Grad School

I am currently in graduate school working on my doctorate degree in clinical psychology. I started the summer of 05 and was diagnosed with Type I in 07. I also got hypothyroidism at that time. Needless to say I was tired! I finally got on insulin and started to feel somewhat better, but my stress shot through the roof. I had to slow down my program a year to be able to take care of my health and the ridiculous demands of grad school. Anyway, my schedule is crazy and it’s been hard adjusting to diabetes during this kind of schooling. I see clients two days a week and am terrified I’ll have a low in session. Imagine telling a therapist your deepest feelings or taking an IQ test, and the therapist sweating profusely shaking and obviously irritated. Part of the “blank slate” of the therapist is not telling the client anything about yourself, so they have no idea why I’d be acting odd. Luckily it’s only happened twice, but I constantly worry about the next time it will happen. Grad Shcool life is certainly not conducive to dealing with the first years of diabetes.

to get myself through school, I’d go to the gym to try to “burn” the anxiety or stress, it really helps! as for going low during a session, I would recommend testing your blood sugar before the session starts and if its lower than what you would like, eat something quick, lke a few crackers or glucose tabs.

hope that helps


I survived Grad School (1995 to 1997) with Type I. Yes, the stress of working on a graduate degree can be very hard on your condition.

One suggestion is to get a pump. This will help you regulate your blood sugars more easily. As a college student with diabetes, you need to make sure you have some type of health insurance. A short stay in the hospital with DKA, can cost thousands of dollars.

Good luck in your phd program!

Thanks Andy.

I plan to push for the pump in October. My endo said it is a lot to learn and he was worried I didn’t have the time to learn it. I never understood that, but didn’t argue.

Good point about health insurance. Most of my friends in school go without. I have been on COBRA off of my mom’s family plan for a while now. It’s expensive, but luckily my parents are helping me pay the rate until I finish school and get on my feet.

Only one more year of school though = )

It’s difficult to manage the stress during grad school and take care of your health. I can’t say that I managed my diabetes very well during grad school, but that’s another story for another day.

I’m a therapist, and the suggestion to check before sessions is about the best you can do. The other suggestion to look into a pump is good also because it will enable you to more accurately control your basal insulin. I don’t know what theorists to which you subscribe, but I think the blank slate is over-rated. Obviously, self-disclosure has to be done very judiciously and with therapeutic intent, and as you practice you’ll find a balance that works for you. I have a pump and a CGM, so I’m one step short of walking into sessions wearing a t-shirt that says ‘I’m diabetic’. I set my CGM to vibrate, but it still goes off, and I have to attend to it regardless. My pump has alarmed for various reasons too mid-session, and while that’s less frequent, I have to attend to that too. For me it’s akin to being a pregnant therapist because it’s there, people might know or wonder, sometimes they ask, and sometimes it gets talked about. I’ve had to eat a couple of pieces of candy mid-session too on many occasions. If it’s already come up that I’m diabetic, I tell them my BG feels a little low so I’m just going to eat something while we talk. So how, when and if it comes up varies, but I don’t think it’s necessary to keep it a big secret. I actually think keeping it a big secret creates barriers because you’re compromising your true self, and you’re preoccupied with your own immediate needs so you aren’t in the moment. I think it’s poor role-modeling for how to cope with an uncomfortable situation. They can see it almost as obviously as they can see I’m a white, married, female in my 30’s. It’s all fuel for countertransference, and you deal with it accordingly. That’s why I don’t think very highly of the Freudian, psychoanalytic blank slate approach. So much can be accomplished by use of self as long as you are aware of boundaries, you use purposeful self-disclosure as a means to a therapeutic end, and you work with the countertransference to enhance the therapeutic relationship and promote change.

This is how I’ve come to manage this particular issue, and it has informed my overall approach in some ways. You should definitely have a good chat about it in supervision though. I hope you find a way to approach it that works for you without compromising your work.

Thanks for the advice.

I actually practice interpersonal/psychodynamic therapy. I agree that some self-disclosure to some extent is warranted depending on the relationship and the situation. As far as diabetes I agree that it needs to be addressed. It has taken me out of the moment many times. It’s a new diagnosis for me, and it came when I was very busy. I never really took the time to think it all through. I did talk to a supervisor and even through her psychodynamic perspective, she said I need to tell them. The main thing she made me think about was “what if I pass out”. No need to cause a client more trauma in life.

Luckily, I am done classes for the doctorate and will have a year to work at the master’s level and finish my dissertation. That will free up a lot of time and I’m sure I’ll find a way to balance my life a lot better.

Thanks again for the advice. It’s great to hear from someone in the field!

Good luck writing the dissertation. I keep feeling tempted to get my doctorate, but writing my masters thesis was so painful, I’m not sure how I would ever complete a dissertation. Plus, I’m ear-deep in student loan debt already. :frowning:

Thanks, I’ll need the luck. I decided to do a pretty ambitious study for some reason. Wish I had stuck with just doing a survey…

Also, I would not go back for the doctorate if I were you. Everyone who’s graduated said they would stop at the Master’s if they could do it again. There are so many hoops to jump through for the doctorate that you don’t know about until it’s in your face. After all that you’re in crazy debt, and don’t even make much more money than a Master’s level. The only real difference is testing. That offers good money, but it takes years to get consistent referrals.

Just my opinion = )

I’m currently doing my masters in psychology part-time. I work full-time. I was diagnosed this year. I’m so glad to find other people who are struggling with it!!! I live in a small town so I need to travel to see doctors etc. Dealing with diabetes is taking up so much of my time.

Yeah it will keep you busy. It must be hard to go back to school while working full time. Hopefully your first year hasn’t been too bad. My first year was pretty easy. My endo said it’s the “honeymoon” phase. That has lasted a while for me and helped me get through school. Late nights are tough though…but maybe that’s just everyone??

Good luck!

It is pretty rough at the moment, but my health has to be my number one priority and other people just have to accept that. I’m in my 5th month since diagnosis, although they’re not sure if I’m type 1 or 2. At the moment I’m not on insulin regularly, although I take a little around my period. I’m eating low GI. There has just been so much to learn!!

Yes you have to make your health your top priority. That has really helped me deal. I stop working around 6:00pm regardless of what I left unfinished. I know that’s when I need to eat dinner before a low, and I spend some time taking a break from stress to keep me centered. Also the stress raises blood sugars so it is important to unwind anyway.

I bet it is hard not knowing which Type you are. Before I was on the exact treatment I needed I was miserable. Even a sugar around 170 makes me really tired and unable to think clearly…let alone be creative while sitting with a client.

What is low GI? Low carbs/glucose?

This site helped me learn more about the disease. Hopefully it does the same for you.

Hey fellow stressed out smarties…

Don’t mind my funny attitude, running a bit low at the moment and sometimes I get a bit silly. I read through some of these struggles and yes, they exist! I’m going into my third year of graduate school and my 32nd of diabetes. I experience the same stuff you guys are talking about - making health top priority, stress affecting bs’s, debate between masters and doctorate, and not wanting lows during sessions (I’ve taught for years and low’s then is also a big concern!)…so no matter how recent the diagnosis, we’re not alone:D Guess my only benefit is I’m really used to the feelings (of lows, highs etc). I use a pump and a hard-won CGMS.

Anyway, I’m deciding about applying for the master’s bypass option in my department, so that I can fold in all the research I’ve been planning and get a doctorate in the end. I’m in a program called Design and Human Environment. My degree, whatever it ends up being, will be in Human Behavior and the Near Environment, with an emphasis in Interior Design. My minors are Human Development and Family Sciences and Free-choice learning. I love it! BUT, I’m not so in love with the lows and the highs and the crazy crazy expectations and stresses! It’ll be worth it when I’m done…


GI is a measure of how different carbs affect your blood sugar. Basically they tested all the carbs, and gave them a number indicating if they spike your sugars or are slow release (give you energy and keep you fuller for longer). I think it originated in Australia. So, for example, if I eat carbs I’ll have some brown rice and lentils and not cake or pastries. I think it works really well - the one time I ate a baked potato (high GI) at a restaurant my sugar spiked so badly I felt like I was drunk and was swaying as I walked to the bathroom.

That degree sounds really interesting. Good luck with the process of getting through all the hoops. Loving it makes it much easier though. I read about your struggle with the CGMS. Good for you for not giving up. I bet the combination of that and the pump will minimize the highs and lows during the long days of graduate work.

Thanks for clarifying. I’ve heard GI mentioned, but never knew what it meant. Yeah potatoes are bad, especially at a restaurant. I found I can eat a much greater variety if I eat it at home. Luckily my fiance used to be a cook. He enjoys cooking so I get the feeling of being out to eat without having to lift a finger ; )

Hey Kim! I was diagnosed last year. at the end of my first semester of Grad school. Talk about bad timing. It sucks to be working my ■■■ off in Grad school and trying to be professional all while dealing with super high blood sugars and super low crashes.