Tag Archives: diabetes and depression

Diabetes Body Issues

 

It’s clear that diabetes easily harbors an environment of self-destruction.  So many of us deal with food issues, weight issues, discipline issues, can’t-remember-to-test-no-matter-what-I-do issues and serious depression issues.

My biggest problem, the one causing the most woe anyway, has been my constant negative body image.  Before being a diabetic I was thin and healthy, active and smart.  I remember getting compliments all the time.  So what?  Despite this I felt sick to my stomach when I looked in the mirror.  So when I did get diabetes my already budding self image problem just snowballed.  For the record, I think this tendency stems from my perfectionistic nature which is good for some things and often terrible for other things-like general happiness and satisfaction.

As a teenager, I was very aware that I gained weight because the R and NPH insulin mix I was prescribed forced me to eat 3 meals and 3 snacks a day.  It was too much food.  In fact, I rarely snacked before becoming diabetic.  Those years of frustration turned into a decade of what I might look back on as the time I heavily struggled with an eating disorder.  I didn’t skip meals or insulin, nor did I ever throw up.  But, I thought about food all day and how much I absolutely hated it and when I ate, I didn’t enjoy a single bite.  I would wish we didn’t have to eat to live.  For a diabetic, having to eat really complicates things.  

So when I lost a lot of weight, many years later, I felt I could try loving myself again.  I don’t know why it’s such a big deal for me.  I would say it’s definitely a problem I have.  Because I would never say to anyone else that this thinking or behavior is healthy and normal you know?  (Although it seems relatively common)  Frankly, I don’t think it’s helped me that I’m from Venezuela, the land of Miss Universe winners.  “You’re from Venezuela?!  Wow, all the women in your family must be really attractive!”  And of course, they are.  So sure, no pressure… 

I’m still adamant about losing weight.  The last time I lost a significant amount of weight (35 pounds) my feet and knees felt relieved and I could use some more alleviation.  I also want to fit into the clothes I have instead of buy new clothes.  I put up a goal for myself to lose 20 pounds starting this past August.  Since then I’ve gained 5 pounds.  Yes, those pounds have been muscle-which is great, but now I really can’t fit into my clothes! 

So I’m still going for 20 pounds lost.  For my feet, my knees, to lower my insulin resistance, and doggone it-to fit into my stashes of smaller sized clothes.  I know I’ll do it soon.  I just hope I can feel satisfied with my efforts and myself in general, no matter what I weigh.  I don’t want to hit 115 pounds and still feel lousy.

Sighh…am I the only one?  Any tips?

My Diabetes Blood Pressure Experience

 

I have always worried about my blood pressure.  I have struggled with handling stress ever since I was a young child and I can admit I’m still not good at managing it.  High blood pressure runs on both sides of the family so it has always seemed unavoidable to me. 

Several years ago I had a lithotripsy procedure for a large kidney stone and since then have had what they call “borderline high blood pressure” and sometimes high blood pressure.  At the time I was working a job that I truly hated.  So much so that some mornings instead of go to work, I’d veer off into another direction, stop at a park, and trembling, stare at the birds and the trees.  I was suffering panic attacks.  I had been having them for years but, had eventually managed to get a good grip on them except for some days while on my way to work. 

After five years I escaped that job (more on that later) and went to another one that stressed me out too, only it paid well and was a challenging learning experience.  After 30 days and a few more panic attacks I managed to launch myself into a different job that not only was I unqualified for but, paid well, and agreed to pay for the remainder of my college education (including masters degree) and allowed me to travel to new places.   (Like I said, more on that in another post)

I noticed that during my time of job transitions, my blood pressure remained borderline high and just plain high, which sincerely worried me.  Then I got married and less than two months later became pregnant.  Throughout the pregnancy my blood pressure was stable but, carrying twins is not an easy task.  In 7 months I about doubled the quantity of blood in my body and towards the end I could feel my blood pressure rising.  Frequent doctor visits confirmed this and by the time my babies were born by c-section my blood pressure was 188/85.  I felt like my heart was in my throat and my head might explode.  I truly sympathized with anyone who suffers from high blood pressure-it feels awful.  The only reason my babies were born 4 weeks early is because of my blood pressure so I didn’t take the issue lightly.  During the c-section that I was awake for, I remember praying that my babies would be healthy and that my eyes and kidneys would just hang on for the bumpy ride.

Six weeks after I gave birth my blood pressure was still a little high so I felt like my borderline era was over and I’d now have high blood pressure to deal with for the rest of my life. 

Funny thing happened, though, and this is what I want to share with you. 

I stayed home with my babies and still do, a year and a half later.  I quickly discovered that two premature newborn babies is the highest form of stress I’ve personally ever experienced.  My heart skipped a beat any time it seemed like their breathing missed a beat, I fought tooth and nail to breastfeed them (and gloriously failed), I used a breast pump every three hours for months despite painful nipple and breast infections, I struggled with adjusting my new insulin needs, and I did all this with little sleep.  You know how mothers of a newborn child sleep about 5 hours a night?  New mothers of twins sleep about 2.5 hours a night..  I felt like between all of the above and my blood pressure, I just wasn’t going to make it.  In fact, I said that every day for the first 8 months, I believe. 

Oh yes, I haven’t told you the funny thing that happened.  After a few months I started feeling healthier.  My attitude changed.  I no longer saw a 200 blood sugar reading as a tragedy.  When my husband got laid off, I was like, “Ohh we’ll be FINE!”  And this wasn’t like me at all, the whole “see the cup as half full” type of thing.  I felt like nothing could knock me down anymore.  At least not as easily as before.  Over the months my blood pressure began lowering.  When my kids turned a year old just after my 27th birthday my doctor mentioned the possibility of me taking blood pressure medication.  But then we took my blood pressure which was 124/78 so no medication was needed.  I started going to the gym more and taking the kids out to the playground several times a week .  I drank less coffee and more peppermint tea. 

Then my blood pressure lowered to 115/74.  Then 113/70.  And last week, 112/70. 

Am I saying that having twins helped my blood pressure?  No.  I don’t know if having children helps blood pressure.  To me, it wouldn’t make sense to say so.  Several things helped my blood pressure, I think.  For one, surviving the most difficult year of my entire life helped because when you survive something you think might end you, it makes the usual challenges look more scalable.  It really has been rough, looking back.   I’ve not once hired a babysitter and I never leave my kids for more than an hour or two.  There has been a lot of physical pain and injury from holding two children so much (which I have stubbornly insisted to do-especially if they’re the only ones I ever have).  And I’m not saying I recommend this.  Why, it’s all kind of nutty.  And it makes me loopy, for sure.  And yet, choosing to let go of a huge work opportunity and forego great money for something I’m more passionate about has been one of the most empowering thing I’ve experienced.  By doing this I’ve taken a break from the outside world and it has helped me recoup and focus on what really matters.  I don’t regret losing that great job because even though the perks were enormous, I enjoy more, the perks of staying home with my kids and writing about diabetes.  And who knows what the future brings?  I feel like a ton of bricks has been lifted off of my shoulders and not only is diabetes management easier, I’m having great health benefits, too.   

You might have heard before that one of the greatest obstacles to diabetes management is how the disease affects someone emotionally and psychologically.  Personally, when I’ve been happy, I’ve done well with diabetes discipline and have maintained good diabetes management.  When I’ve been unhappy or stressed, my diabetes has directly suffered as a result.  I do hope doctors take note. 

Who knows, maybe my blood pressure lowering is due to healthy eating, plentiful exercise, two cute, funny babies that keep me on my toes, and a husband that is beside me on every difficult journey.  And perhaps also my willingness to sacrifice the type of opportunity people call you crazy for sacrificing in turn for doing what I feel is best for my family and following my dreams.  It was never a difficult decision but, it sure took a lot of guts to carry out.

I don’t know how things will play out in life.  Maybe I’ll have to get a job, maybe my blood pressure will go up, soon.  I think I’ve learned however, that just when I think something isn’t possible, with hard work and the right choices, it is.

You’re So Worth It

 

I feel like I’ve arrived at a pretty decent place (wasn’t always this way).  It involves self appreciation and self respect.  It highly influences my diabetes management and my control of that pesky depression issue…

Maybe you’ve already noticed but, I’ve got a bit of a “loner” personality.  I’m not the type to bend to peer pressure and I never was a “social drinker”.  Heck I can enjoy champagne all by myself.  I used to love eating alone at a restaurant and even going to the movie theater alone.  And I didn’t go in hiding or as if ashamed to be alone.  Red lipstick and high heels came along for a fabulous night out with moi.  This had nothing to do with picking up a date or anything either.  It was about just getting excited to spend quality time with myself.  Long ago the thought of going out alone would have killed me.  Now I’ve romanticized the idea of taking care of myself and appreciating my own company.  I honestly have convinced myself it’s the cool and fabulous thing to do.  After all, we are all worth treating ourselves right, right? 

This doesn’t mean I put others last or that I always put myself first.  It just means that instead of bashing myself all day, I try to be nicer and more appreciative.  The way my body looks drives me bonkers since giving birth to twins but, ahh isn’t it nice how my belly stretched to absurd greats just to accommodate two new lives-kind of magical no?  Yes, it is.

People poke fun at me for being a total nerd, but on the other hand isn’t it fantastic when someone loves learning and gets excited over Albert Einstein’s quotes!?

And yes, I’m pretty bad about functioning in the morning but, maybe that just means I have more energy in the afternoon!

You need to do this for your amazing self.  Even if it feels a little silly. 

In many cases people hold their self-worth lower than other people.  This should change.

Example:  If you need to lose weight, tell yourself that you are so worth cooking healthy food for.  You are gorgeous and fabulous and deserve to take a little time out of your busy day to exercise.  When you want a third helping of cake, tell yourself you are worth the trouble it takes to restrain yourself.  (Sometimes this means I tell my husband to take it away from me but, hey, same outcome)

Maybe one of these days you could plan a date night for you and yourself.  Just go somewhere you like-the coffee shop or a bistro or theater or ball game and enjoy your own company.  Treat yourself nice, get a nice meal or snack, spiff yourself up (in your own style/fashion of course), and don’t you dare think a negative thing about yourself the entire time!  Think about your strengths and appreciate the parts of your body that are working properly, as opposed to thinking about your pancreas-don’t even stop there for a second.

You’d be surprised how much this will help guide your decisions regarding your diabetes management in favor of wonderful you.

When you hit bottom there is no where to go but up

 

Something I’ve been thinking about lately has been fueled by reading what fellow diabetes writers/bloggers have been saying.  So many of us feel like we’re living life on the edge and in fact, I would say that living with type 1 diabetes IS the epitome of living life on the edge.  It would be more fun to do by choice like these brave/foolish people but instead we are literally forced to make life/death decisions all day long.  And yes, we could say that we all make those decisions-like when we drive (shall I stop at this red light or continue?) but, the truth is that we’re walking on a tight rope for a living.  It’s a breeding ground for those moments movies like to dramatize the most.  Those moments when we are at our limit.  I think this is when we are our weakest and our strongest.

Sometimes we are spiraling down…down…until something happens and finally stops the spiraling.  Why?  Because we’ve hit rock bottom.  I refer to rock bottom as a way of saying someone has hit a wall, emotionally or mentally.  For example, denial often ends when one finally gets forced to snap out of it and although they’ve now reached a low point, it’s also a turning point and the beginning of healthy and necessary change. 

When our diabetes management routine isn’t working for us we will often go days, weeks, or months plagued by it.  We’ll complain that our numbers are not where we want them to be and we’ll do our best to chase our high and low blood sugars, but we’re not necessarily focused on troubleshooting.  We’re too busy living.  Besides, we’re getting by alright.  But eventually we hit a wall and are finally so intensely frustrated or upset that we break down and have the chance to look at our problem from a new perspective and with a sense of despair and urgency.  This sounds awful but it’s really not.

The idea to write what you read on this website came to me about six years ago after I spent 48 hours being closed up in my room.  I had finally had enough of my high blood sugars and my general state of health and felt so frustrated I cried for oh I don’t know, maybe 4 hours straight.  Funny thing happened afterwards…all my frustration was gone (due to exhaustion) and a sense of calm came over me and I thought to myself “When you hit bottom there is no where to go but up”.  I laid on the floor of my messy room-messy because I threw everything all over the place in a fit of emotional fury and that is when I came up with the idea for a book I would one day want to write.  Thus, the idea for The Girl’s Guide to Diabetes was born. 

There have been many of what I call “healthy breakdowns” and they have all led to some substantial improvement in my life.  I think it’s natural for humans although it’s probably a more frequent occurrence for us diabetics than for the rest of the population.  The key, I think is to realize that when you feel your lowest you are standing on the edge of something big.  You are facing an opportunity to face your mistakes logically (instead of emotionally), to forgive yourself, and to choose a different plan of action. 

Many great things in this world have been accomplished by those who have been pushed to their limits and forced to make important decisions.  So as diabetics, maybe we should think of ourselves as people with huge potential…

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