The title of my blog today comes from a song written by an old (T1) friend who wrote about the roller coaster days of diabetes, and I couldn't think of anything better to title my post today. All about mental health and diabetes.
For a long time I was often told that I was depressed, sad or sometimes said mean things. Often I was told this by family and health care professionals. I was told this not because they were trying to hurt me, but because they saw the roller coaster I was on as just that. I may have seemed depressed, sad or mean but it wasn't me, it was the D. Let me just say, as someone who tries VERY hard to be a nice and tolerant to everyone I meet, it's disheartening to hear this.
After reaching out to the DOC (diabetes online community) and carefully monitoring my everything during the roller coaster ride, I have come to the conclusion that diabetes is a whole mind AND body disease. It affects our blood sugar, kidneys heart, eyes yadda yadda...we are always told how detrimental having out of control blood sugars can be on our body, but why have endocrinologists never addressed that sometimes, you will feel blue for no reason? Why weren't we told that we would be often be told my friends, family members even doctors that we were blaming the disease when it wasn't that at all? I have never felt anger about beign diabetic, I don't remember what it's like to NOT be diabetic.
We are often having fingers pointing at us saying we could lose toes, kidney function, eye sight for being the way we are, but no body puts a hand on our shoulder and says "don't listen to your body right now, it's reacting to your roller coaster, you're not a shit head"
So the more I followed my patterns the more I started to understand that diabetes is intertwined with mental illness so tightly I don't even wish to separate the fact and say I am "depressed" because the depressed I feel does not last weeks or months, it lasts maybe a day and now I know why. People who suffer from depression and other like-mental illnesses deserve more recognition for their struggles and people who live with diabetes deserve more shoulder patting than finger pointing.
This all came to me the other day pretty suddenly, actually. On Wednesday night I woke up at 1 am to a blood sugar of 1.9 mmol/L or 34 mg/dcl. A relatively severe low to say the least. I laid in bed sucking on a juice box just wishing for everything to just leave me alone. I was willing myself to treat the low rather than ignore it. Trying to convince myself that getting up and eating a half cup of peanut butter was a bad idea because of the enormous amount of calories and I just laid there.
I laid there feeling awful, I felt physically horrible because of my low, but I felt mentally awful for failing, yet again, at something I should be masterful of! It's been almost a quarter century with this disease! How can I possibly be this low for no reason! As I was mentally beating myself up, I checked my blood sugar again 15 mins later and I was comfortably at 5.9/106. I lowered my basal for three hours by 20% and fell back asleep.
Fast forward to 6:30 am. I wake and I am 3.4/61. I was so frustrated. And sad. And confused. I just ate my breakfast and went about my business as normal...forgetting to bolus for the food I ate in addition to the juice I drank. I am sure you can see where I am going to end up here...
At 10am I check and I am now 16.4/295. I am parched, my heart is racing, my eyes feel heavy and I need insulin. I do a correction and I feel sad. I feel a heavy weight over my body like a fog that I can't get out of. I correct and slump into my work for the day.
I tried everything to pick me up that day and nothing did. Not a bike ride, or my favourite show, or walking my dog...just nothing. The only thing that made me feel better was sleeping. It's exhausting fighting a battle like that day, jumping through hoops just trying to feel healthy and normal. And I really do believe that if our hormones are so messed up that they aren't doing their job for one thing, then it's fully possible and even probably that our ability to cope and process adrenaline, serotonin and all of the other feel good hormones is completely messed up too.
I know I am not alone. But it's important that to be aware of the risks and complications of diabetes, and those include days where we aren't ourselves emotionally, mentally AND physically. I am so very lucky to have a partner in life that helps me through these tough days, he totally understands and reminds me of the hard things I deal with on top of every day life. He reminds me that tomorrow is another day, and for that I will be forever thankful.