“Not me! I don’t have diabetes distress. Wait, what is diabetes distress anyway? But, whatever it is I definitely don’t have it.” I have felt the same way about many things, but it is not until I decide to get help or if my mother, brother, cousin, friends regularly express concern, causing me to get help, despite them. Then and only then do I find out what it is.
For example, research shows that growing up with diabetes causes Attention Deficit Disorder and some level of depression, which I have been living with most of my life. But it wasn’t till I was 30 years old did my girlfriend thought I had ADD and proceeded to nag me for six months. I was so frustrated that I went for testing, just to prove her wrong.
At the time if I had listened to her and followed her advice to get it checked out. I would have saved myself a lot of time and energy. Sometimes it is essential to let go of our stubbornness and let someone else guide us because we don’t always know what is best for us until it is usually too late.
If I never considered my girlfriends’ opinion and got the help, I would never have had the focus needed to help you and other people living with diabetes. Because diabetes is so complicated that I would never have been able to see all the areas diabetes affected and may have never felt confident enough to specialize in diabetes.
I have had several personal experiences with diabetes distress, and many people will experience at least once if not more during their lifetime. The scary part is that most people living with it don’t realize they’re going through it and may or may not get help. Thinking, they are having a bought of depression, and it will go away on its own.
Unfortunately, without the right support, it won’t. In fact, some who go to a therapist may get misdiagnosed with depression. There are several reasons why that is a bad thing, but treatment for diabetes distress is different than depression.
Diabetes Distress is a combination of depressive symptoms as well as problematic glycemic control and difficulties with self-care behaviors, caused by emotional burdens and worries that are related to the experience of living with and managing diabetes.
Usually, diabetes distress is more noticeable in people who are managing their diabetes well for years and out of nowhere they can’t seem to get off the couch to check their blood sugar or decide to start eating before they bolas when in the past they always gave it before eating. They used to manage their diabetes without a second thought now their thoughts relate to feeling victimized by diabetes. Feelings of helplessness, loneliness, and sadness around having diabetes have become constant.
One minute you are on autopilot, the next autopilot is off, and it is nearly impossible to steer or land the plane.
If you feel you might be living with diabetes distress, please reach out for help.
My name is Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, and I am a diabetes-focused psychotherapist, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977. I see people living with diabetes in my New York Office and Online.
For a free consultation please call (917) 272-4829.
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Prior to making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.