July 26, 2016

Diabetes and Mental Health

It’s something that always goes together. It’s something with many factors. It’s something that you never get a break from. It’s also something that isn’t often talked about or factored into everyday care. It’s splattered with stigma, stereotypes, shame, and silence. Well, it’s actually two somethings. It’s type 1 diabetes and mental health.

Type 1 diabetes and mental health very often impact each other one way or another. Type 1 diabetes and mental health impact everyday life, but everyday life also impacts the two. You can never take a vacation from type 1 diabetes and mental health. It’s a rare event when mental health is factored into diabetes care. You see the stigma, stereotypes, and silence around type 1 diabetes and mental health constantly, but it’s also accompanied with silence and shame.

This all very much so applied to me for the majority of my life doubled with the fact that in my mind I could only be positive about type 1 diabetes and the fact that I had had few good experiences with counseling. In my mind, I was invincible ever since I was diagnosed at 7.

But soon that all changed- compounded with many years of living with type 1 diabetes, my studies in Social Work in college, my involvement in the diabetes community online and in life, hiding from the past and things I didn’t want to deal with, and the fact that I was going a million miles an hour with limited self-care.

Diabetes Burnout hit me with full force my junior year of college. I had faced a wall that for the first time I couldn’t climb over or burst may way through. My Diabetes Burnout lasted for months and under a cloak of silence and shame. I searched for information- I found some resources that didn’t seem a right fit for me, and I found almost no “me too’s.” I did however discover how wonderful and beneficial counseling was.

I came out of it eventually, but I was very different when I did. My thoughts on mental health were the biggest change for me. Self-care immediately became a regular part of my routine. I yearned for more me too’s, and eventually I made it my goal to be more honest not just to myself, but to the outside world about mental health, but especially mental health and diabetes.

My senior year of college came, and towards the end of the year so did a triple diagnosis of ADHD, Anxiety, and OCD. All of which apparently presented before the age of 12, but it was missed duee to the focus on diabetes and my mistrust of healthcare providers.

So again- something changed. With that change, so did my blog.

I’ve shared versions and bits of this story before in print and in person. Especially because only a few people probably wear their mental health on their sleeve.

But I hope for things to change. I hope for a diabetes community that doesn’t call burnout giving up. I hope for more research. I hope for a day that mental health isn’t a joke, that diabetes isn’t a joke, and especially that the two together are not part of jokes.

The truth of the matter is that I live with type 1 diabetes, ADHD, OCD, and Anxiety, but that is just a part of who I am. But these parts are very much together with other aspects of my life.

I have to check my blog sugar and give insulin many times during the day, and battle the OCD that begins to obsess over my continuous glucose monitor. I’m figuring out how to navigate ADHD and anxiety in the workplace. I’m still learning my triggers and figuring out what works for me.

And to be perfectly honest, this is mostly for me- a part of my self-care- I am not great at verbalizing how I feel- especially if those emotions aren’t positive, but I can do it through writing.

But I can’t lie when I hear or see someone say “me too” or I thought I was the only one- because it’s a nice reminder to keep doing what I’m doing, but it’s also a reminder that I am not alone.

Social information-

Instagram and twitter: @mindy_bartleson

Blog: https://mindydiabetes.wordpress.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/theresmoretothestory/