Mood Swings With Type 2 Diabetes

Editor's note: This is an anonymous interview with someone who has been living with type 2 diabetes and is experiencing serious mood changes and swings. They wanted to share their story to help others realize they are not alone in these feelings and that it's important to seek help if you need it.
Trigger warning: The content includes information related to mental and emotional distress and it might be upsetting to some people. If you or someone you know have thoughts of suicide, have attempted suicide, or experience emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1–800–273–TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat.

What do you want people to know about mood changes and diabetes?

I think that mood changes are very often misunderstood. When people have diabetes they will often have mood changes. With some, it’s a given factor. That being said, there are all kinds of things that will cause mood changes. A person growing older, watching too much news, politics, and social sites, are a few things that will bring out mood changes in some people. Some people will actually go online and self-diagnose themselves because of finding symptoms that are similar. Or they’ll say “Hey, I’m diabetic. It’s part of it.” They’ll put it as such and keep on going.

People really need to quit going online and assuming that what they find and read is what they have. I’ve been there and have done that - a very good way to screw yourself over. Sometimes yeah, you’re right. That’s what causing the issue. You’ve nailed it on the head. Maybe. What if you were wrong in doing that? Not only have you screwed yourself over, but your loved ones as well.

When did you notice your mood changes?

A few years back my spouse and others noticed changes in me that I didn’t. They’d bring to my attention that I’ve changed and that it’s not good. I’d laugh at them and tell them it’s a body change or something, changing the story every time because I didn’t notice it myself. I even thought it was diabetes-related. I started to do my tests more often but each time the read was very good. I had started doing internet searches and self-diagnosis. It was the wrong thing to do.

When did you decide to seek professional help?

Finally, I couldn’t take the moods any longer. I saw my primary care provider (PC) and told her what I was going through. She started me on some meds and told me flat-out that she was making a referral for me to see a psychiatrist. At first I...ah...refused to go to see one and wanted her to treat me instead.

Seeing a psychiatrist has a stigma attached to it even after all these years, just like diabetes does, if not worse than diabetes. So dummy me refused to do what was good for me. Meds weren’t helping me. My PC would increase certain ones but still no good. After seeing my anger, tears, and happiness bounce back and forth, and the yelling and cursing I was giving my spouse and friends, I finally gave in. On our next telechat I told the PC she wins. She asked what took so long for me to cave in and why now? I told her about the stigma, me wanting her to treat me, and that it’s gotten out of control. I was having suicidal thoughts - yes, I thought of death very often.

She told me she was glad that I finally agreed. That she had taken me as far as she could - that it was time to move on to someone more experienced in mental health.

What was your experience with the psychiatrist like?

I made an appointment. The psychiatrist is a nice lady. She was digging stuff out of me I had forgotten. She asked about children. Nope, no children. She asked about thoughts of suicide. I told her that I had thought about it often. She asked more - about any self-harm, among other things. After she asked about my OCD, I asked her what’s wrong with me - that I felt like I’m losing it and going crazy.

What were you diagnosed with?

That’s when I got hit with the bipolar diagnosis - she said it’s in my DNA. I have a sibling who said they have it, my dad mentioned that he thought he had it, and they suspected mama of being bipolar as well. Looks like both sides of the family tree got to my sibling and myself. No, it doesn’t mean because it’s in your DNA that everyone in the family will have it. It just means that they’re more likely to have it than a person who doesn't have a family history.

What does being bipolar feel like?

You know what it feels like? It’s as though you’re on a roller coaster. You’re going from one extreme to another constantly, not knowing where you’ll be next. I was very good at hiding my tears, and other things. The anger would escape me, along with jabbering a lot uncontrollably.

Here is a link that hits the feeling right on the head. This is exactly what I told my psychiatrist and counselor.

How does managing your mental health compare to managing diabetes?

Like diabetes, it’s not curable at all. I’ll be on meds and dealing with this for the rest of my life. But that’s better than the alternative I think. And no it’s not one of these things that you can just do on your own, like some do with diabetes. I’ve already had my meds adjusted once. This will be a never-ending battle. This is going to be a given - adjustments to dosage or changes of medication.

As with diabetes, there is a lot of myths and misinformation on bipolar on the internet and among people in general. And no, vitamins and supplements aren’t going to handle this. If you decide you don’t like your prescribed medication, talk to your psychiatrist about it. They will decide to maybe put you on another or adjust the dosage for you. But whatever you do, don’t just totally quit on your own without talking to the doctor first.

Are you doing anything else that is helping to manage your diagnosis?

I’m seeing a counselor as well. I’ve been briefed on Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) and have to do homework until I see her at my next appointment. She’ll look at what I’ve done with ANTS and assign me more homework. Between the two professionals, I will hopefully learn to see an episode coming and maybe control the ride in my favor, or maybe move out of line for the roller coaster ride for at least a few times. Yes, I already know I’ll have the swings, but hopefully, I’ll be on the right dosage or new medication that will keep it from becoming a full-fledged ride.

What has your experience been like when telling others about your diagnosis?

Educating others is one of the biggest problems. Trying to get them to understand that your diagnosis is the reason for your actions. Some don’t want to hear all of what you’re going through. And it doesn’t help any when it’s a family member that only wants to selectively know what you’re going through. I wouldn’t wish any of this on my worst enemy.

I’m calming down a little bit. I know I have a very long road to travel on this. A hard road too - but I am working on it.

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