We know that diabetes is stressful and can be overwhelming at times. The day in and day out grind of carb counting, injecting insulin, and checking on blood sugar levels can wear a person down. That is why it is so important to look after your mental health as well as your physical health. Here are a few things that myself and others have done over the years to help from feeling overwhelmed by diabetes.
Cry, scream or yell in the shower
Whether you are the person living with diabetes or you are helping someone you love, there are those days when you have had it. You want to kick and scream. You just don’t want to “diabetes” anymore.
Guess what? That is okay! In fact, it is pretty darn healthy! It isn’t healthy to keep those feelings and frustrations bottled up, however.
When you are completely overwhelmed by diabetes and want to throw in the towel…do it! Find a private spot, like the shower, and just let out all of that pent up emotion. Allow yourself to cry. Go ahead and scream at the universe. Yell at diabetes itself. Simply vent and then…let go. I promise you that while it won’t fix everything, you will feel a little better.
Go for a walk when you feel overwhelmed by diabetes
We all know that we are supposed to exercise. Did you also know that it really can be good for your mental health?
Take some time to join a gym, sign up for a yoga class or just take the dog for a walk. Do something to get moving and get out of your head for a bit. Shake off the cobwebs as you stretch or lift. Allow all of that stress to hit the pavement as you go for a walk. Taking in some fresh air and taking some time for you will help you to improve your overall health.
Go out on a date
Go out for a lunch date with a friend. Meet your significant other for a lovely meal. Take one of your children out for a playdate that involves just the two of you. Simply get out and put diabetes on the backburner.
If you are living with diabetes, you will sadly still have to bring it along but, for just an hour, make it sit at another table. Don’t complain about it. Don’t worry about it. Just focus on the person you are with and leave the rest behind for 20 minutes, an hour, whatever you can spare. Recharge yourself with someone you care about.
Grab a glass of wine
At the end of the day, allow yourself to unwind with a glass of wine, a shot of rum or simply a great cup of tea. If you enjoy essential oils, make sure you have your
Enjoy a book
Take a few minutes to unwind with a good book. Put on a Netflix show. Turn on your
Live life 4 hours at a time
This is advice that truly kept me sane through toddlerhood, preteen years and the teens. Live life 4 hours at a time.
When living with diabetes, there can be highs and lows that appear out of nowhere. There can be highs and lows that show up because you got a bit of air in your tubing, you injected into a different site, or you counted the carbs in a meal wrong. There are more reasons for highs and lows than the average person can imagine. Obsessing over them can drive you completely insane and leave you feeling overwhelmed by diabetes.
My advice is simply to deal with them in short blocks. Rapid-acting insulin has a life of 4 hours (on average). Take your day and break it up into those four-hour sections. When you get up and check your blood sugar, that is the start of your first four hours. If that reading is perfect, do a happy dance and get some breakfast. Savor the victory over the diabetes gods.
In those next four hours, you can celebrate in range readings. You can ponder out of range numbers but know that there will be another four hours for you to look at and you will get through.
Celebrate the little victories
Beyond just celebrating a great four hours, look for other victories in your day and bask in that joy. Perhaps you convinced your doctor to let you try a new insulin. Your insurance company may not have hassled you about the number of test strips you are claiming today. Celebrate the sensor that is providing accurate readings for an extra day.
Find the little things in your life, whether they are diabetes related or not and be thankful. Treasure that phone call with a friend that came in at just the right moment. Smile a little longer at that meme you saw on social media. Make sure to find joy where you can. It really does help you from feeling completely overwhelmed by the demands of life with diabetes.
Give diabetes away for the day
Seriously, give diabetes away for the day. Have someone else think about the blood checks and carb counting. Take the day off.
If you are a parent of a child with diabetes, have your partner or a family member do your child’s care for the day. Remember that they will do things differently. That is okay. As long as your child is okay and you can rest, it will be okay.
If you have diabetes yourself, ask your partner, good friend or even parent to deal with everything for a day. Okay, maybe you won’t be able to handle an entire day but let them scan your sensor. Have them push the buttons on your pump. Let someone else do your site change. Give your brain a break for an hour, an afternoon, a full day if you can!
Join a support group
No matter what, there is nothing like talking to people who get it. If you are on Facebook, join one of the many online groups that are there. Most are private or secret so that what you say in the group will stay there.
If you are a Twitter person, look for the hashtag #DOC or #DSMA and join in diabetes chats. It is a great way to share and meet other people who live the same life as you.
Some people prefer to meet in real life. Check with your diabetes clinic for support groups or diabetes-related events in your area. There are many conferences and camps for both adults and youth that are worth checking out.
Journal about feeling overwhelmed by diabetes
It can be very therapeutic to simply write out your feelings. Start a journal online or in your favourite notebook. Write about your victories and your frustrations. Get your feelings down on paper so that you can better handle them in your daily life.
Seek help for depression and burnout
Finally, if you are still feeling overwhelmed by diabetes, please look into finding the help of a professional. There are mentor programs for teens. You can connect with diabetes educators in other areas who will help you tackle getting blood sugars in a more manageable range. You can also connect with therapists who will assist you in person or via remote networks. Some of them like Virtue Bajurny and Joe Solowiejczyk are not only therapists but live with type 1 diabetes themselves.
No matter what you decide to do. Remember that you never have to do it alone. If you are struggling, please reach out to someone or contact us. We will try to help you to find someone in your area who may be able to help.