Diabetes Awareness Means Depression Awareness, Too
I am struggling this morning. I’ve been struggling for a while. It’s hard to explain to others, hard to explain to even myself, sometimes. Hard to find the energy to get up, and take care of myself. Get up and keep going; keep doing, keep being responsible and caring for myself and others. Life wants so much of me, demands so much of me.
Life demands, and seldom understands.
Diabetes doesn’t care how I feel. It doesn’t care if I’m run down, if my spouse is unsupportive and doesn’t carry his own weight, if I have a cold, or if I’m exhausted beyond belief, if I struggle with the bills or with finding the time (or the cash) for medical care… If I don’t have a car to make it to appointments, or if I don’t have a proper winter coat.
Just like when you struggle one morning with insomnia, your period, your relatives, etc., only to have to listen to a listing of your shortcomings and unreasonable expectations from a boss – so does diabetes NOT CARE about how you feel.
It still demands you cook every meal, go to bed on time, exercise, and take the pills, upon pills, and pay the unreasonable bills because of America’s unreasonable health industry that treats individuals like cash cows and commodities… While folks blame you for giving yourself diabetes, or for not just working harder to keep paying for all the bills.
Yes, this is part of what it’s like living with diabetes.
It is living with the ups and downs of our emotional health challenged and warped by constant chronic illness demands and life demands. It is a desire to cry endless rivers of brine, but not wanting to, because that will only get you so far, and it will only draw people to sit and want to give you quick fixes for your life. Fixes that don’t take in mind that often depression is just UNREASONABLE! It just is what it is. It doesn’t seem to have rhyme or reason – it’s just an anvil on your head.
Yes, living with diabetes often means living with depression…
And much like the chicken and the egg it’s hard to know which one came first. Studies have shown that depression can lead to diabetes, and that diabetes can lead to depression. (Almost like a no win situation, though not everyone with diabetes will get depression.) Scientists are still studying all the connections.
But if you have depression what can be done today? Not to quick fix you, but what can we do to have some kind of relief?
- Well… begin by being kind to yourself. Love yourself. Acknowledge you are struggling. Diabetes is challenging enough on its own. Don’t blame yourself for whatever it is you think may have caused your feelings. Instead, acknowledge the feelings, and forgive yourself. It’s OKAY to feel tired, and blue, and overwhelmed… and even angry. None of us is a super hero.
- I know we feel like hiding in a cave… but don’t avoid people. Spend some time socially with friends and family, and go out and do things you enjoy. Distraction is a powerful thing.
- Make yourself a priority. Devote time to yourself where you put everything else on hold. It can ALL wait for an hour. Again, distract yourself from those thoughts… and seek to redirect them.
- Try to keep eating well, sleeping well, showering, and exercising – they may seem like daunting tasks, but it’s a lot easier to fight against overburdening feelings when we have the energy and tools to fight. When our body is in better shape to fight. Consider asking family for help with meals, or chores.
- Visit with your medical team, and discuss things like behavioral cognitive therapy, joining a support group, changing your diabetes plan, or taking medication for depression.
Struggling with diabetes often means also struggling with depression, and with finding the energy to do the things we must. Which means managing diabetes becomes all the more challenging. It’s okay to acknowledge we’re struggling, take some time out, and ask for help.
Have you taken our Person Before Patient Survey?