Mental Health

I know some people may find this too personal of a question, but I was wondering how many people sought therapy/counseling from a mental health specialist to help deal with the many issues that may have been created as a result of having diabetes. AND, what are some of the things that you may be going through? (I have to say that I sometimes get depressed, fear is a biggie, oh yeah, let’s not leave out anxiety, isolation at times, and relationships-or lack of.)
For those of you that have: Has it been helpful?
For those of you that have not: Do you think about going?

I have not gone yet, but I made my first appt. for next week and am curious as to what experiences others may have had.
SO, please share any and all thoughts regarding this :slight_smile:

I apologize in advance for my tangents and the length of this… I’ve been in counseling, and I am now a therapist so I think very highly of it :slight_smile: As Debb said, it can be good to go just for a “mental fine tuning”, or I tell people, a proactive step rather than a reactive step, especially soon after diagnosis. I started getting depressed around age 13 or so, and I started to have eating disorder symptoms at age 14. The depression came on slowly, and it wasn’t until I was 16 that it became disabling - I was cutting school more often than going, crying constantly, not managing my 'betes at all (I had been a very good, conscientious student until then and managed my 'betes fairly well when I was younger). My mom tried to get me to go see someone for a few months, but I flat-out refused until I guess I realized I was just getting worse and it was affecting my friendships. Anyway, I spent many years in counseling with only a few very short breaks, and I also had several stints of eating disorder treatment. Once I started anti-depressants shortly before I turned 17, the depression improved greatly. Over the years, I’ve had times when my medication has lost its effectiveness, so I’ve had to be switched, but I’ve been on the one I currently take for 12 years now. When I get lazy about taking it, I notice the symptoms re-emerge, so I believe the way my neurotransmitters work is just permanently off, and I’ll take anti-depressants the same as I have to take insulin - for life. I’m OK with that because it helps me feel like a normal person. You’re not really asking about meds though, so I’ve gotten off track… It took a few years for me to consciously realize how much I hated diabetes, how angry and resentful I was of it. I remember a psychiatrist and social worker asking me how I felt about it when I was 16, and I was in complete denial. I told them it didn’t bother me, that I just did the stuff I had to do and lived my life. I truly believed that too. I thought it was an absurd suggestion that diabetes would upset me since I’d lived with it for 11 years by that time. That’s why I advise people to just try talking to someone even if they aren’t all that emotionally distressed about it. It can be very helpful, even cathartic, to process it with someone else who’s trained to do that. The human brain is funny, and it will protect us from thoughts and feelings we aren’t ready to face. It’s easier to face those things within a supportive therapeutic relationship. So in my 20’s I finally started to deal with my anger and grief, my eating disorder had just gotten worse, so I was also addressing that. It wasn’t until I was 32 that I was able to finally overcome my eating disorder, and coincidence or not, that was around the same time that I started to feel OK about my 'betes. My situation is a lot different than yours of course, I didn’t adjust to the 'betes so well as a child (even though I seemed to be handling it as well as any other child in the same situation - appearances can be deceiving when it comes to mental health), and that more or less wrecked me since it took so many years to mend that damage. I just wish there wasn’t such a stigma attached to mental health treatment, and people wouldn’t wait so long to seek counseling. Of course, one issue I always encountered (for all but one of the therapists I had because she was also an RN) was they don’t know a lot about diabetes. I was always having to educate someone about it. Luckily, there came a point during which I had enough insight to recognize that it was at the heart of my emotional distress, so I was able to facilitate that process in therapy.

Apparently there’s a maximum length to replies, and I guess I reached it (how embarrassing!) so here’s the rest of what I was saying…

I could stand on a soapbox for hours and tell you what I think needs to be different about how mental health care is delivered to diabetics. I believe that lack of appropriate mental health resources and the lack of understanding and attention diabetes medical staff give to the emotional side of diabetes are doing us all a tremendously huge disservice. This is your treatment though, so I know most people are limited to in-network providers, but try and find one with whom you feel comfortable, and don’t be afraid to ask them what they know about diabetes and the types of issues you want to work on. Also, therapy isn’t a quick-fix, so be patient. If you feel like you’re not making progress within a time-frame in which you expected to make progress, discuss that with the therapist before you just decide to quit or move on.

That’s the long answer. The short answer is that counseling saved my life. :slight_smile:

Wow Lee Ann, that really hits upon reasons to support going to counseling. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts/experiences. Hopefully my experience will be as beneficial as yours.

My ex pulled that same trash on me too. "I can’t deal with your diabetes’ I said “I do all the dealing, so that isn’t gonna work.” I kicked HIM out because “I ‘can’t deal’ with Bovine Fecal matter”.

Losers… they can barely deal with themselves :expressionless: What would happen if one of their KIDS got this? They gonna put them up for adoption or something? Sheesh!

Thanks Debb, and that is too bad that you had to experience that within your marriage. The way I look at it is, better to find out sooner that somebody is no good, rather than later.
I also agree with you saying that seeing somebody not so much for the diabetes itself, but for the issues it creates.
Glad to hear that you are doing well now!

“bovine fecal matter” haha

I like that :slight_smile:

Good for you Jenny, if people aren’t with you…

I haven’t gone to counseling, but have thought about it many times. It carries such a stigma in the common public, but I don’t think I’d be embarrased about it. I think I have just been scared about it in the past.
I do deal with some minor depression, especially during the winter months (my guess is undiagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder), and that has been when I have most thought about seeking help.
Dealing with diabetes, even though it’s all I’ve ever known, is still very difficult at times.

Hi Cara, thanks for sharing! I know what you mean about the not so sure feeling of going. I finally said to myself, “Just go”. I experience those winter months just the same, not sure if it’s SAD or not, but to be honest, I am kind of looking forward to going to hear what other insight somebody might have.
I also see you are a teacher, that’s great! I think counseling sessions are in order if only for our profession :slight_smile:

I could go on about this too.
I think that the emotional aspects of diabetes are absolute monsters. I have had db for 34 years and spent about the first 25 totally paralyzed by fear of complications - fear that, unfortunately served as an excuse for me not to take are of myself. Big regrets.
I have a family history of clinical depression on my mother’s side. Both of her parents routinely would have acute depressive episodes, at that time termed “nervous breakdown” and have to be taken to Minneapolis for electroshock treatments. They’d get better for a couple of years and then relapse.
On my dad’s side, there are/were a total of 32 type 1’s, some who have passed on and some who are enduring complications. I grew up watching this, so when I was diagnosed as a teenager, I had my first major depression. No one noticed, and I sort of crawled out of it on my own.
For several years I was in therapy but never mentioned the diabetes - probably because I was in a big state of denial. Then, about 10 years ago after a very scary hospitalization I got connected up with a counselor at a diabetes center. He was very helpful - very understanding. Although he did not have it himself, his dad was type 1 so he, in a sense, “got it”. He then burnt out and moved to another specialty.
The gentleman who replaced him is kind, but we do not really connect.
I am now seeing a family therapist re issues about my mother’s life drawing to a close - she is very ill with emphysema. In a sense, it is helpful to talk about other issues because life is full of other issues in addition to the db.
I have never gone to a support group for db’s but consider the online comunities to serve that purpose.
I also take SSRI meds for the depression They definitely take the edge off, but don’t completely solve the problem.

So…by all means, go. I am so very lucky in that my insurance pays for unlimited mental health visits. It’s hard, though, to take time from work to schedule them. If you do not feel a connection after a couple of visits, try someone else. I believe there is help available. Good luck.

Hi Kathy, I appreciate you taking the time to share all that. It sounds like we all have our own demons which try to delay us on taking that first step. You bring up a good point about assessing after a couple visits if there is a connection and I will keep that in mind. I am sorry to hear about the status of your mother. As you said, our lives are full of other issues. I suppose finding a way to keep going forward is the key.

Life keeps moving forward and it’s our decision whether or not to go willingly or be dragged along, eating dust. I was talking to a friend about an issue I was very anxious about. I said “I don’t know what to do…”. She wisely replied, “well, do what comes next.”

Peace to you - have a good week ahead.