Diabetes and Mental Health: How to handle the fears that come with dia - ExpressionMed

Diabetes and Mental Health: How to handle the fears that come with diabetes

February 03, 2022

Diabetes and Mental Health: How to handle the fears that come with diabetes

My Journey with Diabetes and Mental Health

Unbelievable fear. That is the best way I could describe my feelings on November 12th 2019. I sat in the diabetes education room, feeling shocked and completely numb. The only question that kept running through my head was, “What if my blood sugar goes so low I don't come out of it?" Going forward through the next couple months, these feelings about diabetes didn’t change. I refused to eat over 20 grams of carbs per meal to avoid a big blood sugar spike or a big IOB (insulin on board: insulin still actively working in your body after a bolus). If I was going to bed and my blood sugar was under 120, I would eat anything that would keep my blood sugar high throughout the night so I wouldn’t go low. Then one day, during my first big low, it hit me. My biggest fear about diabetes wasn’t having low blood sugar; it was dying from it. 

Currently, it’s 2022. I still struggle with the fear of dying from low blood sugar. It just isn’t nearly as bad as it once was. Making progress with this fear wasn’t easy. My first route was going to talk therapy. While this helped me sort out my emotions, It didn’t help me get to the stem of my fear. My second route was to give less insulin and run on the higher side (which I can tell you is NOT smart). Overall, that just does more damage mentally and physically. My third route is what has worked the best so far. As crazy as it sounds, I started to find the positives in my diabetes. 

So, whether you have a similar fear to me or you're going through a burnout period with your diabetes, I want you to ask yourself these 2 questions: What part of your diabetes makes you happy? How can you take your fears/difficult situations with diabetes and make a change? You may think I’m crazy, but I can confidently say that I can answer them, and I think you can too. 

  

Handling the fears of diabetes: My answers to these 2 questions 

What part of your diabetes makes you happy? 

#1: I get to style my diabetic devices. Honestly, if I couldn’t style them, there's a 40% chance I simply wouldn’t wear them. I love picking out my tapes every 10 days to make an ugly medical device look pretty. When I first got my CGM, it was one of the first things I did to motivate myself to put my sensor on. Eventually, it went from a special once a month treat to something I now do every 10 days. 
#2: I get to keep a stash of food everywhere, and no one can stop me. I keep candy in my car, purse, pants - if it has a pocket/pouch, you’ll find candy in it. I get to control what I put in my mouth to help pull me out of a low. It’s one of the things I can control in this disease and I love that. 

#3: You can make friends who also have diabetes. They’re the ones who will relate to you the most in this world and they’re the ones who will pull you out of dark times. All of my diabetic friends are from social media, and I credit them with changing my experience and outlook on the disease.

#4: Just a reminder -  you can get into all state parks for free with a disability (doctor's note required), and you can get accommodations at amusement parks. Avoiding lines AND saving money? Sounds like a deal to me. 

BAM! Four reasons diabetes makes me happy and could probably make you happy too. 

 

How can you take your fears/difficult situations and make a change?

Like I said earlier, when I was first diagnosed I was completely numb to the situation. I started following people who had diabetes on TikTok so I could find people to relate to. This turned into me starting a TikTok page so I could raise awareness of diabetes and start inspiring other diabetics. Eventually, I made videos on how to administer Glucagon, sensor changes, pump changes, talked about my own mental health and more. Not only has having TikTok helped me find a place where I feel I belong, but it’s connected me with great diabetes-related companies to work with as well. 

Overall, it’s about finding what makes you feel good. There will always be times of struggle, but just remember tomorrow is a new day. Don’t let one bad day keep you down. Good luck! ❤️

 

Anna Cicale-Civitelli



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