Diabetes and Depression—Anxiety

March 24th, 2010 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

I am not a medical provider.  If you think you or someone you love is clinically depressed or needs professional help, seek out that help immediately.  Now.  This is what matters.

I think depression in people and in kids living with diabetes is more situational than chemical.  If there is a link between diabetes and depression, how can we avoid negative consequences of depression while we take care of our diabetes, or support someone living with the disease?

Diabetes and Depression—Anxiety

Living with anxiety is a part of living with diabetes.  Most of the time this is just an underlying constant check of my body that I run throughout every day.  Sometimes, though, it affects how I treat myself and my disease; I wish I did a better job for myself on that.

The other day I was leading bootcamp and for some reason I went low with about 10 minutes left of class.  I’m not always good at knowing when I am low versus when I’m just hungry (especially at bootcamp, when I eat a little something before but have breakfast after class) so I thought maybe I was just hungry.  My meter was in my car, about 10 yards away from where I was leading class, but they would not have been able to see or hear me if I went to my car.  I don’t have a problem checking in front of others, nor do I have a problem eating in front of them.  (Although I could deal with less “are you eating CANDY?!” teasing from those who don’t yet know I have type one diabetes.)  I was just trying to make it through the stretches at the end of class and go to my car to check and drink juice.  So, I made the decision to just keep going and then end class two minutes early.

I understand that no one would have asked or expected me to keep leading class if I needed to go check and drink some juice.  Sometimes, though, especially when I’m low, going through the “type 1 versus type 2” conversation and questions from others feels overwhelming.  It can also be too much for me when I say I’m low and seven people nervously ask me what they can do.  I’m just low; it isn’t a big event for me.  For others who don’t live with diabetes I guess it’s a bigger thing.

When I got to my meter, I was 49. 

Now, please keep in mind:  I eat the exact same thing every morning at the exact same time and take the exact same amount of insulin.  When I lead bootcamp, I generally demonstrate a few moves and then watch and correct the bootcampers’ form on the exercises rather than exercise myself.  I still can’t explain why I went low that day.

I know one low isn’t a big deal.  I’ve had diabetes for 22 years and so there have been a lot of lows, and a load of experiences exactly like the one I just described.  But for someone new to diabetes, and for someone not as comfortable with their disease or who wants to hide it from others, this situation creates a lot of anxiety.  

I think a good approach is to lay everything out there, for a few key people in your life.  You can’t explain everything to everyone all the time, and that’s okay.  I know at my law office I am always open to questions about my diabetes.  I don’t have a problem explaining something to someone, and would always rather answer than perpetuate misinformation (“so you can’t eat sugar?” etc).  But sometimes I just say “diabetes” if someone I don’t know looks quizzically at me and what I’m doing.  That one word shuts them up pretty quickly, believe it or not.

Living with diabetes means I need to plan and prepare for a complete range of glucose readings, and I know that even if I plan and prepare for it all I still won’t get it 100%.  The more I can make my diabetes simply a part of who I am and not something foreign and scary that requires seven anxious people to run and get me a juice box, the better. 

Although, maybe I should appreciate anything that gets those bootcampers to run even faster…

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