We think a lot about the physical component of diabetes, but the mental component is just as significant. How does diabetes affect you or your loved one mentally or emotionally? How have you learned to deal with the mental aspect of the condition? Any tips, positive phrases, mantras, or ideas to share on getting out of a diabetes funk? (If you are a caregiver to a person with diabetes, write about yourself or your loved one or both!)
T1D may be a physical condition, but its impact on emotional and social health can be staggering. These are the Uglies of T1D. The things I really can’t write about in detail on my blog, to protect my daughter’s privacy.
But I will say this.
Being under the microscope 24/7, examining and evaluating every single food eaten and single activity done, breeds emotional discord, even among the most resilient individuals. Feelings of anger, resentment, fear, sadness, worry, self-hatred’ loneliness and hopelessness can take root over time and fuel the development of depression, anxiety and eating disorders. When severe depression strikes, those with T1D have easy access to a potent tool of self-harm: insulin. It’s a terrifying thought that something needed for daily survival can be the same something used to die with intent.
Treatment, of course, is a critical intervention. Our CDEs and endocrinologists should be willing and able to offer referrals for mental health care, but this seems to be an unrealistic expectation. Why? Good luck finding mental health clinicians who understand the uniquely tangled issues of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and T1D. Good luck finding a psychiatric setting equipped with enough medical expertise to meet the needs of pediatric T1D. Good luck finding support groups and medical providers who are willing to openly address emotional difficulties alongside the regular issues of diabetes management.
In the diabetes community, so much time, effort, energy and attention is directed toward finding a cure. We have children and teens with T1D who are struggling to cope with unfathomable issues…I’d like to see them living long enough to benefit from that cure. I see little advocacy for the mental health needs of people with T1D, and even less willingness to channel resources toward the development of needed supports. What are we doing here?