Such can be the seasons of Diabetes.
There are moments when one feels invincible, unstoppable... committed more than anything in the world, and running full steam ahead. And then there are the not so honest moments; the moments when one speaks to others, gently keeping behind the curtains the deep feelings of struggle bubbling within.
Depression, and other mental health concerns, are probably the most ignored symptoms of Diabetes. Though, quite honestly, it is hard to call Depression a symptom when studies have shown that if you are predisposed to Diabetes, it really doesn't matter which one came first: if you had Depression first, it may very well lead to Diabetes; and if you had Diabetes first, it may very well lead to Depression (http://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20101122/new-links-seen-between-depression-and-diabetes).
Adding to the clinical predisposition for Depression is the heavy guilt burden being heaped upon patients by outsiders, and by what I would call an "Uneducated Doctor Epidemic", compounded with the "Lazy Researcher Virus," and exacerbated by the "Ratings Addicted Media Tsunami."
What comes of all of this is a perfect storm of judgement and derision toward people with Diabetes (indiscriminate of the type.) Not that the type should even matter; NO ONE gave themselves diabetes. No one wants this disease. But it's easier to mock overweight people; it's easier to blame them for disease, and economic burdens. Why else would they come up with such a thoughtless, hurtful, and insensitive term as "Diabesity?" Because it's much easier than having to self examine the health itself of our country... Who wants to look at pollution, pesticides, HFCS, BPAs, FDA guidelines, Big Pharma medicine side effects, and COI within health guideline organizations, when there are fat people we can accuse of giving themselves a disease. (Never mind that 33.3% of Americans are obese, but only 8.8% of Americans are diabetic, and that includes all types.) This leaves most diabetics, frazzled (to say the least), most of the time.
Now, Depression in itself, is a poorly understood, and stigma filled illness. I've had Depression since I was, at least, 12 years old and I can't tell you the number of times people have advised me to just look on the sunny side of life, to accept Jesus, or to just shut up and 'deal with it.' Many people really can't tell the difference between the occasional bout of sadness, and clinical Depression... and just like with Diabetes, few medical professionals are equipped with the tender understanding required to help a patient overcome and manage Depression, or monitor a diabetic patient for symptoms of Depression. What's worse, many people think Depression is a made up, modern era disease, in which people just lack will power... the same lack of will power that led them to be overweight (or eat poor food), and give themselves Diabetes. (Even if these statements are far, far from the truth.)
Even without clinical Depression, Diabetes, in itself, can be depressing for many reasons...
- It's just a frightening disease, with many complications and dangers -- some immediate, and some compounded over time.
- We have to work HARD to be healthy, without any apparent 'reward.' Most people I know struggle, as it is, when the rewards are very evident (like weight loss, or muscle building, or training for some sporting event)... When people have to work hard at something, every day, so they can avoid 'unknown', 'random' complications they CAN'T SEE happening to their bodies, or won't know about for many years to come... it's like trying to hit a piñata in a pitch black room, with a 6 inch ruler. There aren't many immediately gratifying rewards in this game... And if you do ever get that piñata, you still have to mind that candy.
- Some folks work incredibly hard, and they STILL develop complications. Sometimes our genetics are the damning factor in whether or not we develop a bad complication, and this is apparent in folks who aren't even diabetic, and develop many of the complications some diabetics might get, like neuropathy.
- Folks who develop complications, often go their medical professionals only to be treated with judgement, and contempt -- told they weren't compliant, and did this to themselves. Type 2 Diabetic patients often get little support from the medical community, are given little to no education, and little to NO tools (such as test strips to monitor their numbers), and then expected to have tight control.
- Family and friends are often NOT understanding, and judge from the outside, looking in: they may think life changes should be easy enough (because they're not 'rocket science,' right? -- except, they CAN be lol) and shouldn't burden the patient... yet I can't tell you the number of diabetics (particularly women with diabetes) who end up making two sets of meals, three times a day, because the rest of their family doesn't want to change their eating habits, as well. Diabetics NEED a supportive environment, and supportive families, and CHANGE AS A WHOLE, in order to thrive.
- It just gets old. Get up, test your blood sugar, take pills... wait... wait... wait... test, take pills, count carbs, eat, test... exercise, test... test, take pills, count carbs, eat, test, exercise, test... test, take pills, count carbs, eat, test, exercise, test... test... take pills, count carbs, eat, test... Can you keep track of it? Can you do this every day, for the rest of your life? For once I'd like to SLEEP IN, or eat without thinking so much! Can you schedule bathroom breaks in between, for the side effects? Can you schedule exercise breaks, in between work, when you're not at home? Can you plan snacks to stuff in your pockets so you won't go low at work? Remember to pack your lunches, every day, for work, and always get up early enough to eat breakfast, and always pack your own meals and drinks when you go to get-togethers because no one bothers to think of diabetics or those with health needs? Can you remember to schedule all the doctor appointments for your routine care? The eye doctor, the foot doctor, the A1C, the yearly physical, the CDE? Can you remember to have enough strips and snacks when you go outdoors? CHANGE YOUR LANCET. Can you still spare an extra 20 minutes to talk to the idiot who just said you shouldn't eat that candy in your pocket for your lows, or it will give you Diabetes? Are you tired, and annoyed yet? Because let me tell you, it's not fun to be the fat gal at work, with candy in her pocket, because her Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome gives her hypoglycemia, and she unloads trucks for a living, but she has Diabetes... So everyone else needs to have a say in that. And oh, yes, all throughout your day... remember to drink enough water. :) Lots of water. heh Or you'll go high from dehydration. FUN.
I don't really think we realize just what we're doing to persons with Diabetes. We worry so much about about an obesity epidemic, but instead we're creating a Depression epidemic in more ways than one. We are creating an epidemic of people who want to die, in silence, from shame, rather than talk about their Diabetes, or openly care for it. An epidemic of bullied children, and young Diabetic girls with eating disorders. If we have enough courage to not judge someone who just got infected with the HIV virus, whether it was their fault or not, why would we not have enough courage to not judge someone who just got diagnosed with Diabetes? Diabetes kills more people than Aids and Breast Cancer COMBINED.
Diabetic patients need well rounded, overall care, and mental health services to help cope with this chronic, life long condition. Diabetics need support; not judgement.
If you are depressed today, friend... Understand that Winter doesn't last forever. Just like your trees, plants, shrubs, and lawn, may require some tender, Winter loving care... So do you. Be KIND to yourself. It is OKAY to feel the way you do. I feel it, too.
It seems like the end of the world out there, in your heart and mind, but it is not. I GET IT. You want the roller coaster to stop... If you are struggling today, with Depression, hiding behind society fabricated shame is not the answer; please, open up. Talk to your doctor, or find a new doctor. Find a Diabetes support group in your area, or online... Leave unsupportive environments, and judgmental people (even if they themselves have Diabetes.) Do NOT go down into that Wintery scene... You can do this, and I'm no different than you... Spring is just around the corner. Let yourself bloom.