August’s DSMA Blog Carnival topic touches on the link between diabetes and our emotional well-being when it asks the question:
What can a parent of a child with diabetes, or a person with diabetes, do to help reduce the emotional impact of caring for diabetes?
I’m going to start off by saying it’s okay to vent a little. When we’re doing everything we can to handle life and diabetes at the same time, and the hemoglobin A1c comes back higher than we’d hoped? At those times, it’s hard not to feel defeated. So it’s okay to let off a little steam and complain about how hard it is to maintain a healthy diet, exercise routine, BG checks, infusion set changes, and effective basal rates, along with work, school, kids, family, paying the bills, etc.
Once we’re through complaining, however, the cold hard facts are that we’ll have to get up tomorrow and diabetes will still be with us. We’ll have to do that fingerstick and that bolus before we start in on breakfast. And knowing that, in those moments, is where it really gets hard sometimes.
Enter the Diabetes Online Community. At any time of day, in every corner of the world, it seems, there are people who understand exactly what you’re experiencing. Because they’ve been through it themselves. When you reach out in those moments, these individuals are there to console you and support you. They make you stronger by reminding you that you are not alone, and you can keep going. Empowering, without judgment. Just perform a Twitter search for the hashtag #DOC. When I checked recently, I found a dozen or so recent conversations of support, tips, and other examples of people in the community giving a leg up to those who need it, when they need it most.
Certainly, we can try to lighten up on ourselves. Caring for our diabetes or our child’s diabetes is difficult, taxing work. It requires both physical and mental strength and stamina. How many times per day do we perform math calculations? How often do we check glucose? Have we treated overnight lows and lows at work? You bet we have. And we do this every day, usually with the only promise that we’ll have to do the same thing again tomorrow. So while it’s important to stay on top of things as much as possible, we can’t always kick ourselves for missing the occasional bolus or miscounting the carbs on the dinner plate. None of us is perfect—we will make the occasional mistake. We cannot let it define who we are. Overcoming those difficult diabetes moments is what makes us champions.
Last, but not least, when all else fails, we know that there are professionals who can help us deal with the emotional pitfalls that come with years of caring for a chronic disease. More people than you can imagine have already reached out for that extra measure of consultation and feedback to get their emotions on track again. It’s nice to know that when we need it, there is an extra layer of care to be found.
There are a number of things that try to get in the way of us living a fantastic life, while living with or caring for diabetes. Hopefully, those setbacks are minor. Emotions (sometimes, raw emotions) are part of our entire package. But they don’t have to drag us down. By venting a little, commiserating with our online pals, letting ourselves off the hook now and then, and reaching out for professional help when we need it, using the tools available to us helps us to reduce the emotional impact of caring for, or living with, diabetes in our lives.
This post is my August entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival. If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at http://diabetescaf.org/2013/08/august-dsma-blog-carnival-3/