May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope? (Thanks go out to Scott of Strangely Diabetic for coordinating this topic.)
Sometimes I feel like a bit of an odd man out among diabetics.
Time and again I’ve read in others’ blogs about the heavy emotional toil that diabetes brings. About living in fear of that unexpected low, or the potential physical problems that can develop, or trying to figure out how many carbs are in that home-cooked meal that somebody else made. And it’s not just PWDs, either. Parents of children with diabetes chronicle the stress and anxiety they experience on a daily basis. Moms and dads who haven’t had a full night’s sleep in years because they get up two or three times a night to check their child’s blood sugar.
I rarely feel any of that.
Oh sure, I have my moments of frustration with the day-to-day grind of living with diabetes, and with my son’s tendency to forget to take his insulin. But overall, I just don’t get all that worked up about it. Even when I was diagnosed, my reaction was basically, “Huh, bummer. I guess that explains why I was feeling weird.”
Perhaps my biggest emotional problem with this disease, then, is apathy. Not that any of those negative emotions are good for you. But by taking it too much in stride, I can allow my control to slip: my blood sugar numbers vary a bit too much, I eat far too much junk food and then struggle to bolus properly for it, etc. That’s why I’m grateful for the Diabetes Online Community. The stories of people who overcome those obstacles, who pursue their dreams without letting diabetes slow them down, who simply share a success story about keeping their blood sugars in range for a single meal; these inspire me to care. They spur me to action, and to pursue harder that nebulous concept of “control.” And most of all, I am reminded that ultimately, it’s not about me. It’s about my wife, my children, and the children that they will have some day. I want to be sure that I’m there for them, healthy and active into my old age. And it’s for my son, who also deals with finger sticks and shots and all the other nuisances that diabetes brings on a daily basis, and for whom I stand as an example.