The Church of Hypoglycemia

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Low blood sugar episodes have provided me with some of the most creative, and spiritually insightful and expansive, moments in my life.

Once, when my blood sugar was very low, I experienced the certain realization that the interconnectedness of all life on the planet contributes to the betterment of mankind in a way that is unfathomable but also active and intensely real.

Another time I felt with a startling degree of certainty that the life I was living was a life I had lived before and that it had a definable purpose for its existence.

And once, for a few minutes, I saw with pristine clarity the specific ways in which the people in my life contributed to who I was as a person and how I, in turn, contributed to their existence in a positive manner that would resonate down through time and effect others in ways I could not imagine.

I also once decided that the perfect diet to follow was one in which I purchased all my food only by color.

Then there was the time I plotted out a way that I could actually perform Waiting for Godot as a one-man play. All right, so they ain’t all winners. But, they are altered states of consciousness, in their way.

This sounds like heresy. To say anything positive about a complication of diabetes that could, and does kill people, is like extolling the virtues of cigarette smoking because it looks cool. And I am in no way saying that it’s a good idea to amp up your insulin dosage one day in order to touch the hem of God.

As far as I’m aware, there is not a direct cause and effect relationship between hypoglycemia and spiritual and creative expansionist thinking. And there probably haven’t been any clinical trials to try and find one.

But that doesn’t mean it does not exist.

I know that, on those rare occasions when random and meaningful insights rain down while my blood glucose reads in the low double digits, it’s caused by a chemical reaction in the brain due to a lack of glucose. But that doesn’t communicate an appreciation for the experience any more than staring at the molecular model for oxytocin explains the foundations of love.

The experiences have so far enriched my life. They have given me a deeply felt spiritual appreciation about existence. And no, that does not mean I wish to become the first pastor of the Church of Hypoglycemia. As a Roman Catholic who is also a quarter Jewish, my spiritual life is grounded and fairly straightforward, if admittedly confusing. What I mean is that for certain some hypoglycemic experiences have imbued my belief system with greater gravitas and depth while also instilling in me an improved appreciation for the human condition and the spiritual connection of all things.

For a condition that does little more than beat me up all day long, I find that to be a pretty cool bit of a bonus. So, while I’ll never understand it, I’ll take it. 

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Comments (6)

  1. I’ve done some pretty profound thinking also while low.  I guess the effect of hypoglycemia is that it tends to dull our senses, and without all of the distractions and stimuli of the things around us, we can just sit in that haze and think.  (Perhaps it’s not unlike being high on an illegal substance, but I wouldn’t know — I’ve never been).

    Thanks for bringing this up — it’s good to know I’m not the only one. 

  2. Jennifer LeQuire at

    Insulin has been used to treat psychiatric issues by causing extreme hypoglycemia.  Which, having both type 1 diabetes and bipolar disorder, I’d rather just stay bipolar than experience the treatment that has been given using insulin for psychiatric issues.  Google it, it is interesting.

  3. Catherine at

    Very interesting! I wish I had similarly clairvoyant experiences while low. Instead, the most exciting thing that’s happened to me was a time, shortly after I was diagnosed, when I got approached on Broadway by one of those guys who says, “Excuse me, can I ask you about your hair?” and walked away having bought $150 worth of certificates for a salon I’d never heard of. 

  4. I too have had some rather interesting mental experiences while in an extreme hypoglycemic state. Every time I think that I’ll be able to write a best-selling tell-all book about my experiences that will make me a million dollars, or blog something that will go viral and I will be able to work from home in my pyjamas. Sadly, I don’t ever think to write my insights down and I will always forget them after the Butterfinger gets shoved down my throat by the family member who recognises that my babbling of greatness is really my brain saying “sugar. In water” like the bug from Men in Black.

  5. Andy K at

    Thanks, people, for having this thread here – it’s so cool to know that I’m not alone and not stumbling around or drowning in some new life insanity!

    My situation is I’m a type 1 diabetic who got straight onto the needle 20 years ago, aged 40 – at precisely the same time as I started my 12 Step rehabilitation journey out of alcohol and drug abuse.

    I always found it somewhat amusing that I managed to abuse drugs for 20 years without going within 10 foot of a needle (I was virtually phobic about them) then within a few months of getting clean and sober, had to plunge one into myself four times a day!

    The other big irony was that, having spent so many years and so much money trying to reach a physical and mental state not too far removed from that of a hypo, I didn’t want to get that feeling anymore (when I could have it for free, too!).

    Bottom line is hypo state isn’t nice at all – and neither was getting wrecked on booze, coke and spliff.

    So, here I am – in my 20th year of trying to work a 12 Step, spiritual programme in my life, 7,025 days away from my last drink and drug. Not really managing my diabetes programme as well as I should and sometimes not really managing my spiritual life – reliant on self-honesty and being clean of thought and action in all of my affairs and life – that well either.

    I have sometimes had hypos whilst sleeping and awoken, as referred to by you guys above, in a state of feeling like I’ve touched the Divine, been in the presence of the Light, been gifted to Understanding what “It’s all about” – only to have that feeling drift away as I stuffed gorgeous Blueberry flavoured glucose tabs down my throat. (Lady Imp, your Bug In Edgar Suit comment made me giggle!).

    Just this morning, I awoke – unaware, at first that I was in a 2.9mmol hypo – with the perfectly clear insight and knowledge that I was thinking and acting in ways in my personal life that were not 100% spiritual or honest and that that state could easily lead me back towards drinking and using (read Death, in my case). It was clear and certain and visionary and not of this world. It was absolutely of ‘The Church of Hypoglycaemia – and it was a state which I know has ‘got me back on track’ with my spiritual programme. So thank you for being here and thank you to the person who spoke about writing the experience down and thank you for reading this. I hope it helps someone. And it reminds me that, in the midst of bad things, good things can come. God bless.

  6. Carl Werner at

    I am a physician with tightly controlled type 1 insulin dependent diabetes for 30 years. I too have repeatedly had these false deeply insightful philosophical insights when I am Hypoglycemic but don’t realize it. The reason I know it is a false insight is that my wife looks at me cross eyed and says sharply Check Your Sugar. I too have this euphoric insight connecting ideas that disappear when I come back up to normal blood sugar. I am going to name it Hypoglycemic Euphoric Philosophiacal Insight Syndrome HEPIS

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