In The Back Of My Mind

Diabetes Blog Week
The Other Half of Diabetes - Tuesday 5/17 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!)

Always, in the back of my mind, is the possibility that, due to diabetes, my child will become unconscious when I'm not with her or that she will die at night.   When I hear an ambulance headed towards her school I wonder if my phone is about to ring.  When my child is sleeping in, or when I don't hear from her early on the morning of a sleepover, I wonder if she's asleep or passed out, or if she's even alive. Despite our attempts to push it into the background of an otherwise productive and happy life, diabetes is a dangerous and sometimes deadly disease.

I feel better when she's wearing the Dexcom. With it, I know she's got a safety net when it's a strenuous gym day or when she's out with friends.  When she's sleeping in I can check the graph and wake her if necessary. But even then a lost signal or a night of inaccurate readings will leave me glancing at her bedroom door, wondering.  Will I need the glucagon? What if she doesn't wake up?

It's not an overwhelming fear, nor do I dwell on it.  It just lingers in the back of my mind. Yet it certainly sets my concerns apart from those of other parents. They complain about their sleepy, lazy teenagers, but they rest assured that by noon these kids will appear in their kitchens no worse for wear.  This isn't a conversation I have with the mom's night out crowd.  It's a huge jump from, "I wish Susie would get her butt out of bed and do something useful on Saturday mornings," to "Well at least you know she's getting up- when my kid sleeps in , I seriously consider the possibility that she's unconscious or dead.  Please pass the chardonnay."  Sharing this anxiety could, mental health professionals may contend, be helpful to me, and it would certainly be a form of advocacy and awareness-raising.  So far, beyond a couple of very close friends, I'm not there.

How, then, do I keep these thoughts from paralyzing do I keep them in the back of my mind?  Fortunately I'm generally not prone to episodes of panic, so my overall temperament helps. Writing and reading here in the diabetes blogosphere reminds me that I'm not alone, which is a huge source of support. When I notice I'm beginning to dwell on this (or any other) anxiety, I know it's time to take better care of myself. I push myself to engage in incredibly simple but sometimes seemingly impossible tasks like making myself a cup of tea, taking long walks, eating well, ensuring that I'm spiritually engaged, doing something fun, and/or talking to someone I trust. I can't eliminate this particular anxiety without eliminating diabetes altogether, but I've remained able to keep it from becoming more than an occasional fleeting thought.

Living with diabetes means living with a unique collection of stressors, fears and other emotional challenges.  I'm curious to read how other people deal with the ways diabetes impacts their mental health, interpersonal relationships and sense of self.  Click here to read more posts on today's topic.


  1. "Please pass the chardonnay"
    So funny! My fear is always simmering, but it's been simmering for so long it's almost become like, meh, he might be dead by the side of the road, but probably not, so I guess I'll walk the dog...

  2. Thank you so much! I have written about this from time to time as well... it is one of the biggest areas where I know our lives differ dramatically from those of our friends and neighbors. And, it's hard not to worry about being judged for talking about it (she's so obsessed! or, how can she leave her child in someone else's care?). If I get up every 2 hours to check her blood sugar I'm overdoing it, but if I stay in bed I'm taking an unthinkable risk. Of course our day to day truth is well in the middle but who could really understand what it's like except another d-parent? Great post!

  3. I'm an awe of d-parents. Although I am a young adult, it took a conversation with my Mum to fully appreciate that concern, and that it doesn't go away even as we get older/more independent. I'm glad that you don't let it be overwhelming.

  4. You make a very good point about self-care.

    It's interesting, you described the nagging fear that you have for your daughter in a very similar way to the nagging fear my husband expressed to me when I asked how my diabetes impacts him. Caring for someone with diabetes takes a huge mental toll.


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