The Emotional Toll
On this diabetic journey, you can be your own cheerleader or your own worst rival. We have likely all experienced both aspects in life. The emotional impact that diabetes takes on you mentally is serious. Most people look at you like, "You can't eat sweets and sugar; what's the big deal?" Others may not realize that diabetes is much more than just sugar consumption but many other contributing factors.
My experiences with difficult emotions
For me, as a bigger and heftier man, with the added badge of being diabetic, I was depressed because I felt like slimmer family members were going to judge me. I imagined them thinking, "I told you so," with the stigma and misconception that all overweight people have or will develop diabetes. That thought played with my psyche 24/7, so much so that I stopped eating altogether at one point.
Feared food temptations
When I was diagnosed with diabetes, the initial idea of not eating certain foods again made me pull away from social situations and gatherings. In my uneducated mind, I didn't want the temptation of food in fear of high readings. Also, I didn't want family members and friends policing my plates.
Those phrases "you can't have that" or "should you be eating that?" literally would send me over the edge to a further state of depression. I was already skeptical of what I should be eating and didn't need anybody commenting on my food choices. If you are from the south, food is a part of who you are in the culture. In the African American culture, southern soul food is LIFE, and the moment you disown it, you begin to feel like an outcast.
The feeling of constantly failing
The moment I began to dive into my situation, I started to beat myself up and tear myself apart. You might have the feeling that you caused this ailment. For me, my fight, like most others, was trying to reach the "required" glucose number set by my doctor out the gate, only to fail constantly.
It was like a dog chasing its tail. I got so depressed that I couldn't reach "THE" number that I literally gave up. Being a competitive person with a sports background, not reaching this ideal glucose number consumed me with anger, which drove me further into a dark place.
Dealing with my diabetes diagnosis
The first two years of being a diabetic were tough. I was having a roller coaster of bad readings attached to unstable emotions. My PCP and endocrinologist were having a 12-round championship battle of who was right.
I was binging and didn't realize that I still had an unhealthy relationship with food. All the while, I was becoming more stressed out and suicidal. Yes, suicidal and desperately at my wit's end. Frustration had kicked in, and I didn't know how to deal with this new roadblock in my life.
Surround yourself with positive energy and support
They say you become like those whom you surround yourself with for support. So, make sure that your circle of energy is positive along your journey. It took me a while to filter out certain eating habits. I distanced myself from family members and friends who didn't have my best interest at heart.
Support from my diabetes counselor
After a few appointments with my diabetic specialist and counselor, I began to look at life differently. I remember my diabetic specialist telling me to take it one day at a time. She made me realize that my status wasn't going to change overnight. Being a diabetic herself, she broke it down to me BETTER than my PCP or my endocrinologist did.
Understand your journey
Fast forward to now, I came to understand that even as I'm making progress along my path, I will experience pitfalls along the way. Educating yourself on the disease and how it affects you is very important.
Learning my triggers for binge eating when cravings hit is critical when managing my diabetes. Not every diabetic is the same. Remember, this type 2 diabetes experience is not exclusive to a single individual.
The emotional impact of type 2 diabetes
Having a more positive outlook on my journey has been a blessing. Don't get me wrong; I have my bad days along with the good ones. That is to say; I have a better understanding of my relationship with type 2 diabetes. And that better understanding will ONLY progress as much as I allow it to.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month! Want to learn more?
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