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Posted by on May 18, 2017 in General, Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes | 7 comments

Emotions, the second front

Emotions, the second front

Today is the fourth day of Diabetes Blog week.  Each day we have a prompt and are called to post a response.  You can read all responses at my friend Karen’s site Bitter~Sweet.  Also, please remember RABlog week will occur in September.  I hope you join the fun then as well.

Prompt:

Throwback Thursday: What Brings Me Down – Thursday 5/18

Today let’s revisit a prompt from 2014 – May is Mental Health Month so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for someone with, diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and / or your loved one, and how do you cope?

Mental health Matters

The emotional side of living with a chronic condition is sometimes the most difficult.  During my lifetime with diabetes, I have done it well, and I have done it poorly.  I also have thought of things that I believe could have made life better had they occurred at diagnosis.  So let’s dial back a bit and discuss 1974.

As I am fond of telling people I was diagnosed while at Disney World (shout out to Disney you owe me a vacation, because #DisneyGaveMeDiabetes).  I was not surprised; I was expecting it at some point because in those days if your parent had T1 diabetes you were told the odds were high that you would have it as well (of course we now know that is not true but remember this is 1974).

After driving from Florida to Indiana, I was given a fasting glucose test and hospitalized.  As I recall, my blood sugar was in the 500’s when I got to the hospital on June 16, 1974, and I was feeling bad.

Observation can be false

Still, I was not visibility upset; my mind was on getting out of the hospital, going backpacking and starting my senior year of high school, and of course young ladies. I was successful at being a teenager with diabetes. I got a job, got a car and started my semi-adult life on my way to college.

What I did not do, was stop and take care of the emotional side of having diabetes.  From most outside observers I was doing ok.  I was functioning and moving along, but inside I was self-destructing.  My self-destruction would lead to years of depression and some poor life choices.

What I have always wondered about is what might have been if during that first year I had seen a therapist.  No not really for treatment, though I think I would have been open to it at some level. Rather I wonder if seeing a therapist might have given me a lifeline to get help sooner as the years rolled along.  I may be suggesting something that would never have worked.  If it worked, it might have only worked for me and no one else.  Or, maybe others feel the same way?

Experience as a teacher

Based on my experience, I suggest that parents throw an emotional lifeline to their teenagers who have a chronic condition.  I know children are doing well but doing well as a teenager can sometimes mask issues.  I do not think a teen needs to enter intensive therapy; rather I suggest two to three visits where they get used to the process.  Not because they are on the verge of collapsing, in fact, quite the opposite.  I suggest kids need to know that as they age feelings of depression and lack of self-worth can destroy a person unless they get help.  Most of us (even without a chronic condition) face these issues sometimes, but if a person with a chronic condition finds themselves in such a situation, it can be devastating.  I prefer to think of it as a lifeline.  It may never be used, but if it is there, it can provide a way back.

It was 1974 and people did not see therapists.  However, given my life experience, I wish my parents had given me that lifeline.  It would have made a big difference in my life later on.

-30-

rick

7 Comments

  1. This post is so powerful Rick. I so wish I had someone to talk to when I was first diagnosed. I spent so much time in denial and seeing alternative healers who colluded in my denial that I actually missed getting the help I needed.

    • Rachel, I knwo i missed so much. Sheryl and I were discussing this during our morning coffee. It was a sad thing

  2. Kelly, You can be in our club. Since I founded it and I only know of 4 others you are in the group. One lady lives in London, she was dx’s at Disney Paris, one in Anaheim, and now three other in FL. Making Disney World the epicenter. LOL

  3. This is a wonderful piece Rick! And I do think your suggestion for teens with a chronic condition is an excellent one! I so wish parents weren’t so resistant to counselling here in Ireland- we’re still trying to shake that stigma. But I will be sharing this piece with anyone who will hear me!! Thank you.

    • Your note is exciting. I have spent an odd life as the result of depression with diabetes. I thank you so much for your kind words. Look later this year as I am working on a three part article that discusses the difficulty with untreated and unrecognized depression. The example I use (me) is will shock you. It does me and I lived it.

  4. Really good point, Rick. It’s made me think about my diabetes and the early years. At first, I thought, ‘well, I coped’. But that’s not quite true. I developed a lot of issues around eating which were exacerbated by diabetes. And eating disorders take years to work through. Thanks for this and all your work.

    • Thank you for the kind comment Emma. I am hopeful I will be getting some content around these parts as soon as the remodeling is complete, os it is nice to see some folks checking out my prior work. You know how remodels go? They take longer than anticipated, but I am hopeful for the end result.

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