Category Archives: Diabetes and your mind

How your mind affects your diabetes and what you can do to make the best of it

Being Bad

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Some people are perfectionists.  I have a little of that.  As a result, I beat myself in the head with thoughts having to do with self improvement and practice makes perfect and try again until it’s right and so on.

Because of this tendency I find that I can easily go to extremes.  About losing weight, I have a hard time keeping reasonable thinking like, “I want to lose 5 pounds.”  Instead it’s “I want to be thin like I was at age 10”.  Or instead of thinking “I need to eat more vegetables” I may think, “I’m going to eat nothing but vegetables from now on until the end of time”.

I don’t actually stick to those extremes thank goodness, but it’s a nagging tendency that isn’t healthy and certainly not comfortable.

Something I learned at IIN, where I graduated recently, was to sometimes “be bad”.  Not go-to-jail bad, but stop-striving-for-unobtainable-perfection bad.

So I’ve found that when I get wrapped up in thinking that I will never eat another bite of anything unhealthy again, I plan for a night with a little ice cream.

Or recently, I got myself some clove cigars that I really like and have one when I’m feeling like all the “right” choices are kind of stifling me with boredom.

It’s hard to try to be “good” or “compliant” all the time and with pretty well managed diabetes, that’s what it feels like.  I mean, I give insulin to bring down a 130.  To me, that kind of control is worth it, I truly believe so, but to balance all that I sometimes sleep in my makeup, smoke the occasional cigar, skip a shower, or read the Fifty Shades Trilogy (yes, I read that marvelous piece of literary crap.  In three days.  My world stopped for a week.  Don’t worry about me I’ve recovered.  Team Matt Bomer!).

Being “bad” reminds me to chill.  It also makes me realize that if my idea of being bad is sleeping in my makeup, then I think I’m going to be ok.

What about you?  What do you do to be bad?

Denial

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We’re so good at it.  All of us.  Or most of us, anyway.

I just read an article in Oprah’s magazine about a woman who has worked as a teacher and a life coach.  She mentioned that she witnessed art students being instructed to draw straight lines and circles for the longest time.  And even though they felt frustrated about such a beginner task, she noticed they rarely saw the imperfection of their circles and straight lines.

Now that she works as a life coach, she helps clients accept the flaws in their life.

I was reminded how denial is our way of procrastinating on the fear and discomfort and shame we feel when we confront the truth about ourselves and our situations in life.

The thing is, those unpleasant feelings dissipate really quickly once we see truth, accept it, and act on it.

The most healing thing I’ve ever experienced is acting on the truth.  Only, the first thing to do before acting on truth is realizing it and accepting it.  Doing that made the right actions possible in the first place.

And the right actions bring the right results.

I have always noticed how people will genuinely believe in a false truth and will act on that and then wonder why they aren’t getting the results or outcome they want.  And the trust is we can put 110% of effort into the wrong actions and get nowhere.  This feels unfair but it’s just the way the world works.

It’s absolutely crucial to be brutally honest with ourselves about why we’ve gained weight, about why we’re lonely, about why we are financially tight, and about why our blood sugars aren’t where we want them.

Only then can we take the correct steps towards improving our situation.  And only then do we experienced the sense of peace that brings a full acceptance of our reality.  Our reality really isn’t that bad when we look at it.  It’s more the thought of it that’s scary.

Look at an area of your life you want to improve and sit by yourself for a few minutes.  Be really honest with yourself about why things are the way they are.  Cry, scream, let out your feelings.  And then meet them with a plan that’s full of clarity and hope.  Be really specific about your plan and layout steps for the next month, week, and day.  You’ll feel better when you’ve done this, I promise.

This is something I help clients with in my health coaching.  Because sometimes we just need some support.  Nothing wrong with that.

Whatever You Think About You Attract

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I’ve written along this subject line before but wanted to do it again because it’s so powerful.  So again, “whatever you think about you attract”.  Does that make sense?  Math is a weakness of mine and so I can fully respect that for some people abstract thinking is not a strong point.  To understand that statement, one needs to think a little deeply for a moment.  This has nothing to do with intelligence because we all have preferences in the way we think about things.

I just wanted to make sure I didn’t poke or sting anyone’s feelings.

Now, let’s get into the meaning of this statement, for those who are interested.  Basically, our thoughts are powerful.  They influence our feelings.  We act very heavily upon our feelings and so our thoughts influence our actions.

Let’s say someone is having some cash flow issues and they hear that “whatever you think about you attract” bit.  They might spend much of the day thinking about how they don’t want to be broke or how they don’t want to have a money problem anymore.  Interestingly though, because these thoughts imply the mind is focusing on being broke and that there IS a money problem, one’s feelings can’t help but be affected negatively because the focus is still ON the problem.  And our feelings are so majorly influential that we will struggle to withhold our negative feelings from leading to negative actions.  For example, how many of us have quit a workout or diet goal because something in our life made us upset and we justified quitting because of said upsetting thing?  It happens all the time.

Feelings are important.  That’s why it’s recommended that people learn to manage stress.  Being emotionally upset messes up the equilibrium in the body.  It shoves you right out of your groove.

So what should a broke person do?  First of all, logic is not thrown out the window.  A person should absolutely make good decisions about how they are spending their money if their money is tight.  Now that’s out of the way, this person could keep positive thoughts in his head and think about what he does have.  Focusing on being grateful for the things he does have will give his body some positive feelings which will combat any negative ones and help support this person to have the strength required for the right decisions.  Relentlessly making the right decisions carries a person to their goal much faster than if they are so weighed down by being upset and depressed that half of their decisions do not lead to their ultimate goal.  Something is always going well in our lives, so that needs to be drawn out and made a top thought priority.

If you struggle thinking of something that’s going well, pick a body part of yours that works and be thankful it’s there and serving you.  Imagine what you’d do without it.  Yikes, right?

So there.  “Whatever you think about you attract” isn’t magic, it’s real.  It’s much like karma, which is also not magic.  People all over the world find their own way to describe things that don’t have a name and so the “law of attraction” and “karma” are just that.

I encourage you to try this in your life in some way or other.  Try it with your self esteem, your diabetes, your financial situation, your relationships, etc.  Just try it.

It’s completely changed my life for the better.  I mean it.  And I want awesome things for all of you.  You deserve it.  If you want some support with this and other health issues consider checking out my website, sysymorales.com.

Do share your thoughts in the comments!  I really appreciate the feedback.

Do Something You’re Afraid Of

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It’s Fabulous Friday where we celebrate ourselves or at least remember to.

When we’re afraid of doing something because of the possibility of failure, we don’t honor the incredible people that we are-capable of just about anything.

So today, I ask you to consider doing something you’re afraid of.  And diabetes will seem a little easier.  At least that’s what I have experienced this summer.

You know that movie with Jim Carrey where he says “yes” to everything and it changes his life?  Well, I kind of did that this summer.  I responded affirmative to everything that came up.  Did I overschedule myself a few times?  Yeah.  Did I freak out over some of what I was attempting?  Oh yeah.

But, it was so worth it.

Of course, I don’t mean trying something dangerous.  For me, it meant public speaking, doing more health coaching, participating in as many diabetes related projects as were offered to me even if they made me uncomfortable or seemed difficult.

Part of my fear was not having much downtime and having to multi-task.  But I learned I could mentally get myself to accomplish routines that would have killed my non-housewifey self a year ago.  I did treat myself to ice cream during times of panic, I’ll admit.  I did watch all 11 seasons of Frasier on Netflix (this was therapy because the incessant laughter the show gave me relaxed me and kept me sane-I swear!)  Yet, I realized by working almost every hour of every day that I had only been afraid of a little discomfort and no more.

Something I’ve also been doing that I’ve been afraid of is getting rid of a lot of my possessions.  The funny thing about that is the thought of doing it is what hurts.  Actually doing it feels totally liberating!

For the first time since I can remember, I’m looking forward to Fall and Winter.  This is a big deal for me because I struggle with cold weather and the emotional and traditional Holidays.  But, now I’m all sunshiny about it and I don’t recognize myself.

Doing something we’re afraid of sparks something really great in our minds.  It gives us a feeling of immense relief, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad!” and a major sense of accomplishment “OMG I did it!” and my favorite part, it gives us a feeling of wanting to push further and raise our personal bars to a new level.  Essentially, doing things that scare us help us dream big.  And if dreaming big turns into actionable steps…well, monumental joys await.

So I encourage you all to try something you’re afraid of.  Even if it seems insignificant.  If you’re afraid of it, it matters.  Try it.  It eases anxiety and paranoia that we people with diabetes tend to have extra amounts of.  And the confidence boost and feeling that anything is possible will lift your spirits.  And maybe you’ll get a renewed strength and motivation about your diabetes management.  I know I did.

What have you done lately that you’re afraid of?  Share in comments!

Thoughts on Diabetes Guilt

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I answered a few questions for a video project recently and wanted to get my thoughts out in written format.

The first question was if I had ever felt guilty about having diabetes.  Personally, I have never felt guilty about having diabetes but I have felt guilty about other things such as not eating right, not checking my blood sugars often enough, or skipping exercise.

The way I’ve dealt with this is to first recognize that I’m not perfect and second of all be brutally honest with myself about my efforts.  For me, guilt comes from not doing what I know I’m capable of.  So since I don’t make insulin, I don’t feel guilty about having diabetes, but I certainly try to be aware of what I’m doing in order to get what I want such as good health or great blood sugars.  If I feel guilty about how I’m eating, it’s usually because I know I could be doing better.  I view guilt as a sign that helps point me in the right direction.  And since I’m not a fan of guilt, I use it as a pointer and then banish it for productivity and dignity purposes.

I find that making a plan of action and setting goals is a really great way of diminishing guilt.  Once we are on a path towards our goals, we feel empowered and we know we’re working hard and then there is no room or place for guilt.

I have been treated differently in the past for having diabetes.  It’s understandable because of how most people have a certain level of ignorance about diabetes.  So I find education is key.  And when it’s not appropriate to lecture or teach someone about diabetes, I just smile and feel confident knowing that most people don’t mean to offend and those who do aren’t worth my time.  Walking around angry about the public’s ignorance about diabetes is immature.  I mean, are we saying everyone needs to know the ins and outs of our condition when we don’t know the ins and outs of hundreds of other conditions?  Yikes.

For those who don’t have diabetes, I do have a suggestion.  I’d suggest that they simply not assume when it comes to anything about anyone else and be open to learning, instead.  The great thing about this is it should work on just about anything!

The best tool I’ve found for handling misconceptions out there about diabetes is to put all my energy and focus on living my best life because I’ve found that when I do that, I look and feel better and that speaks volumes to people and sets them straight often before I open my mouth to correct them.

Many people feel that type 1 diabetes is easy and all about just taking insulin.  It’s been very empowering for me to write a blog that family and friends read because it’s allowed them to learn more about what diabetes is really like to live with, without being lectured.

So all in all I’d say that leading and teaching others by example and focusing on ourselves is a great way to fight stereotypes and misconceptions out there.  Placing much of our energy outside of ourselves is a bit of a waste, in my opinion.  And very importantly, I’d say that it’s important to decide that no one is going to make you feel bad about having diabetes.  If they get to you it may be that you have some feelings of your own to work through and if that’s the case, work through them.  My philosophy is to take responsibility for our own feelings and actions.

I like being in a place where guilt doesn’t weigh me down and other people have little power over me.  I think we all deserve that.

How I Just Be Happy and Manage My Diabetes

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The secret to happiness.  I’ve heard wise people say that we don’t find happiness, rather we simply be happy.  And I always scoffed at that because I thought, “um…easy for you to say, you don’t have diabetes or this or that or blah blah blah…”

And recently, despite being really short on finances, despite having type 1 diabetes, despite living in a world that feels more scary every day, I’ve been really happy.

And I suddenly understood that thing about just being happy.  How many of us think that once we change jobs we’ll be happy?  Or once we lose weight we’ll be happy?  Or once we find the one, we’ll be happy.  I did all three of those at one point in life and was hit over the head with the realization that life felt the same because I was looking at it through the same gray tinted lens.  I went back to thinking I’d be happy if I had this or that and so the search for happiness just went on and on.

I also used to think I’d be happy if I could have well managed diabetes.  Just now, I sat looking at my kids happily squealing over a praying mantis (and petting it no less), and thought, why do I manage my diabetes well now and didn’t back then?  It’s not that I work harder than I used to.

You see, instead of trying to find happiness lately, I just be happy.  And it works.  And while I used to try to manage my blood sugars, I now just manage them.  Just like I am happy no matter what happens.  I manage my blood sugar no matter what it takes.  Being happy means making the choice to be happy, even under difficult circumstances (which are bound to be present).

Well, managing blood sugars, for me at least, means choosing to manage my blood sugars.  Managing my blood sugars even if I don’t want to eat right, even if I don’t want to give a shot, or check my blood sugar.  Even if I don’t want to make any of the sacrifices that non-diabetics don’t have to make.

Some say they don’t want to work that hard, give up that much, or strain to be happy while feeling hurt or anger or pain.  But what I figured out was that hurt, anger, pain, and hard work are inevitable and a part of life.  Those who try to escape these feelings are simply relocating them, losing control over their lives, and not even reaping the benefits.

So try choosing to be happy.  And choose to manage your blood sugars.  You know what to do.  You know what it takes.  You’re worth it.  And it’s not nearly as hard as dealing with the consequences of not doing it.  Ironic, but true.  And am I always happy and always managing my diabetes well?  Nah.  That would be non-human of me.

Now I know this was a big simple post and general and all that.  I’ll get in deeper soon, I promise.

It’s the Highs that Worry Me

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It’s 12:48am and I’m 243.  I’m waiting for my high to come down.  I never go to sleep high because I don’t want a low in the middle of the night and I don’t want to sleep through a high that continues longer than it needs to.  Normally I’d set an alarm but it wakes my husband, who gets up at 5am each morning in the summer so I try to spare him the interrupted sleep.

I’m thinking about how so many people’s fear about having diabetes is centered on low blood sugars.  I understand but for me…I don’t fear low blood sugars very much and they only cause me anxiety when I’m in the midst of a bad one.

I fear the highs.

For me, the thought of a slow descent into diabetes complications is scarier than a sudden death in the middle of the night from a low.  I’m afraid of suffering.  I feel like I’ve already suffered enough.  I’m afraid of becoming a burden to others.  Alex has tried to help me through this.  We used to know an older couple.  The lady had rheumatoid arthritis and was bound to a wheelchair for decades.  Her husband was loyal, loving, and attentive.  I was always moved by that.  And in a way, I felt sorry for her.  Because I felt that in her position, I’d feel as if I was a burden.  Not my proudest thought…but it’s just a fear of mine.  In fact, I’ve been afraid of getting old  since I was 5.  One day I watched the couple and Alex caught me gazing at them.  He said, “If you ever need me to be that way with you, I will, ya know.”  This was a few months before we got married and I felt assured that I was marrying someone who truly believed in the “in sickness and in health” idea.

But I’m still afraid.

Few things bring me more joy and pleasure than feeling my body be healthy, energetic, and pain free.  It’s something I have always put a lot of value on.  Though some of the preoccupation may be vanity, mostly I just feel happy when my body doesn’t complain when I use it.

Maybe I feel this way because I’ve dealt with plenty of body aches and pains and medical issues.  I wear glasses, I’ve had knee pain since age 13, I’ve had carpel tunnel syndrome and tendonitis, tons of severe headaches, chronic sinusitis for years, major cramps from PMS and PCOS, killer kidney stone pain on numerous occasions, and an easily unsettled stomach since forever.

Honestly, a day with no body pain and great blood sugars is like heaven and doesn’t come around often.  I don’t need anything but that.  I think this aspect of me has lead me to want this for others, too.  It’s like a healthy body is a gateway for so many other wonderful things in life.  Possibilities are easier to grasp.  One’s mood is so much easier to keep up.

I fear complications with diabetes robbing me of my relatively healthy body.  I am doing all I can to prevent them but I wish I could put the fear on hold.  To be honest, I don’t linger on these feelings often.  Usually they’re a fleeting thought.  And I think they’re a residue of all the years I spent misinformed about my chances for the risks of complications.  I wasn’t aware that good control would reduce my risks.  I was told this but I didn’t believe it because I didn’t think good control was possible.  Now I have pretty good control and some of those old feelings have stuck around.  It’s time to let them go isn’t it?

Goodnight all, though I’ll be up for a little while longer.

Tripping

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You know how you can have a spring in your step because you like your hair and outfit and then suddenly, you figuratively trip on your blood sugars and your awesomeness is sucked out of you?

Man, I hate when that happens.

But try to go with the flow.  Once your blood sugar is back up or down, whatever the case may be, forget it was ever out of range to begin with.

There is no need to feel like diabetes is a shameful or embarrassing thing to carry around.  Sure, we can seem drunk during a low and highs make us appear like walking to the kitchen is a marathon, but there is a lot more dignity in self respect than in self loathing.  Get your sugars back up or down and carry on.

Hold your head up high, it’s ok, I promise.

Low Blood Sugar Dreams

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I don’t know about you but when I have a low blood sugar at night, I end up having dreams I remember when I awake.  If my low comes on really slowly, and most of mine do, the threat isn’t as immediate and I sometimes find myself in a lucid dream while somehow acknowledging I’m low but refusing to stop the fun.

The other night I dreamt Kelly Kunik, a diabetes blogger, ran and won a marathon.  Last night I dreamt that I was suddenly Angelina Jolie’s secret agent, hired (hmm…I don’t remember getting paid) to hack into a computer (though hmmm she provided a password) and retrieve some secret information before Brad Pitt found it.  Where was Brad Pitt in my dream, you ask?  He was lurking in the shadows trying to get the info before I did!  He was not very skilled at trying to get to the computer because I wasn’t very good and I beat him to it (he was much like his dopey character in “Burn After Reading”).  Then I got the info, whatever it was, back to Angelina “Boss” Jolie and she thanked me with a silent nod (though I never got paid…) and then I ninja rolled on the carpet and leapt out of a window in my black secret agent suit, never to be seen again.

At that point I let myself wake up because my mission was over and my blood sugar was low.  So I muttered to my husband, who had been in my dream dancing at Angelina and Brad’s party, “Aleeeex…”  He jumped up in the most freaky alert way “Low?!”  I nodded.  He brought me juice.  Then I laughed because the last thing I remember from my dream is someone saying “Wow, your Alex can really dance!”  And from what I remember he was doing something undeniably goofy.

Wacky dreams happen to me when I have lows and I find it helps with the sting of resentment towards lows, that’s for sure :)

Does this ever happen to you?  Any crazy dreams you can tell us about that will make me not so embarrassed about what I just shared?

One For Every Year

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My most memorable thoughts about diabetes for each year with diabetes, starting with the first year as an 11 year old:

1994  “I can do this.  No, I won’t go to diabetes camp, I’m just like everyone else, I’ll go to regular camp.”  “Ok, regular camp was fun but I thought I was going to die”.

1995  “Alright, I don’t like this at all.  I’m not sure I can do this.”

1996  “I can’t do this!  But I don’t want anyone to know…”  “I just want to be normal”.

1997  “Recovering from a gum grafting surgery.  So this is what happens when I try to be normal.  Not fair.”

1998  “I wonder what boys think about my diabetes?”

1999  “I hate diabetes.”

2000  “Feeling out of control.  Help!”

2001  “The way things are going, I might as well give up.”

2002  “I can’t do college while panicking like this.  I can’t even pick up a pencil.”

2003  “Can I turn my life around?  Is it possible?  I can’t live like this anymore.”

2004  “Ooooh…alcohol…what a nice way to forget my problems!”

2005  “Alcohol is useless.  Trying to do better.  Trying to do better.  Trying to do better.”

2006  “Eat this not that.  Do this not that.  Change is hard.  Super hard.”

2007  “Wow, I’m doing better…Just keep going.”

2008  “A1c is down.  Weight is down.  I can run a 5k every day.  Getting married this year.  Happiness is totally up.  I can’t believe this is my life now.”

2009  “TWINS!  Must. Have. Sleep.”

2010 “We’re not poor, we’re just struggling. (Can I borrow a $5 for groceries?)”

2011 “Hello DOC!”

2012  “I can do this!  Wait a minute…I am doing this.”

Life ebbs and flows.  When you’re on the up, enjoy it and take steps to safeguard your future.  When you’re down, know that you will be back up again.  Just don’t give up hope.  Giving up hope prolongs the process between going from down to up and we don’t want that.  Don’t give up hope.