It's All About The Attitude

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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!

What do I do to change my attitude? Read your blog! Actually, participating in this social network has done a lot for encouraging and re-motivating me when the going gets tough.

Like my blood sugars, my diabetitude has its ups and downs. It’s soooo much easier to have a great attitude when the numbers are in range! I chuckled at a Roche Accu-Chek blood glucose testing video shown at the recent American Association of Diabetes Educators conference. In it, Dr. William Polansky (fabulous diabetes educator and founder of Behavioral Diabetes Institute) talks about how there are no good or bad numbers, just information. But, of course, when the patient shown in the video tests her blood sugar and it’s in range, he says “good job.” Would he have said “good job” if it was out of range? As cool as he is, I suspect not!

I guess, over the many years I’ve lived with diabetes, I’ve figured out that I will never, ever like or enjoy the condition. But I am proud of the effort I put into controlling it. That takes perseverance and strength and courage. And reaching out to others who understand. So, thanks to my diabetes friends who are not only smart, good-looking, humorous, and kind, but strong, courageous, and imbued with sticktoitiveness–and I’m not talking lancets.

Haha I like the term “diabetitude”; I’ll have to use that one!

I have to agree with Kelly in that this social network has helped a lot. I also have to give some credit to my “diabetes team”, including my endo and the nurses and educators at Helwig Diabetes Center, where I have been taking classes since I started the pump. My BG readings are finally in range more often than not, which helps my mood a great deal, but more importantly, I’m starting to learn how to cope when I don’t like the number I see on the screen. The nurse practitioner at Helwig said something to me at my last appointment that really changed my outlook. We were discussing my most recent log (I always feel incredibly awkward doing this, ashamed I guess) and I told her how frustrating it is sometimes. She said, “But it’s not your fault!” I could have cried right then. Something so simple to tell someone, but it meant so much.

It’s not my fault. Even when it feels like it is, even when I did something “wrong” - forgot to bolus, ate something I “shouldn’t have” or didn’t give enough insulin for it - even then, it’s not my fault. Because I’m trying. And some days, that’s all you can really ask for, right? :slight_smile:

Suzanne, I’m a diabetic and I’m a loser, that’s right, I lost 65 pounds by starting to eat right for a change. Really your friend does need help. Chemical, therapy, both or a 2x4 up side his head to get his attention, I have no idea but he needs help. Hopefully he may see that he is hurting a friend and that may help him to see the light. Now a word of advice, guys, in general, don’t like to be told what to do or how to do it, but… you can gently guide him with " I was reading about… on such and such website" if he wants to make changes, he will go there as soon as he can. but it all comes down to he needs to want to improve.

Cassie, I agree, it’s not your fault! It is hard to not blame yourself for a BG you didn’t expect. Kelly, I agree with Dr. Polonsky in that we are NOT our numbers, they are just information but as a diabetic I often am challenged with taking a number and calling it bad. Calling a good number “good” to me makes it hard to stop labeling a BG as bad if it is not the number I wanted to see. Dave, great job on the weight loss! Thanks for your advice on gentle guiding. I have told him about tu and I hope he will come here. I think it will help him. He has to be the one ready for change and he is not there yet.

I know I didn’t use to be a happy diabetic prior to having an insulin pump. I think that once I got an insulin pump, I got happier (you would think someone who has taken shots since the age of the 9 could deal with the pain on a daily basis but I hated it and always held my breath with every stinking shot). If he has health insurance, maybe he should look into getting an insulin pump. Now I’m even more happy with my Dexcom CGMS (and no I don’t work for an insulin pump company or Dexcom) - I kinda like to see how foods affect me and watch my blood sugar level either slowly incline or sky rocket! ha! ha! I guess I’m an odd person, I get happy over new diabetic gadgets (even new glucometers!). In a way, a got happy once I started getting geeky about taking control of my diabetes. Have you tried talking to him about his glucometer and find out which glucometer he has? I notice when I talk to other diabetics, we have fun comparing our gadgets. Aren’t you also on good ol’ Dex? Tell him about Dex yodeling and looking into getting Dexy or Dex to talk to him - let him know how good ol’ Dex (or in his case Dexy) might keep him up all night (yeah… fun nights!!! HA! HA! just kidding… but seriously, I love Dex yodeling to me with the idiot bell telling me “GO FEED YOURSELF SOME SUGAR NOW WOMAN!!!” :slight_smile: ). Good luck!

Well said everyone:) Diabetes is no picnic…but, sharing w/ you guys makes it easier! and remotivates me in a way that nothing else really has. {{{{{Thanks}}}}

Maybe try to steer your friend to this website I know it’s helped me out alot. Plus he will find out that he’s not alone out there.