Taking care of your mental health after a diabetes diagnosis by implementing a mental health management plan.
The day my doctor informed me that my blood sugar was very high and that additional testing was needed was a total blur. I can only remember going to the lab, holding my husband’s hand, sobbing as the phlebotomist drew blood from my arm. I remember crying all throughout the day in my room and my youngest son coming in giving me some wild violet weed flowers because he knew that I wasn’t feeling well.
When I received the official diagnosis from the doctor over the phone, it was just as if life stood still. Similar to someone telling you of a death of someone you know.
I was shocked.
All I can remember is setting up a follow-up appointment to plan my next steps, which would eventually become the start of my diabetes journey.
For the next several weeks, I’ve battled anger and depression. Anger because I knew that diabetes ran on both sides of my family, including my dad and older sister. Why me? I’m 99 lbs, ate what I believed was liberal low-carb. I stayed active despite anemia, kicking my behind. I became depressed because I knew that this was a lifelong condition and I’ve witnessed so many of my family members suffer from complications. Now this would be my life.
After a month of changing my diet and exercise routine, I felt like I was mentally able to accept my reality and began taking control of my new lifestyle. I’ve started relying on online diabetes support groups on Facebook and started this blog, “The Genetic Diabetic”. Even though I was (and still) doing well, I periodically experienced depressive thoughts about my diagnosis. However, I have been able to combat those thoughts by cooking new dishes and/or blogging.
A diabetes diagnosis permanently changes your life in so many ways physically and mentally. It’s normal to feel scared, isolated and even angry. I want to share with you a few tips I’ve discovered and currently use in my own journey. Consider this as mental health management plan for managing diabetes.
Take Time Off
If you’ve read my previous post, “Don’t Press Snooze on Your Health,” I’ve mentioned what happened immediately after I received the diagnosis. Proceeding to go along with my day after receiving life altering news was a very poor choice on my part. I was more concerned about not wanting to cancel at the last minute and establish a poor rapport with my client.
This is when you have to put your mental health first. Take time off to process what is happening. Do whatever you can to make that happen. Once you’ve had time to process and think, then you’ll be able to think clearly and will be able to mentally function
Gather Your Support System
I probably would not be able to get this far mentally on my journey without a strong support system. A strong support system can take form of just one person or a group. It can be a spouse, parent, trusted friend or an online support group that you can reach out for encouragement, advice and accountability.
Find Your Outlet
Whenever I become overwhelmed with diabetes and all of the issues that come with it, I take some time out of my day to do something that takes my mind off of diabetes. I enjoy cooking new foods, reading the bible, watching a good comedy or romcom or just spending time with my family. What types of things do you enjoy? Use those hobbies regularly as your outlet whenever you need to take your mind off of diabetes.
Seek Counseling When Needed
There will be times when even the previous tips that I’ve mentioned might not work. You might feel that you’re in a really dark place and you’re beginning to experience extreme emotional distress or suicidal thoughts. If this is currently where you are, then I strongly advise that you immediately seek professional help. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or chat on their website at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Battling a chronic illness like diabetes is definitely not for the weak. There will be many great strides, but there will also be many challenges and disappointments. However, with a solid mental health plan, you will be able to overcome these challenges with grace, endurance and tenacity.