown complications for the sake of waking up living. No matter how much I attempt to maintain a positive attitude and outlook, these fears are constantly lurking in my thoughts. And occasionally, after a series of annoying D-moments and doubt about fuzzy vision or painful neuropathy in the feet, I can not help but get very scared and depressed — and mad. In such moments, turning to my loving and supporting partner for comfort and reassurance helps so much. As will the Diabetes Online Community and all of the peer-support from D-peeps that “get it” I am able to remind myself in the end, I might have run over by an ice cream truck tomorrow, i.e. there’s no guarantee of this good or bad in life. I have to “just keep swimming,” try not to get overwhelmed, and also realize there isn’t anything you can do however your best for whatever that is worth.
  5. Wallowing in the ‘Why Me?’ Abyss: Totally pointless. As a teenager and later man in my early 20s, this was a significant portion of my life — even though it was under the surface within my own mind. I lived in denial, and got very angry occasionally about why I was chosen for this T1D life. It’s simply not fair, I used to think. So I ignored it and only pretended to be like everybody else, forsaking my D-management a little. I am not treading in those wallowing waters, since I tend to observe the favorable vs. the negative in regards to ‘Why Me? ”’ I wish I could go back in time and share this with my younger self, telling him to perform better because life with diabetes does not have to be doom and gloom.
  6. Rage Against the Machine (see also: Fight the Power): This really is a whole different sort of anger, coupled with frustration and bitterness about a healthcare system that’s unnecessarily complex. Accessibility to diabetes programs and treatments is becoming harder. High prices for insulin, meds and supplies makes me mad, along with the insurance companies and third-party distributors that complicate everything. Nowadays, this kind of D-anger is what really makes me wish to Hulk Smash something… and it requires a lot to not yell into the telephone at these folks standing in the way of my health and stress-free happiness. While less rage-inducing, our medical care teams can fuel another aspect of D-anger — by them being late to appointments even though we’re not permitted to be, to charging excessive fees for simple activities to the often-wide gaps between patient and physician viewpoints. I am not sure how to respond to this particular type of D-anger, besides attempt to remain cool and collected as possible and fight the fantastic fight one day at a time.
  7. Misconception and Myth Madness: Mainstream press makes numerous errors, and the public at large is simply so generally oblivious about diabetes… Or they simply say or do things that drive the D-Community up the wall using anger. This used to have on my nerves more than it does now, I suppose because I simply got jaded following the 12-millionth time something stupid was said or written.   For example, the New York BBQ joint which posted a sign asking insulin-injectors to do this in private – it enraged many in the DOC, fueling a effort to condemn the small business owner and hurt his business. That goes too far, and makes all of us look bad. Then again you see stories like the Mississippi state lawmaker making outrageous comments to a D-Mom trying to receive basic Medicaid coverage for the kid with diabetes. THAT makes my blood flow, and aside from taking to societal media and using the telephone and computer to convey civily with elected officials, it is a D-anger which will linger… until it stinks and makes way for another scenario.
  8. Civil Wars Among PWDs: Too often we find ourselves battling each other over the Diabetes Community, on a variety of topics — the way advocacy orgs must focus and function, why some legislation gets more attention than others, whether we’ll ever see or even care for a remedy, the tech and treatments we use, low carb or not, the way parents direct their kids with diabetes… heck, even the titles we call ourselves and if those titles should be changed. As they say… A House Divided Cannot Stand. The same is true for a community. We are all on precisely the exact same team.

As previously mentioned, almost all of my rage over diabetes is more settled now I am a man in my subsequent 30s. Most of the time, turning to family and friends in the DOC is what helps me through the bad moments. I understand now that moving all Hulk Smash isn’t the best way to handle the majority of these scenarios — but every once in a while, letting out the large green giant of diabetes rage is just what’s called for.

I’d be interested to know what your forms of D-anger are and the way you deal with them, or what manners diabetes anger has gotten the better of you at certain times in life.

And with that, let me leave you all

Diabetes Anger MeMe

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