Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not the Only Villain

Sometimes I forget that I struggle with more than just diabetes. There's also chronic depression. And, honestly, I forget it largely because I'm so much happier than I was about six months ago. I have a job I like more, I have a career goal and am working toward it, I no longer feel crappy because of undiagnosed diabetes, and getting diagnosed with diabetes has honestly given me a lot of perspective and direction in life.

But chronic depression isn't a direct result of the state of your life, it's a direct result of your brain chemistry. (Though it's admittedly also affected by the state of your life).

So when I started feeling almost weak on my feet, unsteady, and almost unwilling to take the next step and then another, I kept repeatedly checking Dexcom and my meter to see what my blood sugar was doing. I really felt that it must me low or plummeting, but how could two separate meters and a CGM be wrong? I did eventually sink to the 70s at one point and, still feeling awful, I opted to go ahead and drink a juice box since I was slowly moving downward...

But that juice box and my rising blood sugar did not help the way I felt. Searching for my stupid devil horns in boxes we still haven't unpacked since the move was an effort in that my hand barely wanted to move items aside, and my knees wanted to let me sink to the ground. I should have known what was going on when I finally lay in the middle of the floor because I didn't even want to drag myself to the bedroom or couch to lie down... That's something I used to do all too often, when things were much worse in life.

And when friends arrived to pick Chad and me up for Ghouls Gone Wild, I found myself almost in tears over wanting to go enjoy the parade yet knowing that I would not enjoy it and quietly blaming myself for letting some sort of mysterious diabetes symptom keep me from having fun. Walking three or four blocks? How would I put one foot in front of another so many times if I barely had the energy to move from one room to another in my own home? Standing there for an hour watching floats and costumes, many of which are very cool and impressive, how could I focus on anything like that while trying not to freak out about the crowd and the noise? I'd have to stay home... but maybe I shouldn't stay home alone--because what if something was really wrong with me--but how could I ask my husband to also stay home because of my disease?

That irrational argument against asking Chad to help keep me safe is what caused my confusion to lift. This was not some mystery symptom of diabetes, this was a far more familiar companion: depression.

Oh yes, hi, I know you all too well. I had not thought to look for you, because you are not the greatest villain in my life anymore, but I recognize you. You are sneaky, conniving, and cunning. You caught me off guard, but I am much better equipped to deal with you now. You know what I've learned from my diabetes? Management, and the acceptance of What My Life Is. I'm always diabetic, but I keep my blood sugar under control without despair at the thought of having to do test after test, bolus after bolus... and the thought that diabetes will still throw me a curve ball every now and then. Likewise, I am always dysthymic but will keep my depression under control without despair at the thought of having to manage it for the rest of my life... and that you will still throw me a curve ball every now and then.

But neither will get the better of me ever again. Period.

This is one of the many positive ways that diabetes has impacted my life; it's made me better equipped to face long-lasting struggles and not feel like I'm struggling. It also caused me to go to counseling to help adjust to the changes in my life, which has taught me how to look at my thoughts from the outside and recognize that I am not my thoughts. (An odd concept, I know, but it made perfect sense as I recognized that totally irrational thought.)

So hi, depression. I acknowledge you. Now I'm going to manage you, and this time, I am going to get the better of you.

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