Anxiety and diabetes. my story

Hello everybody,

I am a fairly new diagnosed LADA diabetic and I am very glad to have found this community, I am a member only a few days now and already feel more understood and supported than I could have imagined.
The story of my diagnosis is somewhat odd thus I thought might be worth sharing.
I was not diagnosed through the "usual" symptoms – for several years I have had a history of anxiety issues (mainly panic attacks) for which I saw a therapist. I had phases of feeling better and worse, and for a while I thought that therapy helped me a great deal, until about half a year prior to my diabetes dx I started having the worst panic attacks of my life. Sometimes I couldnt even leave the house anymore without getting extremely dizzy and shaky, and my work (as a photographer) started to suffer a great deal.
I kept telling this therapist I was seeing that I feel that something must be wrong with me BEYOND the anxiety I am experiencing, that something feels terribly wrong physically. But he insisted that all my symptoms were very likely of psychosomatic nature, and that the key to getting better is to trust my body -that it is perfectly healthy, that it is my mind I needed to learn to control. (Unfortunately, the symptoms of an oncoming panic attack can be VERY similar to those of high blood sugar- sweating, dizzyness, pounding heart...)
In the end, one day I nearly fainted during work, went to the hospital, got checked head to tow, they also took my blood, and when I was released they gave me my test results and said "We couldn't find anything wrong with you, everything looks fine".
Only because I am a person with hypochondriac tendencies :-) I looked at the results again myself when I was home, and saw that my glucose level was at 273. It was printed in bold letters so i thought that thats kinda weird, called a friend who is a doctor and she confirmed that this was definately NOT a normal number.
Long story short, 2 weeks later i was officially a diabetic. The coming weeks were probably the hardest of me life. With all the stress thats been going on, the new diagnosis and my "mental fragility" mixed in, I was feeling like a 80 yr old little lady in a body of a 33yr old. Literally. I thought I would never go back to feeling like my old self. I had lost trust in my own body, in my mind, and pretty much in most of the medical system and doctors I had come across. I was so confused. Did I trigger my diabetes through being mentally unstable and anxious for years? Or were those panic attacks at all real or was it high blood sugar all along that had made me feel this way?? WHAT the hell was happening to my body??
But I also knew that right now I had to deal with a very real issue, that was my diabetes. And I did. I read everything I could find on the subject, I followed all the instructions I could get, measured my BG all the time, I started changing my diet, went exercising, and slowly started working again.
And slowly started feeling I am getting back some control.
Which seemed honestly like a miracle to me.
I guess I am writing this (in a very elaborate way, sorry!) because I think an illness like diabetes (and anxiety, too) all have to do with issues like self trust, taking charge, learning to listen to yourself and finding out what is good for you. Trust, mainly.
I still struggle all the time, but having had to deal with all those issues somehow also gave me back some strength which I had definitely lost through the previous years.

I could NEVER bring myself to call my diabetes "a blessing in disguise", its way to annoying to be called that, but for me it did present some sort of chance. It forced me to act. My anxieties did the opposite.

Hey Julez. Just wanted to say "great post". You sound like you have become very self-aware and imho that's always a good thing! All the things you describe such as "self trust, taking charge, learning to listen to yourself and finding out what is good for you." I would call self-empowerment. Self-empowerment is not something someone else can give you, it's something you have to find within yourself. But people in our lives, whether professionals or friends can support us in that exploration. Doctors treating PWD's should support us in becoming self-empowered to manage our diabetes, but they rarely do. Therapists and counselors do think of encouraging self-empowerment as a big part of what they do - at least the good ones do.

No your anxiety issues didn't cause your D, definitely not, but it sounds like closer to your diagnosis the panic disorder and low blood sugars might have formed a perfect storm and exacerbated each other. Unfortunately when people have been diagnosed with any form of mental illness they tend to distrust their own judgement. (When really, what they should do is learn to trust it more than your average person as they've had to become more self aware). And then if you run into idiot experts who tell you with a blood glucose of 273 that you are "fine" it doesn't help! Good work on sorting it all out and starting on the path of dealing with your D, and more important regaining trust in yourself.

I’m so glad you found us :slight_smile: sounds as if you are taking charge of your own health, and gathering the info you need. A lot of us here (myself included) have stories of various misdiagnoses or having high BG results ignored.

You’ll find loa ds of info and knowledgable people here. Keep up the good work!

Thank you both for your kind and encouraging words.
To be honest I thought twice before bringing up the whole anxiety thing as I know it is still a "touchy subject" somehow and talking (or writing) about it can make some people uncomfortable. Although there has been a lot of progress in the last few years, here in Germany, depression or anxiety disorders are still somehow associated with weakness or even being a little bit "crazy"..
But I am a firm believer in the good that comes from talking and communicating about it, far too many people everywhere suffer from some sort of mental illness and it simply MUST become absolutely normal to talk about it. -Just like it is with diabetes. And just like diabetes, it is nothing anybody should have to feel shame or guilt about.
And as far as I could gather up to about 20 % of all diabetics also suffer from depression/anxiety, so I thought it might be relevant to some around here.

If anything, people who face additional challenges like this -or any other - should get some sort of medal, or flowers delivered every monday, or a paid vaccation every now and then ;)

Love your attitude Julez :). However…I want to know where my flowers are!