Today’s topic is intimidating for me to write about, but its importance is monumental. We dwell so much on the physical component of diabetes and often forget that the mental component is just as significant. When I saw that today’s question asked how diabetes affects me mentally or emotionally, I took a deep breath as a stream of emotions (ironically) flowed through my mind. Anxiety, fear, nervousness, joy, anger, frustration, impatience, and even envy are among the many feelings that compose the other half of my diabetes. Here are some explanations why:
Anxiety: The big enchilada, the most prevalent mental toll my diabetes takes on me. I was basically born a worrywart, destined to fret about rational concerns, irrational fears, and everything in between. Throw my diabetes into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for my full-blown anxiety that I work hard to quell every day.
Fear: My fear is tied directly to my anxiety—I can’t help but feel scared when my blood sugar is a little too high or a little too low.
Nervousness: I can’t help but feel nervous when confronted with “unpredictable” situations, like when my food at a restaurant might arrive or whether I’ve remembered to pack all of my diabetes supplies when traveling.
Joy: Yes, I did throw a positive emotion into this list, because the feeling of elation when I experience a diabetes “win” is wonderful. As a kid, I used to draw little fireworks next to blood sugars of 100 mg/dL in my logbook—even though I don’t use them anymore, I still feel fireworks of joy when I manage my diabetes exceptionally well.
Anger: Nothing can make me furious as fast as a high blood sugar. Steer clear from me when I’m high!
Frustration: I try and try and TRY to do my best, but sometimes, it’s to no avail. I get unbelievably frustrated when I’m doing everything right but my numbers don’t reflect my effort.
Impatience: Diabetes leads to a lot of waiting, doesn’t it? Waiting in the doctor’s office, waiting for site changes, waiting for blood sugar to come up/down…I wish I had a bit more patience to help me cope with wait times more calmly.
Envy: Does this really need an explanation? I’m envious of people who have working pancreases.
While it can be exhausting to deal with these complex emotions simultaneously, it helps to remember that I can do this. The power of positive thinking is incredible, so simply reminding myself that I’ve been managing diabetes for more than 18 years has a reassuring impact on me when I get caught up in negative emotions. It also helps to remind myself that I have the support of my loved ones and the good fortune to have access to the diabetes technology that wasn’t available to me during the early days of my diagnosis.
Between the emotional and physical aspects of diabetes, dealing with it is not always easy. But with a little work and the right attitude, it’s possible and not all that bad.