When Life Stands Still
The day I learned my blood sugar was very high and additional testing was needed was a total blur to me. I remember going to the lab with my husband, sobbing as the phlebotomist drew blood from my arm, and crying all day inside my bedroom all day when my youngest son walked in and offered me some wild violet weed flowers, knowing I wasn't feeling well.
When I later received the official diagnosis from the doctor over the phone, it was as if life just stood still. The feeling was similar to someone telling you of the death of someone you know.
I was shocked.
After that, I arranged a follow-up appointment to discuss my next steps, which would become the beginning of my diabetes journey.
I have battled diabetes-related anger and depression intermittently for the last three years. I was angry because I knew that both sides of my family had diabetes, including my father and sister. I was in disbelief and denial. I believed that I ate healthy and remained active, even with anemia kicking in. I felt that I did everything to prevent diabetes and failed. I also battled depression because I knew diabetes was a lifelong condition and many of my relatives had suffered complications. Diabetes was now my fate.
It wasn't until I got involved in advocating for others and relying on the diabetes community for support that I was able to accept my diagnosis mentally. I’m in a better place now. However, I still occasionally experience depressive thoughts after receiving my diagnosis. By talking to friends in the diabetes community and blogging, I have been able to combat those thoughts.
A diabetes diagnosis permanently alters your physical, emotional, and mental health. It is normal to feel scared, isolated, and even angry after being diagnosed. The following are a few tips I have discovered and am currently using in my own journey. Think of it as a mental health management plan for managing diabetes.
Take Time Off To Process
Prioritize your mental health during this time. Give yourself time to process what has happened. Make sure you give yourself that time. When you have had enough time to process and think, you will be able to think clearly and function mentally.
Gather Your Support System
Without a strong support network, I probably wouldn't have been able to get this far on my journey. A good support system can consist of a single person or a group of people. A spouse, parent, trusted friend, or an online support group can be a source of encouragement, advice, and accountability.
Find Your Outlet
If I become overwhelmed with diabetes and the complications that come along with it, I take time out of my day to do something that takes my mind off diabetes. I like to cook new foods, read the Bible, watch rom-coms or comedy shows and just spend time with my family. What do you enjoy doing? If you need to escape from diabetes, use your hobbies regularly as an outlet.
Seek Counseling When Needed
There will be situations when even the previous tips that I have provided won't work. You might be experiencing extreme emotional distress or even suicidal thoughts and you may feel that you're in a really dark place.
If that is where you are right now, I strongly advise that you seek professional help immediately. You can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or by visiting their website at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org. You may contact them at any time, seven days a week.
Fighting a chronic illness such as diabetes is not a battle for the weak. Many great strides will be made, but there will also be many challenges and disappointments. However, with a sound mental health plan, you can face these challenges with grace, endurance, and tenacity.
When life stands still, you stand tall.
Friend, you’ve got this!
By CJ Walker