High Levels of Blood Sugar (BS) Causes Frustration

Why is this so frustrating? This usually doesn’t bother me. Well maybe a little bit, but not like today. My day started great. My wife made me coffee that seldom happens. Well, since the birth of our son, anyway and I get it. My wife takes a lot of weight off my shoulders, so I can help the diabetes community, like giving me time to write this blog and for this, I am genuinely grateful. My son was on his best behavior. I even left for work on time.

I left the subway, walking to work when a group of people who are walking at a snail’s pace, loudly talking and laughing, block my way. I’m sure some of you have been there, and if not I can tell you it’s quite frustrating. It usually happens when you are late going somewhere, but I had plenty of time. Typically, I find it a little annoying and easily dismiss their behavior as not deliberate, but just a general lack of awareness on their part.

Screen shot from “The Three Stooges”

So why do I want to take their heads and clunk them together like Moe regularly does to Larry and curly in “the three stooges.” They must have known that I was behind them, I thought to myself. I was becoming outraged, and anger filled thoughts raced through my head. I thought of the various ways I could tell them off. Time was moving as fast as them. Okay here I go, “hay As…” and before I could get the second word out, of my rageful rederick, they turned the corner, and I continued straight towards work.

I get to work, frustrated and angry. I enter my office, and I hear my continuous glucose meter alarm. I must have missed it with how noisy the subway and streets of New York City are. I check my blood glucose levels and what a surprise my BS levels spiked after I left for work.

After calming down, I noticed that I didn’t have enough insulin on board and corrected for the high BS.

Now, many things can be quite frustrating. One thing that happens often is having to stop what you are doing to manage diabetes; always changing direction and waiting for BS levels to return to normal.

The need to stop for High BS is not as apparent. There are many reasons for this: BS can slowly rise which makes it difficult to recognize. As this occurs, our reality changes, along with our mood.

The best part is that the higher it goes, the more emotional we become and thanks to the cognitive impairment, it is difficult to notice that anything is wrong. So, how are high levels of BS causing frustration?

Generally, the difficulty of bringing blood glucose back in range causes lots of frustration as well as taking a lot of work and time, due to insulin resistance. During this period (two to six hours) emotions and cognitive impairment run high and our inner dialogue decrease, along with good judgment. All of this can be very frustrating, not to mention having to explain after things return to normal. So much so, that hearing the words, “I’m sorry” can trigger negative emotions.

To reduce the stress of these events, having an action plan in place is very important. An action plan is created ahead of time, usually with the help of a cognitive behavioral therapist or CDE. The action plan helps you know what to do when BS is high, so you don’t have to struggle when the cognitive impairment of high BS reduces your ability to think clearly.

Action plans are a specific set of behaviors used for any situation thought out ahead of the event. When a low BS occurs a good action plan would be to use the 15/15 rule. Take 15 fast acting carbs, wait 15 minutes, check BS and repeat until blood glucose is back in range. Action plans can be used to reduce stress when blood sugars are high, but it is necessary to keep in mind that each plan needs personalization.

For many, it is important to create a plan with people who would be impacted by your behavior when your BS is high. For example, once you recognize your BS is high you tell the people around you and in turn they will follow their portion of the plan that you created together, which may be to leave you alone until your BS is back in range.

How we perceive these events can continue feelings of frustration, anger, or sadness, or, we can recognize our limitations and let go of control which reduces the negative impact of high BS levels. With that said if our internal dialogue turns to self-blaming we will spend two to six hours in a negative, sad, and frustrating state of mind.

High levels of stress and frustration can negatively impact every part of your life. People may notice the negativity that comes with it and pull away from you; it may affect your work, cause your relationships to fail and causing you to hurt loved ones.

I work on helping my clients reduce their frustration, help them build their action plans and use other methods to help them overcome their stressors. If you are struggling in this area, please reach out.

I have spent years helping people living with diabetes resolve issues like this in my New York Office and Online. You can call me at (917) 272-4829, or set up a free consult session at https://www.timetrade.com/book/6QYC1

Medical Disclaimer:
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Before making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.

Published by Eliot LeBow LCSW, CDE

Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist, diabetes-coach, presenter, and writer. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes-Focused Psychotherapy takes a holistic approach combining traditional talk therapy with diabetes education and management help. It addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of living life with diabetes while still addressing other non-diabetes related life problems to create a unique holistic approach to helping people with diabetes thrive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *