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It’s day 2 of Diabetes Blog Week, and the silver lining of being awake at 5am this morning was that I managed to catch up on most of the posts from day 1. This week comes from Karen Graffeo who, as she commented on my blog yesterday, I’ve not met. But we will be remedying that very shortly so I can hug her and say thanks for this. And make her buy me a coffee to help manage the sleep I’ve lost each year (and am yet to make up!) since taking part in #DBlogWeek.

Today’s prompt:  We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant. How does diabetes affect you or your loved one mentally or emotionally? How have you learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition? Any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas to share on getting out of a diabetes funk?

Just this morning on Twitter, I was having a conversation with a few people and eventually I found myself commenting on the emotional side of diabetes. The discussion was specifically relating to someone who had recently started using an insulin pump and I made a comment about how the learning curve could be steep and to take it easy.

Someone jumped in and said that he found the learning curve to not be steep at all (which is great and also highlights the different ways different people respond to diabetes). He commented that he thought it was pretty straight forward and that most people should be able to follow some basic principles – such as timing of glucose checks and understanding what happens around food and insulin (a movable feast as far as I am concern – there is no understanding, just watching with confusion at why something worked yesterday but not today….).

This may be true. There probably are some principles that could be consistent for most people. However, this was not addressing everything I was referring to which may contribute to the gradient of that learning curve.

Matters such as insulin dosing, timing of glucose checks and counting carbs are, just like working out which buttons to push on the new device, technical. But I believe this is certainly not the only side to diabetes.

I pointed out that it was more than just the technical side to a pump start and commented as such, adding ‘emotional concerns of ‘attachment can be difficult for some, explaining in my next tweet that the term attachment was referring to being connected to something 24/7. (This is something that almost everyone I have ever spoken to has mentioned as a real barrier to starting on a pump or other wearable device – the idea of a constant, attached to the body reminder of diabetes. It was even a discussion last Friday at #DX2Sydney.)

Too often, some forget that diabetes is not about only about operational matters. The equation of ‘you eat, you take insulin to cover the food and then you are all good to go’ does not hold true. In the case of technology it is not, ‘you learn to press buttons and then you are fine.’ Just as I am much more than my diabetes, my diabetes is so much more than food, medication and devices.

When people ask me what I find the most difficult about living with diabetes, I am able to answer without hesitation. For me it is a combination of the relentlessness of the condition alongside the way in permeates all aspects of my life. It is particularly disturbing and distressing for me when it impacts my family who shouldn’t have to deal with diabetes.

I don’t have the answers or know how to fix these troubles. But I do know that there are a few things that help.

  • I have learnt to be kind to myself.
  • I have learnt to not compare myself with anyone else.
  • I have learnt that this too will pass – even the darkest diabetes moments have had light somewhere.
  • I have learnt to rely on the people around me who love and support me.
  • I have learnt that the moment that I get complacent and think I have this diabetes thing sorted, I absolutely don’t.
  • I have learnt that looking to the DOC provides me with a million things I’ve not thought of, and one of those things may work for me today.
  • I have learnt that sometimes I need to draw a line in the sand, call it a day, and admit that diabetes is winning right now. But that doesn’t mean it will tomorrow.
  • I have learnt that when all else fails, the things that make me feel best are a hug from Aaron and the kidlet, a message to one of my far away diabetes friends, a perfectly made coffee or a glass of Prosecco, and something to take my mind off diabetes.
  • I have learnt that even though I have really had some dark emotional days with diabetes, I get up and do it again tomorrow. Because that is the only option.

burn out and come back again.

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