Stress Levels

So I know a lot about my own levels of anxiety and stress for a couple reasons: I'm in the Psychology Field and more important, I've had difficulties dealing with both in my life. Happily, since I got older, I have put this knowledge to good use and both have much less of both in my life, and know how to deal with it very well when I do so I cut it off at the pass so to speak!

So it's been surprising to me that this pattern, of less anxiety and stress reactions as I've gotten older seems to have changed and I think it has a lot to do with managing Type 1. Ironically, I don't find dealing with Type 1 in and of itself particularly stressful: I pretty much guessed I had diabetes when I asked for the original blood glucose test and then I again figured out on my own I was Type 1, rather than Type 2. I pretty much manage it day to day, do my best, and don't really get to concerned about the ups and downs of it all.

But somehow spending all that time managing Type 1 takes its toll even if it doesn't feel stressful. I equate it to the studies they did on people who lived in very noisy urban environments who basically don't notice the noise anymore but it still takes its toll. Type 1 takes up a lot of space in my life and so I think it doesn't leave much room for anything else stressful. So the end result is when I have even a relatively small stressor pop up I recognize its impact on me as similar to what I had at a much younger age. My frustration tolerance has gone down and I think all the time I spend dealing with Type 1 is responsible. Anyone else relate?

Yes I can relate. Diabetes is a very high maintenance health condition to deal with. You have to be on it every two hours. At least I do. Whether its checking sugar, taking shots, figuring meals and snacks, there’s some thing to be done every few hours. Sometimes it’s difficult to focus on anything else. I think that’s where the stress levels start to rise. Everyone has important obligations that have to be taken care of. When worried about a diabetes related issue, I find it hard to care much about anything else. I’m in the midst of an issue right now and it’s causing me great stress. I’m actually thinking about quitting my job so I can just concentrate on bring diabetic for a while.

Thanks for your response, Cinderfella. I only work part time now and can't even imagine working full time and dealing with our full time condition as well!

Interesting that you are working part-time. I feel so guilty because I want to quit. I wouldn’t quit completely. I would try to find something part-time as well. I would want something that is not career based, something with less responsibility. It’s hard to let go though. It’s sad in a way. It would signal the start of winding down my life. The stress of it all has just become so much.

I don't know, I think I'm the odd ball, I don't let it consume me and I have very good control. But I work full time, going back to school for my BSN-I think though diagnosed at 10, I saw literally I'm going to have this forever, and I made the choice I'm NOT going to let it consume me. I'm not going to let it limit me, I'm going to live. For me, I don't turn down that piece of birthday cake at our monthly birthday's...I'll take a "small" piece, but I'm going to enjoy it with all my other co-workers. When holidays roll around, I might not consume as much holiday goodies as a non-diabetic, but I am going to enjoy it. The overall effect of this last holiday was an A1c of 6.0...not to bad.

I agree it takes a lot of time and can be sort of stressful. I deal with it by staying on top of it, which is probably good, but perhaps it leaves other holes in my life that, well, aren't really fillable. I have a bunch of things that sort of add up. Junior dislocated her knee, has recovered but the added chore of driving back and forth to PT several times/ week, on top of being the dance chauffeur, chef, trying to exercise myself,can get me pretty wound up. Tonight I sort of snapped, PT took longer than usual, I went running, it was like 31 degrees w/ misting and snow had been melting so the sidewalks were getting icy so I ran in the road, a bus didn't like it and honked and I went bonkers, yelling, obscene gestures, etc. since I was running properly in the roadway. It was an ok run until the end and my BG had crashed out and the evening has been really *bleh*. But it's better than if the bus had hit me.

I technically retired, Cinderfella, but I have a "second career" of teaching and continued to do that part time. I was diagnosed a month before my retirement! I think you have to take care of yourself, and if you can quit and do something part time and take better care of yourself, I say go for it! And yes, "retiring" or "quitting" is a big step, but I just look at it as a new phase of my life. It's been nearly 6 years for me now; I was kind of at loose ends for awhile wondering what to do next, but now I'm happy with it all.

I think I'm an odd ball, too, Christy. I always feel vaguely guilty when people talk about "panic" and "stress" from managing D, and to me it's just "what I do" even though mine is much more recent than yours - I've never really fought it, but am pretty "bought in". It's just the other stuff that seems to stress me out more than it used to! I don't eat sugar at all for other reasons, but definitely agree on living your life and not letting D limit it. good for you for maintaining that attitude from such a young age!

Ah yes, definitely sounds like you relate. Glad your girl is doing better and glad the bus didn't hit you!

Oh, god, the stress!

I'm a full-time pre-med student, taking my MCATs this June. I also commute to school weekly and still mostly run my house. At the very least, I deal with my sister, who's 19 but needs a lot of support from me.

I manage several chronic conditions, none of which have been properly diagnosed to date. In between running to doctors, trying new medications or regimens, schoolwork, the MANDATORY 8 hours or more of sleep, my family, my house...yeah, it's stressful. I do my best to deal with it. I've learned some great stress reduction techniques in the process. I think the most important is to always make time for myself. It's important that I don't freak out at people or things, no matter how badly I feel that day, emotionally or physically. The calmer I am on a general level, the less likely I am to have the "little things" (which usually aren't little at all) bother me.

Wow, I'm impressed guitarnut!!

I appreciate that you make sure you don't freak out at people or things no matter how badly you feel. That's what I used to do when I was younger and it's amazing people tolerate it. Now I can feel my tone rising and I can just let it go which not only helps the other person but me as well.

Oh, I never said that I don't, I just said it was a priority! :-)

I mean, really, if I've been 160 for three hours and then I have to go walk a mile home in the freezing cold AND it's raining, I'm certainly not going to be happy. I just turn up my iPod and take a few deep breaths and tell the weather how much I hate it. Let the people on the street think I'm talking to someone on the phone (oh, thank goodness for those headphones that people use as speakers for their phones--they make me seem SO much more normal).

It doesn't help much if I yell at my father--that only makes him madder. My sister, too, though she seems to get more hurt than angry if I raise my voice to her. I definitely used to be calmer way back when when I felt "good" all the time. I know that the summer I started to have muscle and joint pain was the summer I started having issues with staying calm. I just usually feel like letting my temper gain control doesn't help me very much. In fact, for me, dealing with it works better than letting it out beccause if I let it out, I usually don't calm down too fast. If, however, I deal with it in my head or with my guitar or by writing or something, I usually calm down really quickly. Different things work for different people, though. As long as what you do works for you!

Have you tried yoga or Tai-Chi? I've heard that they do wonders for stress levels.

Yeah, I agree, there's my ideal, and my reality! I've actually done lots of groups and taught others how to deal with stress and anxiety, but that's easier then doing it for myself! I do have a good bunch of tools in my tool box, it's just remembering to take one out and use it! Using my "witness" is what helps me most, being aware of what I'm feeling/doing/behaving/thinking and not just reacting. I also write about things when they are ongoing issues, or sometimes just to list "I'm dealing with this and that and this" which justifies why I feel stressed, but paradoxically that helps me let it go! But for the most part I deal with them in the moment. I tend to get more stressed out by an accumulation of small stressors. But I'm lucky that at this point I don't generally have high stress levels or ongoing levels of stress. Yoga and Tai-Chi are great resources but more what I suggest to others than actually do myself!

It sounds like you do a lot of "in the moment" stuff but not so much for periodic stress release. Even if I don't feel stressed, I make sure to de-stress so I don't get to that point! That's why yoga and Tai-Chi are so great--they're usually done with a class or something, and that's periodic. If you don't let the stress go before it builds up, you'll have a harder time dealing with it. You won't have an accumulation of small stressors if you're constantly doing something to let the stress go.

They're offering yoga classes @ work once a week at lunch so I signed up. We occasionally incoporated some yoga/ t'ai chi stretches into Tae Kwon Do classes so I'm not totally unfamiliar with it, although I've never done yoga for an hour so I'm looking forward to it, plus having a way to sneak in an extra workout at lunch! I was back and forth as I am likely to be the only guy participting however the day we got the "Yoga Classes" email, I got an weekly article email headlined "Yoga for better running" or something like that so I figured I'd give it a shot.

You will love Yoga. Could not get through my life without it! It seems to balance everything out.

T1 is a stress of some sort, there is no doubt about it. In my younger years I would stress that my control would cause problems in my future or not testing enough may lead to an unexpected hypo. Now, the appointments, money, time and thought are a stress. I look at stress more like a bucket. T1 fills the bucket up a little bit. A job fills it up a little more. Family life, bills, other comitments, etc. add more stress into my bucket. I have to realize I cannot let the bucket overflow and take appropriate measures.

T1 certainly increases my stress, but luckily I have a wife that understands this (as much as posssible) and will try to lessen the stress if possible.

I was just talking to someone yesterday about how insanely busy I feel. I feel like I literally don't have enough time in a day. I'm working full-time, finishing my master's thesis, volunteering, plus (although they don't know this) dealing with diabetes and my vision which both add a TON of extra time to things. I think because I was diagnosed at a young age it's hard to tell the effect diabetes (and vision) has had on my life, but I sometimes wonder how much extra time I would have if I had neither.

With diabetes, I often feel like either my control is excellent and the rest of my life is neglected, or the rest of my life is awesome but my control is neglected. I'm currently in the latter category. I still do everything I "should" but it seems like for me to keep decent numbers I have to put an inordinate amount of time into everything and into troubleshooting the random stuff, which I just haven't had time to do lately. Figuring what settings need changing and keeping up with changes every couple of weeks plus all the random highs/lows that don't warrant actual changes but need to be dealt with just takes soooooo much time! That's the kind of thing I find stressful. If I could get into a routine of doing the same thing every day and having diabetes "behave" then I'd be set!

So all that rambling to say ... yes, I do relate. :)

I really like the bucket analogy, Capin. That describes really well how I feel.

I'm also lucky to have a spouse who picks up more than his share of the load so that I have fewer things in my bucket. He was out of town for a week and I had to pick up the slack with picking up mail, laundry, grocery shopping, getting the dog to take her meds and it was crazy how all those little things added so much more stress to my day. I always appreciate my husband, but the last week made me appreciate what he does for me that much more.

One of the biggest stressors that diabetes care adds to my life is sleep deprivation. It's really hard to be up and down at night with highs and lows and get up for a full day of work. It can be exhausting.

One thing I found interesting since I've had my CGM is that with extreme acute episodes of stress, I can actually watch the trend line begin to go up during stressful conversations. My husband was laid off for a period of time last year and every time we talked about it, I watched that trend line go up. The way I dealt with it, and the way I deal with most stress in my life, is to create a "plan", a "worst case scenario, back-up plan". Once I've mentally dealt with the worst that can happen, the stress seems to be relieved. That actually sounds a little crazy, but it works for me.

I'm actually going through another stressful situation at work now where we are going through a merger where there has been very little communication and many administrators are retiring or just leaving. The uncertainty of the future and the internal struggle with "am I better off staying or looking elsewhere" is super stressful. Trying to take one day at a time and praying alot.