Tag Archives: depression

Dude, where’s my motivation?

I’ve got to tell you… I really hated writing this. I’m nervous about publishing this. I don’t enjoy thinking about this or talking about this.

I just have no motivation to accomplish anything related to diabetes right now.

Actually, that’s not true. I have had the motivation to do a number of things, but every time I get ready to do them, I just give up. I think to myself, “Well, maybe this isn’t a good idea, I don’t know if I should do this, maybe I should just think about doing this another time”. Or maybe never.

That’s not like me, generally. I’m more the guy who thinks, “So what? If I want to do something, I should just do it, hopefully I’ll help someone, and I can enjoy it as long as it lasts”. It’s the difference between things being fun, and things being competitive. I don’t do competitive anymore. I don’t like myself when I’m competitive, and I don’t usually do my best then either. When things are fun, I look forward to them, obviously, and yes, I seem to do my best work. Because it doesn’t seem like work. It’s just fun. And I feel a sense of purpose in what I’m doing, like there’s a greater meaning.

But it’s more than that. It’s really more a feeling that I am one step behind the curve, so to speak. Like those dreams where you’re running, but no matter how fast you run, you can’t run fast enough. I hate that feeling.

At the same time, my BGs are on the roller coaster more than they are off. My weight is at a very (for me, anyway) uncomfortable number. And as bad as it sounds, I’m really not interested in working to iron out the wrinkles in my diabetes at this point in time.

I don’t want to confuse lack of motivation, or lack of competitiveness, or a feeling of being behind the curve, with a diminished sense of advocacy. I’ll still fight for my rights as a Person With Diabetes, and for everyone living with diabetes, regardless of my state of mind. There is no time to lose. But there are some things I’ve started and stopped lately, and though they were never even given a chance to be failures, they still feel like failures. That’s bad medicine. It’s reflected in my BGs, how I look, and how I feel about literally everything.

Add to that a work schedule that has absolutely blown up over the past few months and promises to stay that way for the remainder of the year, and, oh yeah, knee surgery and the lack of chances to work out for a few months. I could really use a couple of days off, but nothing is on the horizon. And those workout-high endorphans, well… sometimes they’re just the right medicine. But that won’t be part of my regular routine for some time yet.

It feels utterly ridiculous to be whining about all of this right now. I’m not dealing with anything that anyone else doesn’t deal with, probably more often than I do. When it comes to having to live with diabetes, I’m one of the lucky few who has many options at his disposal to treat, get healthy, and keep on going. I’m just really tired right now, mentally more than physically, and being tired makes me feel less motivated to stay healthy, get stronger, and look for new stories to tell.

Ultimately, I need to downshift into suck-it-up mode and plow through. This is one of those times when I have to remind myself that I’m not doing great, but where would I be if I didn’t try at all?

Perspective: my problems are not really problems. They sure as hell don’t feel like opportunities right now, either. But, things usually go in cycles, and this is likely just a temporary bad cycle. Truly, things could be much worse.

I don’t have any predictions, promises, or insights to share today. I only have my continuing dedication to a better life for everyone living with and affected by this disease. However that happens, whenever that happens, I hope to contribute in any way I can. I want to help, and I want to do it with a sense of empowerment and a joy for life. I want it to be fun again.

Because, why not?
 
 
 

#DSMA Recap: Diabetes/Depressive/Depression

I don’t do this often anymore, but I wanted to touch on last night’s #DSMA Twitter chat. The chat was all about diabetes and depression, how we recognize it, how we treat it, and what kind of resources we lean on when we’re in need.

I learned a lot.

First, some facts. According to a study published three years ago by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in ten American adults report depression. The first paragraph of the web page devoted to it tells the story:
”Depression can adversely affect the course and outcome of common chronic conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.”

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance cites a statistic that says that 8 ½ percent to 27 percent of people living with diabetes also experience depression.

An article published on diaTribe earlier this year takes it a bit further, noting that:
“Diabetes distress is much more common than clinical depression and affects up to 39% of people with type 1, and 35% of people with type 2.”

So depression, or diabetes distress, actually, is a common occurrence among people living with and affected by diabetes. At the same time, there’s a lot of hand-wringing over why we don’t know more about it, and why don’t we reach out more often to those who are feeling this way, and how do we solve this problem?

I’m obviously not an expert, though I can claim to be one of those people who have suffered diabetes distress off and on throughout my 23 years living with Type 1. My biggest problem was that when these moments occurred, I didn’t know where to turn or who to reach out to. And I have to admit to worrying about who to reach out to, because I didn’t want to be seen as a crazy nut, or have my symptoms advertised to the world. I was lucky enough to get through these times with a minimum of help and family and friends who helped me find perspective.

But as in many things, I think the solution begins with ourselves.

We need to make it okay, normal, to recognize the need for good mental health. We need to stress that seeking help when we need it is a normal thing, and it’s a vital part of managing our diabetes. We need to be willing to state this over and over again to people inside and outside of our community. We need to affirm the notion that relying on the resources we need to help us feel better makes us strong, not weak.

And when we see someone who is suffering, we need to hold their hand, look them in the eye, and if we can, help them find their soul and their dignity. This diaTribe post has some great pointers, and links to a number of resources that can help you begin coping right now:

http://diatribe.org/issues/65/learning-curve

If that doesn’t do it for you, and you still feel you need help, please reach out to me and I’ll try to point you in the right direction. Know that if you are living with diabetes and depression, you are not alone. You will never be alone.

I support you… no conditions.
 
 
 

#DBlogWeek Day 3: What brings me down. Today.

DBlogWeek

For the 5th year in a row, diabetes writers from all over the world will be participating in a solid week’s worth of informative, educational, and inspirational blog posts. To find out everything you need to know about Diabetes Blog Week, click on the banner above. A big Thank You to Karen Graffeo for making this happen every year!

Today’s topic:

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? (Thanks go out to Scott of Strangely Diabetic for coordinating this topic.)

Hmmm…. What brings me down? That’s a tough one. Mostly because I’ve been feeling pretty good lately. The bitterness and depression I was feeling a few years ago has faded to the background for the time being. So you may think this is a stupid way to look at this subject. But…

To put it mildly, I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for people who are working their way through difficult times. When people hurt, I hurt too.

This is that empathy thing I talk about a lot. I really feel like People With Diabetes (and People Who Care For People With Diabetes—Type Awesomes) have an extra store of empathy that others do not. We’ve been there… we know what it’s like… we don’t wish what we’ve been through on anyone else.

So it’s hard for me (especially hard for me) to sit idly by while someone else is dealing with something that really gets them down. Especially if I think I may be able to help. Let me give an example:

A little while back I was tweeting back and forth with someone that I only know online. This person was not exactly feeling the DOC love. For them, the community had become too fractured, it was nothing like what it was when they found it, and, if I recall correctly, trust was a big issue for this person. And they weren’t finding much of it then.

What could I do? The answer is, not much. And still… a lot.

Not being an expert, the only thing I really knew to do was to write an e-mail. I just wanted to let them know how much I trusted them, how much they meant to me, and how much I supported them… no exceptions. It was a short note, but I hope I got my point across.

Did it work? Well, I don’t know. I haven’t heard from this person since.

But I know that since then, I’ve felt a great deal of concern for this person’s wellbeing. I want them to know they have a supporter in their life, and I want them to engage with their friends again. Really, more than anything, I just want them to feel better. But not knowing what’s happening bums me out, even though how this person feels is absolutely none of my business really.

I don’t expect everyone to feel like everything is fantastic all the time. But while I’m going through a point in my life where things are pretty good, I want to bring as many people as possible into my space while I can, because I know how I feel today won’t last forever. And I know how important it is to celebrate the good times while they’re still good.

So what brings me down isn’t nearly as important as what brings others down these days. But I’ll say it again: When people hurt, I hurt too. If you’ve got something that’s really getting you down, I’ll try to help you if I can. Know that on your most difficult days, I support you… no exceptions.
 
 
 

Holidays, Blah-lidays.

This post contains some raw, random thoughts hashed out over a couple of days. But please, please, please don’t leave an “I’m sorry for you” comment”. If anything, feel good for me. I’m not struggling, I’m just figuring my way through something I never experienced before a couple of years ago.

Okay… I thought I was good. I thought I was doing great. I thought that I was way over whatever had possessed me at this point last two years.

Apparently, that’s not the case. Don’t be alarmed (don’t you always hate when a sentence begins like that?)… I’m still much better than I was last year. But whatever got hold of me then has reared its ugly head a couple of times in the past week. I’m dealing with it, first by reminding myself how good I really have it and then by trying to recognize those moments when I feel bad, using some outside tool (not drugs) to try and snap myself out of it. Doing something, anything different really works for me.

I’m not a bah-humbug kind of guy. In fact, I used to be someone who very much looked forward to the holiday season, enjoying every tradition and celebration with enthusiasm and joy.

But the last couple of years I’ve been, well, I don’t know. I don’t know exactly, and that’s part of what’s frustrating about it. It’s like I’m looking through this clear glass door at a room full of holiday partiers. I know I can walk through the door and join the party any time I want, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Is that weird? It sounds weird.

It’s my own fault, really. It’s not because I don’t want to join the party. I think that I’m ready to join the party, but I want everything to be perfect before I walk in. Everything. Everything in my life must be perfect, according to my idea of perfection. Otherwise, I’m worried I’ll be rejected because I’m not ready, or not deserving, or whatever.

So my post today is an attempt to change that pattern. During the next month plus, I’m going to give myself permission to ease up on the things that are driving me crazy right now. I’m going to say it’s okay to join the party for a while, and then look again at the imperfect parts of my life to see if they’re still as important as they seem today.

I’m going to go out and take part in some holiday gatherings, among people who smile and laugh and share in the festiveness of it all. You’ll probably see a few extra pictures in the next month as proof that I actually did what I said I would do.

And if you encounter someone like me this year? No pity, please. Just talk to me. Strike up a conversation. Ask me about something. Anything to snap me out of my self-imposed malaise. Keep me engaged… don’t let me emotionally wander away, because I could be going off to a bad place. For absolutely no good reason.

The holidays are strange, aren’t they? I’m not in any immediate danger or anything. I just wish I felt more like celebrating. A lot of others want to celebrate too. Is that too much to ask for?
 
 
 

DSMA Chat. A follow up.

So May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Last week’s DSMA chat picked up on that with a discussion about diabetes and depression. If you missed it, you should definitely go back and check it out. I’ve been ruminating on it for a while (okay, a week), and…

I can tell you that some of the things described in the chat were things that I’ve experienced. Especially in the past year.

And it scared the shit out of me.

I don’t know what really constitutes the official meaning of depression. I can only describe what I was feeling, and how I dealt with it.

At some point last year, I started to feel like I had gotten as far as I could in life… that there were no more mountains to climb, personal, career-wise, anything… even though I was still ready to climb them.

That’s a dangerous thing. Because as soon as you start thinking that you’ve accomplished everything you can accomplish, that you’re as far as you’re going to go… when someone questions anything you do, it feels like they’re trying to take away whatever you have left. And if whatever you think you have left isn’t that great (in your eyes), it really feels unfair.

That’s ridiculous, of course. But I didn’t understand that then, and it made me angry. Not commit a felony angry, just not a nice guy to be around. And after I’d act like that for a while, I’d snap back the other way and feel like the most horrible person ever because I felt like that in the first place. I mean, I felt just awful about it.

That scenario played out in my life every few days for about 4 months.

So what did I do?

First, I sat down with The Great Spousal Unit, and she was great. It’s amazing… when you get unconditional support, you don’t feel so lost anymore. Then she told me something very profound. She knew that in many ways, I had grown up a lot like my father. Similar careers, similar approaches to priorities, money, living, etc. And she had heard me speak before about how, when I was in my teens and early twenties, he would have occasional flashes of rage. This would have been when he was around my age now, maybe a little older. So at some point in the conversation, she paused and looked at me and said:

“You know… you don’t have to be just like your father”.

And I thought about it… he must have experienced many of the same feelings I had. Frustrations at work, bringing home the bacon, paying the bills, trying to find a way to reach some goals that you had set years earlier, and watching them slip away. Maybe forever. At some point, the pressure must have been tremendous. Add in a few rebellious kids (the three oldest of us became teenagers within four years of each other), and you can see it a little clearer. I’m not condoning the rage. But I’m starting to see where it came from.

Well, that was a real breakthrough for me. Then I had to move on to step two: Do something, anything different. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that when I feel bogged down, I need to change my routine, change my focus. So I enrolled in an Improv class at a local theater here. I have no Improv or acting aspirations, I just think it sounds like fun. Fun is what I need. My class starts in a month. And on my birthday in April, I started this blog. I never thought of it as cathartic. But I would be lying if I said it wasn’t.

Third, I went back to exercise more often. I like working out, but I also like it when I have a goal to meet. This year, it’s my 150 mile weekend bike ride (in two weeks!). I’m not sure how that will turn out, but again, it’s something for me to focus on succeeding at. And it won’t be my last physical fitness goal this year.

Finally, at some point, I’ll need to go back and discuss everything with Maureen again. It’ll be an exercise where we’ll measure how far we’ve (read: I’ve) become, and we’ll see what else I need to be aware of or working on.

Hey, I don’t have all of the answers. But I know I’m in a better place today. And I also know that just like diabetes, I need to keep working at it, keep adjusting, and keep remembering that what’s in the past is a learning experience; but it’s not necessarily a road map for the future.

And the future is what counts most.

Here’s hoping your future is as bright as a sunny summer day. If it doesn’t feel that way, don’t be afraid to reach out, ask for help and possibly seek advice from a professional. If you’ve been feeling depressed or angry, don’t forget that you don’t have to be just like your past. Your future is yet to be written. And that’s a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Disclaimer
I have no medical training. If you consider anything written here as medical, legal, financial, or any other kind of advice, you’re out of your mind. Please speak to a learned professional before making any changes that might affect your health. Any of the original content found on this site is my property and should not be reproduced, copied, or otherwise used without the author’s expressed written consent.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: