The Emotional Toll of Diabetes

A couple of weeks before, I had been with a group of friends. My blood sugars that day (along with the preceding day) was very uncooperative, bouncing up and down, refusing to property anywhere in the middle. No matter what I did, it looked like my body’s response was simply OFF. I was never in any immediate danger — I use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and so I grabbed the highs before DKA range and the highs prior to harmful hypoglycemia range. But nevertheless it had been one of these days when it looked like no matter what I did, the response from my entire body was unpredictable, and it felt like over half my mental energy was devoted to just managing my own unwieldy blood glucose.

As a result of this, at the conclusion of that day I was just burnt out. I had been sad, pissed off, and only DONE with this stupid disease. And my face showed it. My friends, all very well intentioned, desired to help. They asked if I needed some sugar or if there was anything they can do in a sensible way. Obviously, there was not. I explained that I was perfectly safe and that I was just tired of my entire body being inconsistent and uncooperative with me personally. I was not upset due to any bodily symptom from diabetes no, I had been feeling diabetes psychological burnout. And as I was describing this to them, I understood that they couldn’t, and never will, really “get it” about what I’m discussing. If you’re not familiar with this disorder, you simply can’t completely understand. Diabetes has a distinctive psychological toll that it can exact on us, and unless you’ve had to take care of the daily management of the disorder, you can’t understand what it feels like.

To me, a day like this seems abusive— when you do everything that you “should” do, and also this disorder still refuses to reveal any kindness or provide any sort of reward to the unbelievable amount of hard work and mental energy you’re putting out, it seems abusive. When every time you respond to a extreme your body sends you shooting off toward the other extreme, guaranteeing that at another 20–30 minutes you’ll be once again fighting your blood glucose, it seems abusive. Diabetes has this way of making us perform the toughest when it provides the least amount of reward for us.

Perhaps the best way to describe this to someone with diabetes is that it may feel like having an erratic, vindictive, and tyrannical boss. But that merely hints in it, because a boss only controls part of you lifetime, and only has power over you for a specific number of hours. Imagine that horrible boss has the power to eventually take away your own, or one of your extremities, or give you nerve damage. Envision that boss is overseeing you 24 hours a day. And envision that boss is living inside your own mind, invading each and every second of your lifetime. THAT is diabetes.

Now, this is a dire picture I’m painting here, and we Diabetians do not go around feeling abused constantly — we are not even a defeated group. But when that psychological burnout sets in (and it will put in from time to time for all of us), the atmosphere is one that the rest of the world just can’t really understand. That’s OK, of course — it is not that I expected my friends to understand how I felt; and I appreciated that their answers were concerned and wanting to help. It is not like I resented them in that moment. I resented diabetes at that moment, and I resented it even more because I could see that my sense of bliss and anger and exhaustion was something I could not even describe to them! It felt lonely, and there was no way to get around that.

Diabetes is manageable, and we Diabetians are resilient. But that does not make this disorder simple to live with. Some days, it just makes you want to scream!

Wish to find out more about keeping your emotional health with diabetes? Read “Dealing With Diabetes and Depression,””Slimming Diabetes Anxiety: Alternative Treatments” and “Relaxation Techniques for Stressful Times.”

The article The Emotional Toll of Diabetes appeared on Diabetes Self-Management.

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