Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Mental Disease

I fully believe diabetes is a mental disease. Now don't get all defensive on me! Diabetes is a disease that your pancreas doesn't work or doesn't work well enough, causing a rise of glucose in the blood. I understand that.

I'm talking about the mental part of dealing with this disease. It's something that I think many people don't think about or realize.

People talk about dealing with a diagnosis of cancer or some other chronic illness. But I think sometimes people overlook diabetes as a mental disease.

Diabetes is something that I deal with 24 hours a day. Every day. With no vacations. I can not deal with it, sure. But it's going to deal with me regardless.

I am one of the lucky ones who doesn't remember my life before diabetes. But I still deal with it in a very personal way, every single day. Some days I get down in the mouth because my blood sugars won't level out. Somedays I am thrilled with a lower A1c. Some days I feel like I don't know what I'm doing. But every day it's here.

I think about those of you in the diabetes OC who deal with diabetes having been diagnosed later in life. When you were able to remember life before. And having to change all of your life in order to deal with diabetes.

I think about those of you who are parents of diabetic children, and how much diabetes is a mental disease for you also.

I have been so lucky to be surrounded by people who have supported me when I deal with diabetes on the mental level. It's helped me to deal with the emotional issues that come with the diabetes "package".

Some people may not have that support system in place, or may not know how to use it. So to you, I encourage you to seek help. From a pastor, a friend, or even a professional. Deal with diabetes. Don't let it rule you. You rule it.


Lynnea said...

Cara---good post....I soooo believe people that don't deal with chronic anything don't have a clue what it's like to deal with something that never goes away. The mental side of it can sometimes be worse than the physical. ('s late I know that didn't make much sense!!:-)

Cara said...

I was thinking my post didn't make a whole lot of sense because I was tired! Your comment makes perfect sense. :)

Scott K. Johnson said...

I too think my "battle" with diabetes is 98% mental. And it is so true that it is not acknowledged at all except by those that live with it and live with us.

I sure wish I recognized that the mental aspect deserved more attention long ago!

Great post Cara.

k2 said...

Cara -
Spot on post - well done!
Diabetes absolutely affects us mentally. It is chronic, it is 24X7, and we never get a break!
It is the one thing, that is always with us.

There are days it hits us like a ton of bricks, and other days, it is just an accepted part of our normal and we barely think about it. We just do what we have to.

Those who don't have it, have no ideal about the 24 - 7 of it all.

Support systems are so important and necessary.
Thanks so much for reminding dBlogville!

Cara said...

Scott, I still think the general medical population doesn't realize what an effect it has on us mentally. But at least more people recognize it than when I was diagnosed in 1985. :)

Kelly, I saw this thing on GMA about the trials for the artificial pancreas a few weeks ago. They talked with one of the girls that was part of the trial for 3 days. She said it was the best vacation she'd ever had. And it made me wish I was involved in the trials. Sigh.

Karen said...

Your post makes perfect sense and is so true!!!!! Diabetes doesn't just take it's toll on us physically, but also mentally and emotionally. And no, people who don't deal with it can never really understand what we go through. That's another reason I'm so happy I decided to become a part of the Diabetes OC. It's great to know there are others out there who really understand.

Lee Ann Thill said...

Great post! It's so true that people not personally touched by diabetes don't grasp the enormous emotional toll it can take. The misconceptions about the different types of diabetes, its management, its etiology abound, and I think until the day comes when the general public understands those aspects of it, they'll never understand how or why it taxes the mental health of so many of us.