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I spent yesterday afternoon with a friend I call “the angry diabetic.” Let me tell you a bit about this friend. He is a smart, savvy guy with a BIG chip on his shoulder about his diabetes. He is 40 years old and has had diabetes for about 30 years now. He is a pumper yet does not carb count properly or test often enough. He is always angry about anything going on in his life and usually he finds a way to blame diabetes for this anger. Often he says it’s not fair he has diabetes (I agree, it’s not fair any of us have diabetes), diabetes holds him back (I disagree, he holds himself back in life), and being diabetic makes him a “loser.” In fact, he has told me more than once that all diabetics are losers. I for one am no loser! His negativity and anger about his diabetes colors his whole life and world. It affects his relationships and his health (he often gets so angry at small things that his blood sugar shoots into the 300’s which then makes him madder!).
Yesterday I expressed my concerns to my friend. I explained I wanted to be his friend but the negative attitude that he always has was wearing me down. It bothered me to see him suffer. He explained to me that he feels he has no control in his life because he is diabetic. He is depressed most of the time. He feels alone, like no one understands how he feels. When we hang out, he gets angry if my blood sugar is in target and his is not. He realizes that his depression is out of hand but feels hopeless, like things will never get better. He acknowledges that his attitude about diabetes “sucks.”
When I returned home, I started thinking about how much the attitude you have about your diabetes can shape how you live your life, as well as how much control you have in your diabetes care. Diabetics are at risk for depression, just as anyone who deals with a chronic illness is. Let’s face it, having diabetes sucks. It is not fun watching every morsel of food that you eat, logging, calculating insulin dosages, and sometimes having to stop doing something you enjoy because your blood sugar is low or high. Even when you do everything right, sometimes your diabetes still does not cooperate! Add depression to the day to day grind of diabetes and your attitude will do a downwards spiral!
You do have control about your attitude towards your diabetes, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. A bad attitude puts you in a bad mood, setting you up for a bad day. It becomes a vicious cycle like my friend is stuck in. Does that mean you should be little miss/mister sunshine all the time? No one can be super upbeat all the time, that is unrealistic! It’s about balance and acceptance of diabetes. If you are feeling like you have a bad attitude towards diabetes, reach out to others. Talk to your doctor, friends, or family. Speak to people online at social networking sites. If you are feeling depressed, talk to your doctor immediately. Depression can suck motivation and positive attitudes right out of you.
So what do you do to change your attitude to a more positive one? Do you struggle with keeping a positive attitude? What do people in your life do to help you keep a positive attitude? I’d love to get your feedback!
PS-My friend is going to talk to his doctor about his antidepressant medication and he is considering going to therapy. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for him!