No matter who you are and no matter whether you have a chronic disease like diabetes or not everyone faces challenging times. Tragedy, fear, a leaky roof, a head cold, a broken down car or a broken leg. Everybody gets a little something along the way. And like they say, “in the end, no one gets out alive anyway”.
So with that in mind let’s take a look at how these things affect us. What exactly am I worried about today? What is eating away at my brain and making me so distracted that I can hardly think of anything else? Or, what are the concerns that never seem to go away, that wake me at night and greet me in the morning? Stop and think for a second. What are those things?
Long before I was diagnosed with type I diabetes I was working in the printing industry. It amazed me how extremely upset and panicked people would become over a small issue on a given job. It may very well be quite important, but still, it was only ink on paper. No one was going to die as a result of whatever problem was the focus of all this negative energy. The problem was always fixable. There is always a solution, an answer or an option. But I recognized this is a pattern that had little to do with printing and everything to do with life.
It should come as no surprise, especially to us PWD, that sometimes a small event can explode in our mind to become an overwhelming crisis. Only to find out later that there is a reasonable and sometimes very simple solution. This is in no way to diminish some of the very real and life altering issues we can all face. But, I think we all know that everything we worry about does not fall into that category. And besides that, as mentioned above, having diabetes is not a requirement for this exercise.
Therefore, I submit to you this litmus test I use to determine my degree of reaction to any given problem. It is very simple and definitely gives a good perspective when I get sideways on some silly problem. So here it is;
“On a scale of 1 to 10, nine being imminent death (I am going to die) and 10 being nuclear holocaust (everything and everyone I know and love will die) just exactly how big is this problem”?
One of my favorite sayings is, “Life may select the picture, but you choose the frame.” Reframing our problems is all about changing our perspective and introducing a more realistic context. When our metabolic challenges are compared to death and nuclear holocaust, it tempers our emotional response.
I’ve had good results by saying to myself, “If this is the biggest problem I’m going to have to solve [today/this week/this month], I’ve got life handled.” Or some words to that general effect.
I think it is important to both self-validate our fears and place them in perspective.
I have used a similar “mantra” for years.
If something negative happens to me, I say, “If this is the worst thing that happens to me today, it’s gonna be a great day.”
It really works to put things into perspective. One day, it helped me to keep calm when my car broke down on a recent trip. (It also helps to have Triple A.
I find that most situations are horrible because they are so inconvenient. I find that almost anything can be solved if you have a cell phone, some emergency money, and patience. Especially patience.
This is why I always try to have extra time. More time diminishes most “Oh Crap” moments. I leave for places early so I have some time for traffic issues, I get my work done as soon as possible in case a surprise happens (I work in a nursing home, we get admissions and deaths at the most inconvenient times), if I have a task to do at home, I get it done in a reasonable time frame so I have time to do the things I forgot about or just plain old want to do. Time is my friend, and I try to make extra time anywhere I can. I can’t stand rushing!
Also, I agree with the others. If this is the worst thing that happens today, I’m going to have a pretty easy day.
I said something similar to that to a resident at the nursing home I work at. She was complaining about her juice being too cold. I kindly told her that if that’s the worse thing she has to complain about, she must be doing alright. She laughed and agreed. (Then I got her some juice that had been sitting out and wasn’t so cold)
. . . +1 to everything said so far.
And if for some reason I’m 80 or 100 points higher than I calculated I should be, well . . . that’s what insulin is for. Fix it and move on.
I’ve met people who use the occasion of any problem or crisis to act out and become emotional, even the magnitude of a given problem is irrelevant, they always lose it as if it were a ten. Essentially, the problem serves as an excuse in order to behave that way. Ironically, keeping a cool head during a crisis is advantageous for finding a solution, and it can be learnt, but some don’t want to, I guess.
What helps me when I feel overwhelmed with worry is to focus on what makes me feel grateful or the ways in which “it could be worse.”
No, I’m not grateful my son has diabetes – I hate it every single day. But I am grateful that it is a chronic disease and not a fatal one. I am grateful that my particular skills can actually be of concrete benefit to him (being able to code an AP and think analytically will probably benefit my son more than his ER doc grandfather’s skill set will, for instance – not the case with most other diseases). I am grateful he was diagnosed now and not 100 or 50 or even 20 years ago. I am grateful that we have insurance and are not wanting for money, so providing the best care is not an issue. And I’m grateful he’s still the same lovable boy he was before the diagnosis.
On the other hand, I think we humans have some predisposition to be put off balance by little crises, and to adapt a weirdly calm way to the big ones. So I do have sympathy for the tendency to freak out, even if it’s not the healthiest long-term response.