Tag Archives: depression

Monday 2015 Diabetes Blog Week Post I CAN

Click for the I Can – Monday 5/11 Link List.
In the UK, there was a diabetes blog theme of “I can…”  that participants found wonderfully empowering.  So lets kick things off this year by looking at the positive side of our lives with diabetes.  What have you or your loved one accomplished, despite having diabetes, that you weren’t sure you could?  Or what have you done that you’ve been particularly proud of?  Or what good thing has diabetes brought into your life?  (Thank you to the anonymous person who submitted this topic suggestion.)

 

Happy to be back after two years…

 

When I was 10 years old, I felt a very strong sensation bubbling up inside of me that I can now identify as drive and motivation.  For what?  I wasn’t sure.  I just felt a seriously strong longing to do something important, something that would help people.  This intensified when my sister was diagnosed with type 1 that year.  The most memorable dream of my entire life was right after her diagnosis.  I wrote it down.  Basically I was in the Amazon rain forest, just south of where I was born, looking for a cure for cancer (interesting that cancer be the disease I was curing in my dream-I think this had to do with all the talk of curing cancer from some unknown plant in the jungle at that time).  Anyway, my memory of this dream is freakishly long and detailed.  When I woke up I thought it was a sign I was going to at least work in some way or other to help others.

Then I was diagnosed with type 1 (the same year).  I felt ok for the first 6 months.  I was driven to succeed.  Then reality set it.  Diabetes was a bitch.  And I was stuck with it until someone lived my dream (in my child’s mind) and cured it?  Oh no no no this was not ok.  I got negative about it pretty quickly.  I felt my personality changing.  With every passing year I was further and further from myself.  I couldn’t help anyone-I couldn’t help me.

In my early 20’s, after depressing times due to friends dying and other losses and major fear over my physical and mental health, I began to turn around.  I tried to come back to myself.  That really was the way I thought of it.  I would remember how I was a positive kid, with a ton of spirit and wonder, and with a yearning to act on the compassion I felt for others.

So to wrap this up what I’m saying is that I can be ME despite my diabetes and because my journey has been as I described, that feels rather victorious.  I know diabetes can pull us away from all the good parts of ourselves with constant stress and suffering.  This is something I will constantly continue to struggle with.  But, I feel very much myself these days and for that I’m quite grateful.

Diabetes In the Wintertime

Winter is a particularly challenging time for many people.  That would include people like myself, who might also have diabetes to perpetually deal with.  So while I may gain the obligatory 5 holiday pounds, take Vitamin D supplements, and read a lot of books (like many do during this time) it also means my diabetes management is strained.  My workouts have continued-I do kettle bell swinging and yoga instead of going outside for walks or runs.  I have been sipping a lot of herbal tea and soups to keep warm and hydrated.  But little things like checking my blood sugar feel like more of an inconvenience.  I’m cold, in cuddle mode with this blanket, and have to squeeze my finger extra hard to get a decent drop of blood out.

I’ve been doing alright, I think.  My routine psychologically matches my home-a cozy 900 sq ft cabin surrounded by cool, peaceful, swaying pines and grey branches.  I get up, do some yoga stretches, make coffee or tea, and make the kids and I breakfast.  Then we read, play, experiment, play some more, and whenever they are occupied without me, I read what I want.  It feels very cozy and small and slow.  I have to trick myself not to feel unimportant.  Though I know the goal isn’t to feel important, either.  So I just try to be.  Be ok with the weather, be ok with me. I’s easier said than done.  We’ve been trained to be as productive as possible.  It’s definitely busier in the Spring.  I get on an efficient diabetes management routine and am carried through the day by the light, warmth, and growth all around me.

Right now I take it easy.  I think about what habits I have and decide which I’d like to change.  And as a friend recently reminded me, I can use the Wintertime as a space for reflection and pause, knowing it will soon lead to those sunny, life affirming days that happen to be more my style.  Not to pick on any of you crazy winter lovers…but, you’re a little nuts.  ;)

Wednesday Revisit: The Biggest Threat to your Diabetes Control

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This post outlines the toughest thing I’ve ever dealt with aside from the diabetes itself.  I know I’m not alone and I am happy to report I’ve discovered that it’s possible to treat this and feel better.  I’m talking about depression and I’m sure I’m not alone in my experience…

Originally posted on October 12, 2009

The Biggest Threat to your Diabetes Control

Journal Entry: One Month Before Diagnosis

 

 

I have written in a diary or journal since age 9.  I dusted the cover of my first diary the other day and found an entry for October 4th, 1994, exactly one month before I would end up in the hospital with type 1 diabetes at age 11.

Today I’m thinking about Halloween and because it makes me think of costumes, it also makes me think about what I want to do when I grow up.  I think maybe I want to go to Egypt and be an archaeologist.  Or maybe an ice skater.  Or a professional soccer player.  Then again, I really like helping people so maybe I’ll grow up to be a doctor or teacher.  I don’t know.  All I know is I like to help people, especially diabetics like Ana. 

I wonder if God remembers our deal?  I hope he knows I’m serious about having Him give me diabetes as long as he takes it away from Ana.  She is only 3, I’m 11, and a good sister should take the hardship away from her little sister right?  Anyway, I keep praying my plan will go according to plan.  Talk to ya next time, Diary.

Try This When Diabetes Gets Hard

 

 

I honestly don’t remember where I heard this…but I once read something where a long distance runner from Kenya was asked “how on earth” he runs so many miles at a time with seemingly little effort (we’re talking 20-some miles at a time, several times a week!)  His reply was really interesting.  He said something like, “When it gets harder, I get easier.”

I had to think about what he meant for a minute.  I never felt too sure until one day I tried something different.  Usually, seeing a blood sugar over 300 brings me down.  My mood shoots down, my energy, my thoughts, my productivity, everything.  This time I remembered what the Kenyan said.  And instead of allowing a negative rush to take over me, “I got easier”.  Meaning, I accepted the reality and decided I wasn’t going to go weak or upset over it.  Instead, I took a few deep breathes and gave myself insulin.  Then I went back to work without focusing on how I didn’t feel well.  An hour later I tested and made sure I was coming down.  I was 190.  Another deep breathe.  I continued working.  Eventually it was lunch time and I was 92.  Time to eat!  That wasn’t so bad, I thought.

I realized how the same would have happened had I gotten all worked up only staying calm and relaxed really helped me enjoy the 2 hours between that 300 reading and lunch-and I was productive at work.  Making the decision to let the anger and frustration go did take effort but, It was definitely easier than fighting a fight that wouldn’t lead to anything positive. 

So many of us do this with our diabetes.  Next time something gets you down, remember that sometimes allowing yourself to get extremely frustrated doesn’t do you any good at all.  And if you just “get easier”, you might find the ride a lot more pleasant and be amazed at all you can accomplish.

Handling Diabetes Gracefully

 

I find that most of us diabetics are pretty emotional people.  It’s hard not to be.  Sometimes this leads us to voice our frustrations in a passionate light.  Sometimes we aren’t so much passionate as we are offensive, however.   I have recently been thinking about children with diabetes (I used to be one) and have noticed that the kids with diabetes seem to have more grace than many of the adults living with diabetes.

This is due to the nature of children.  They are whimsical, forgiving, hopeful, optimistic, and they live in the moment.  We adults are famous for losing many of those traits as we leave childhood.  You’d think life would get easier with more practice but instead it gets harder and we diabetics quickly get worn out.

I remember feeling depressed as a child and still getting up in the morning, making good grades, having fun with friends, and playing a good game of soccer.

Now if I feel depressed, even brushing my teeth is a tall order.

I strive to publicly handle diabetes with grace.  I try not to whine and be overly negative and I try not to shoot out generalized statements about diabetes, knowing it may hurt another diabetic’s feelings.  If I break down I do it in private or in front of my husband or family.  Yet, I long to be that little kid whose eyes always sparkled when someone asked me about diabetes.  I’d answer eloquently and try to be descriptive and positive, yet realistic.  Now I have to be very careful not to depress the person I’m talking to about diabetes.  I mean the subject, overall, is depressing.  But, I’ve found that people don’t want to help the depressed person as much as they want to find out more about the one whose eyes sparkle.  Anything positive and hopeful is simply more attractive than something sad and gloomy.

As we fight to bring about massive diabetes awareness I propose a challenge:  That we all attempt to let the joyful life inside of us win over the destructive cloud that is diabetes.  That we try to write about diabetes in a more elegant way.  That we perhaps leave out phrases like “people who don’t understand diabetes disgust me” and any general pancreas bashing (your pancreas is not to blame).  When we say these things, people who don’t know about our diabetes are not attracted to us and therefore do not learn much about diabetes from us.  When we are honest yet, pleasant and positive, people are attracted to us and are much more willing to hear what we have to say.  Thus, our attempt at spreading diabetes awareness is more successful.  It’s a difficult balance, to be honest.  How do we get the message out there about the harsh realities of this disease and keep people’s attention?  It’s not easy.

My tendency is to say that we want others to notice that we are not full of bitterness, but instead hope, that we are not hateful, but instead forgiving, that we love life despite diabetes instead of walk around with doom written on our foreheads.  Then they will be inspired, enamored of our cause, and motivated to fight with us and for us.

We need their help, I don’t think we’ll make it alone.  Insurance costs are only getting more difficult to manage, healthy food is not the easy choice to make, and so many diabetics are lacking primary resources.

If we show others how special we are instead of what a burden we are, they will be on our side.  Again, children do this naturally.  My two kids cost me an arm and a leg (financially and emotionally speaking).  But, I would give my life for their sparkling eyes and bright smiles alone.  Maybe we should take a hint from them.

The Diabetic Girl’s Playlist

  This is a contributing post by Ana Morales.  She is into all kinds of music and has phenomenal playlists (that I like to steal) so I asked her to write something about music.  Love of music and diabetes is something we all have in common and not only is music entertaining, it can be quite a life saver, too.

 

To me, listening to music is a wonderful way to relieve stress and feel better on a not-so-good day. The following playlist contains songs that are not only great musically, but also contain messages that we as diabetics can apply to our lives. For each song I have selected a phrase or multiple phrases that I felt were especially inspirational. Read on and enjoy!

 

 1.  “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles

“There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.” For years the Beatles have blessed the world and the music industry with simple yet extremely memorable songs. This particular song reminds us that when we put love into everything we do, we can do anything. Keeping an open heart as you work to maintain control of your diabetes will allow you to accept challenges and overcome them.  

 

 

 2.  “The Heart of Life” by John Mayer

“You know its nothing new, bad news never had good timing.” How many times have we told ourselves, “This is the worst thing that could happen to me right now…”? Well at what time would you have preferred it? We can’t let ourselves dwell on the bad things that have happened to us. Instead, we have to put our energy into learning, moving forward, and improving.

 

 3.  “Soul to Squeeze” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Its bitter baby and its very sweet. I’m on a rollercoaster, but I’m on my feet.” Even during times of sickness, extreme stress, or just hard times, we have to remember to stay on our feet because diabetes never takes a break.

 

 4.  “Float On” by Modest Mouse

“Bad news comes, don’t you worry even when it lands. Good news will work its way to all them plans.” Here it is again! Keep moving forward!

 

 5.  “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

Hallelujah is a Hebrew word which means ‘Glory to the Lord.’ The song explains that many kinds of Hallelujahs do exist. I say: All the perfect and broken Hallelujahs have an equal value. It’s a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion.” These are not lyrics; rather, it is how Cohen described the meaning behind this infamous song, which I find to be more important. Diabetes may not be something we love having, but it is something we are able to learn from and take advantage of. Read 5 Things I have gained from having diabetes  for a more in-depth discussion on this.

 

 6.  “Fix You” by Coldplay

“When you try your best, but you don’t succeed. When you get what you want, but not what you need…” Remain faithful and don’t give up when your efforts seem fruitless. Every step you take towards a healthier life will be worth it in the end.

 

 7.  “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley & The Wailers

“Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be alright.” Maintaining a positive attitude will help you in all aspects of your life, including your diabetes control.

 

 8.  “Suddenly I See” by KT Tunstall

“She’s got the power to be, the power to give, the power to see.” Despite having this terrible disease, you are SO able to do things! Be thankful for that and don’t waste a second feeling sorry for yourself.

 

 9.  “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World

“It just takes some time, little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride. Everything everything will be just fine. Everything everything will be alright, alright.” What he said. Be patient and know that goals are reachable but not all are achieved immediately. Don’t be discouraged when you don’t see results as soon as you had hoped.

 

 10.  “Dream City” by Free Energy

“You know deep down you can find a better way. Tired of feeling bad, don’t you wonder why you keep telling yourself it’s alright.” Another good point. Even several of the songs on this list say that “everything will be alright.” This is true, but only if you make an effort to make everything alright. You have to learn and accept that getting better requires hard work and sacrifice. Don’t expect everything to be easy.

 

 11.  “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae

“Maybe sometimes we feel afraid, but it’s alright.” Remember to take time to relaxxx! Don’t be fooled; that is also part of taking care of yourself. Diabetes is a scary thing, but its controllable, so don’t let it take over your life.

 

 12.  “Help Yourself” by Sad Brad Smith

“But we’re willing to wait on you. We believe in everything that you can do if you would only lay down your mind. I want you to try to help yourself.” Be thankful for the people in your life that have helped you along the way, but don’t solely depend on them. You are the person in charge when it comes to your health so don’t neglect that responsibility.

 

 13.  “Lost” by Coldplay

“Just because I’m hurting, doesn’t mean I’m hurt.” There are moments in our lives that seem especially bad, but don’t let those moments bring you down. Instead, learn from them.

 

 14.  “Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root

“Send me on my way.” Don’t let diabetes stop you from doing what you love. Just be cautious and ready to adapt if necessary in order to maintain good control.

 

 15.  “We Are the Champions” by Queen

“But it’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise. I consider it a challenge before the whole human race, and I ain’t gonna lose.” This popular sports event song is also the perfect anthem for us diabetics. Everyday we make it through with this disease is proof of how strong we are, even when we don’t feel like it.

 

 16.  “Beautiful Day” by U2

“It’s a beautiful day, don’t let it get away.” Enjoy your life. Diabetes doesn’t have to stop you from doing that.

 

 17.  “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways.” Once again, it starts with you. Commit to taking care of yourself and others will be inspired to do the same.

 

 18.  “McFearless” by Kings of Leon

“So I know I must show, its my show, I must go, with my soul, not my hand, where I stand, its my role, its my soul. “ Let out your inner rock star and live life with confidence and passion. Do what is necessary, even if it scares you.

 

 19.  “Soul Meets Body” by Death Cab for Cutie

“I want to live where soul meets body, and let the sun wrap its arms around me, and bathe my skin in water cool and cleansing, and feel, feel what its like to be new.” Take time to pamper yourself every once in a while, even if it’s just an at-home pedicure or five extra minutes in the shower.

 

 20.  “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy

“Oh yes, I am wise, but its wisdom born of pain. Yes, I paid the price, but look how much I gained. If I have to, I can do anything. I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman.” Learn from your mistakes; God knows we all make them. Grow and teach others the things you’ve learned on your journey. And most importantly, be the strong, invincible woman you know you can be!

Eternal optimism for diabetics

 

Some readers have asked me, “How do you stay so positive about diabetes all the time?”  This is a really interesting question for me because I’m a notoriously moody gal and while I wouldn’t say I’m negative I would say I’m definitely not the happy go lucky type.

I have worried about my parents dying, getting old, how my hair looks, and starving kids in Africa since I was 5 years old. To be honest with you I’ve become quite tired of all the worry. In recent years I’ve learned the power of thoughts. I have learned that when you think you can’t-well, you’re probably right. So I’ve been retraining my brain.

Doing so has helped my diabetes immensely. This in turn has helped every other area of my life. The key, I have found, is to allow normal emotions to spill as needed and simply not linger on those emotions.

So here are a few tips and ideas for maintaining an “eternal optimism” meanwhile still allowing room for natural human emotions.

 

Instead of striving to “never fail”, strive to always “bounce back”

This is one of the most important traits found in people who manage to achieve a lot in life. Even children are well known for having this ability. It is the reason they are so resilient and manage to be so happy and energetic in the midst of less than ideal circumstances.

When you encounter a 300 blood sugar reading, don’t wallow and agonize about it. Instead, do what you need to do to get it down. You can make yourself comfortable in the process, find something productive or enjoyable to do while you are coming down, and test again soon.

Don’t forget you are human

We literally need to fail. It is how we grow. It is how we come to life changing realizations. It is why we are able to appreciate the moments that do go our way. If we never failed wouldn’t we just be arrogant, bored, and uninteresting people?

What you do want is to be able to react positively and proactively. Remember, when you skip a couple of work outs, don’t beat yourself up. Go and work out the first chance you get. Like a former boss of mine used to say every time someone began a bad habit, just “hurry and nip it in the bud!”

Carefully monitor your self-talk

This is what you say to yourself in your head (although possibly out loud when no one is around). If you are saying negative things to yourself, try turning that around and saying only positive and hopeful things. Example: Don’t say “I’m never going to get my A1c down”, say, “My A1c is going to improve”.

My self-talk used to be really positive. I am told by family that when I was about 4 years old I would walk around saying “Sysy is pretty” and “Sysy is smart”. By the time I was 11 years old I said very different things to myself. I put myself down all of the time. I told myself I was too shy or too ugly for school and what happened? I could barely talk in front of the class. This frustrated me to no end so I began saying instead, “I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’m a great person”. Soon I was being myself and making new friends every day. I was amazed by how powerful self-talk was. It either motivated me to better myself or dragged me into the ground. All I had to do was choose to be positive towards myself.

Cry me a river

Anytime you feel sad, frustrated, or upset with your diabetes (or anything) let those emotions out. Nike says “Just do it”. I say, “Just feel it”. It’s natural to feel these strong emotions when you deal with something so ongoing as diabetes. Next time you get frustrated go ahead and stomp, grunt, whine. Get it out and move on. Don’t take things out on others, just let your emotions out. 

Cry as needed. Maybe not at work but, at home when you get a moment alone. Just let it out for a few minutes. It helps release the stressful energy inside of you and helps restore mental clarity.

Use the power of humor

Something that helps me is to poke fun at myself.  In theory it doesn’t make me feel better but, in reality it does!  Try it.  Laughter really is good medicine.

Talk to someone

We women are all about talking about our feelings. Find a friend who lets you vent and once you are done, change the subject to something positive. Don’t vent forever or your friend will catch the blues from you. You just want to let feelings out so you can regain your strength and confidence quickly and move on.

So remember, laugh, cry, rant, talk as needed and then pick yourself up and smile. You can have eternal optimism and this strength will carry you gracefully through all of life’s ups and downs with diabetes.

Now what about you?  What helps you stay positive in light of diabetes?  Share with us in the comments!

5 things that are worse than having diabetes

 

Sometimes this kind of thinking makes me feel better.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  Tonight, I’ll give it a shot:

 5.  The girl or guy who has every advantage in life, except no goals or aspirations thus wandering about all lost.

4.  Being diabetic and allergic to insulin.  Yikes, just the thought of it.

3.   Being poor.  Like, no food, clothing, or shelter poor.

2.  Being denied or robbed of basic human rights.

1.  The loss of hope.  Where I’m originally from (Venezuela) there is a saying, “Hope is the last thing to go.”  When one gets to that point…I’d say that really blows.  I’d say that the day I lose hope in a cure for diabetes, hope in all our abilities to maintain our health and sanity, that will be the day diabetes beats me.

When you’re feeling defeated or tired, think about what you do have.  It is clichéd and yet, so true.

hang in there…and good night!

When your glucose management hits rock bottom

I refer to hitting “rock bottom” as an inevitable occasion where you think you have decent control and then (often through a chain of unfortunate events) find yourself at an extreme low point-such as being unable to test or binge eating.

 For whatever reason-sickness, a new exercise regime, lots of new stress, a big life change, you are dealing with high blood sugars for a day or a week-or longer.  It feels awful and it sweeps you out of your feel good diabetes routine.

A tiny downward spiral occurs:  You have a high blood sugar reading several times in a row or in a day and begin to feel upset about it.  You may overcorrect with insulin out of frustration and suffer a few low blood sugar episodes.  Then you feel even worse and decide to skip your workout for the day, or you go ahead and eat that pastry you know you don’t really want to eat because you figure your day has already been shot.

Next thing you know you’ve gone a few days feeling consistently awful and you feel out of control.  You wonder how you let yourself slip.  You wonder how you’ll muster up the strength to force discipline upon yourself again and regain control.  Its hard when you feel bad to feel motivated so your lack of energy worries you.

This has happened to me so many times.  For me, getting back on the horse has been as important as riding the horse (don’t ask)  It was through persevering through these moments when I felt I was at my lowest.  Here is how I handle rock bottom now and use hard times to propel me towards steady diabetes management:

1.  Emotionally retreat from the situation

This means let go of your anger, frustration, hurt, and pain just long enough to step back and take a logical look at your situation.  Think about how your emotions stop you from regaining control and realize that your high blood sugar can be fixed rather quickly and you can soon pretend it never even happened.  Don’t look back, just fix your current mishap and move on.

2.  Ask yourself some questions

Ask yourself, “Is this high blood sugar episode temporary?”  “Will tomorrow be a better day?”  “Am I human and prone to failing once in a while?”  The answer to all of these questions is YES!  When we freak out or get depressed we do so because we lose PERSEPCTIVE.  Remember there is always hope, there is always tomorrow, you have survived worse, and you WILL be just fine!

3.  Live in the present

We have heard this a million times.  Perhaps because it is so true and yet so few of us have managed to do this consistently.  From now on, practice living in the present with your diabetes management.  When your blood sugar is less than ideal, stop yourself immediately from worrying about future complications or how your day is going to be ruined.  Instead, take necessary steps to fix your blood sugar and take a deep breathe.  Continue living your life, checking back with your blood sugar to make sure it has been corrected, and then think like it never happened.  Do learn from mistakes!  But, don’t linger on the horror of your last 300 reading or beat yourself up.  Diabetes is exhausting and you are not a machine programmed to never fail.  Remember that.

4.  Use rock bottom moments to improve yourself

When I hit bottom I think to myself, “Well, there is nowhere to go but up”.  Its true.  You can only do better.  This gives me hope and motivation to not only to better, but to do better than EVER.  I’ve always set goals for myself.  I’m amazed at how far I’ve come.  I used to try to “Get A1c lowered to a 7%”  Now I try to “Maintain A1c under 5%”.  I used to “Workout 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes”.  Eventually that goal turned into “Run 3 miles every day and do yoga for 30 minutes every day”.  Set doable goals for yourself and as you reach them, set the bar a little higher.  Do take small steps so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

5.  Last but not least:  Plan ahead

This is where you are allowed to think about the future.  I have found that planning ahead helps tremendously.  For example:  Always keep emergency supplies for lows or highs in purse.  If getting on a plane, don’t give insulin within 2 hours of departure and keep something for a low in pocket.  When you’ve had a hard day, plan a fun activity for the weekend to give yourself a distraction and something fun to look forward to.  Anything positive helps ward off depression caused by a tough blood sugar day or week.

So there are a few things I try to do to help myself overcome the inevitable.  Diabetes is hard and we have to be harder and smarter to combat it.  Share your tips in the comments!  I’d love to know what other diabetics find success with.

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