You may think its poor diet, lack of health insurance, or a lack of exercise. Those things are extremely important to say the least. Yet, something which threatens a diabetic’s health more than anything I’ve seen just happens to be depression.
A depressed person has an extremely hard time eating properly. They often seek large quantities of comfort foods.
A depressed person might skip insulin shots because of feelings of hopelessness.
A depressed person may not be able to easily exercise because depression can cause very real physical pain such as stomach and back aches and makes it very difficult to get out of bed in the mornings.
A depressed person is likely suffering from feelings of worthlessness and therefore does not have the energy or motivation necessary to do all they need to do in order to manage their diabetes.
During the years I spent with my diabetes out of control I regularly wrote down all I needed to commit to in order to improve my control. I realized that I knew exactly what to do and where to start. The logic was all there. But, something was missing. I also had my vision in my head. I knew what I wanted to do and be in the future-my goals and dreams and aspirations. Something was still missing.
My endocrinologist told me it would be easy to improve control. He said, “Just monitor more often, eat right, exercise, and keep your insulin routine.”
He never acknowledged or perhaps recognized my emotional state. Diabetes causes an enormous amount of psychological strain on a person. Often, after years of struggling with the never ending lifestyle diabetes forces upon it’s owner, depression sets in.
Once I recognized I was depressed, could the healing finally begin. It was a long journey out, I must admit. One doesn’t just “snap out of it” as you may know if you have ever been depressed.
The point is, once I dealt with the depression everything else fell slowly into place. I finally had the emotional energy to check my blood sugars without wanting to cry over a less than ideal number, I felt motivated to eat healthy, and my body aches went away so I could finally exercise without so much pain and fatigue. In diabetes control, one positive thing such as better glucose averages leads to another-like fewer mood swings. It is a win-win.
Deal with your depression and the rest will follow. You may find it helpful to see a counselor-I did. You can make a plan of action with your doctor where you try certain things for a few months and check back in to have your progress monitored. Depression is so serious and so consuming that I would strongly encourage anyone with diabetes to make it a priority and to tackle it with your doctor.
There isn’t a quick fix for depression that I know of and it took me years to heal but, it is possible to feel better and to not be depressed. Sometimes you feel so bad you can’t function and this is why seeking help is so important. If you have diabetes, seeking help right away is probably even more crucial.
The last point I want to make is about positive thinking. If you start to force yourself to practice turning negative thoughts into positive ones, you will begin to change what happens in your brain. The more positive thoughts you have, the better your brain reacts, the happier you are, the healthier your body feels, and in a weird way, you’ve tricked your brain into thinking you’re perfectly ok. Then your brain becomes accustomed to working a certain way and will help you to feel happy and healthy the next time you encounter something difficult in your life. It’s a free and powerful way to help alleviate depression and there is no risk in trying it. It worked really well for me and is in fact what I feel keeps me mentally strong these days.
Whatever you do, know you’re not alone and that there is hope!