What Brings Me Down
Today's topic: May is Mental Health Month, so now seems like a great time to explore the emotional side of living with, or caring for, someone with diabetes. What things can make dealing with diabetes an emotional issue for you and/or your loved one, and how do you cope? More posts on this topic can be found here!
What brings me down as a parent of a child with diabetes is when the disease impacts what my child can and cannot do. With her cell phone, insulin pump, Dexcom and growing self-awareness, my daughter is now able to do most things other kids her age do. But not always.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about having to say 'no' to an overnight birthday celebration at a friend's vacation home two hours away. If you'd like to read the whole story, it's here.
Looking back on the post, it tells the story from start to finish. It explains the logic of our decision and touches on the difficulty of making it. Yet the emotions are not adequately conveyed. I mentioned tears, but the whole thing was a real downer.
Reading the invitation? Deflating. Anxiety-producing. Disappointing. Saddening.
My daughter's reaction? Like the stages of grief. They were all there, though not necessarily in order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Fortunately she moved through the whole thing in under an hour, but she was and still is deeply disappointed she can't be there.
How do we deal with it? With this situation and others like it, we tend to combine two tactics to face the curve balls diabetes sends us.
One, I suppose, comes from our stoic New England and Pennsylvania Dutch roots. With this party invitation, as with other situations in the past, we didn't dwell on it. We had a little cry over the whole thing and unleashed a healthy tirade over diabetes' awfulness. Then we had lunch. What else was there to do?
The second is the fun part. It's the 'when life gives you lemons, make lemonade' idea. No, she can't go to the party, but we did arrange a fun sleepover at our house for the same night, and there's likely some mini-golf on tap for the weekend as well. Is it as good as the original opportunity? No. But fun will be had, gosh-darnit.
Diabetes can be awful, painful, isolating and depressing. It takes conscious effort every day to keep it from taking over our household. Some days it takes everything we've got.