Today’s prompt is a repeat from one we had in 2014, which was when I participated in my very first Diabetes Blog Week.
The prompt: Today let’s revisit a prompt from 2014 – 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?
I wear my heart on my sleeve and my emotions on my face. I’ve never been skilled at hiding my feelings, and as it would have it, diabetes makes me feel ALL the feels. The prevailing emotion I experience due in part to my diabetes is anxiety. I’ve blogged a little about it before and saw a therapist for just over a year to explore via talk therapy why my anxiety is so intense sometimes.
Talking to a therapist helped me understand where my anxieties stem from; in turn, this helped me feel more normal about experiencing anxiety. For instance, I realized that my compulsion to have control over most forces in my life is probably a result of my inability to control my diabetes in the same way. “Control” and “diabetes” are two words that do not go together, and I know that, but this doesn’t mean that I don’t get frustrated when my diabetes completely rebels against me in spite of me doing everything right regarding my self-care.
I stopped seeing a therapist because I felt like we addressed my needs, but I still rely on coping mechanisms I’ve developed when I experience frustration, sadness, anger, or total burnout due to my diabetes. My favorite ones include writing about it, going for long walks, treating myself to a trip to the mall (or with a massage or manicure), getting lost in a good book or a movie…essentially, anything that will distract me or keep my mind busy helps me deal with the emotional side of diabetes. Sometimes, I just don’t want to talk about my problems or concerns, because voicing them doesn’t always mitigate my feelings—it can actually exacerbate them, depending on a few different factors. So it’s helpful for me to kind of shut that part of my brain down for a bit by engaging it in something other than my emotions. I compare it to restarting your computer: You receive a notification that you need to shut it down for some updates, so you reboot it, and it’s running better than ever once the updates have finished installing. That’s a very technical way to talk about emotions, but what can I say, I’m not just an emotional person—I’m an analytical one, too.
I can’t wait to read other posts in response to this prompt. I’d like to learn how other people handle the emotional aspects of diabetes, and I’m especially interested to see how parents/loved ones/caregivers of people with diabetes respond. It’s important for me to understand multiple perspectives, and perhaps I could use those methods of coping to help other people I know with diabetes (or another chronic condition) when they may be going through a rough patch.