Living with diabetes can be very frustrating at times. Low and high blood sugars can get in the way of everything from taking a test at school to having sex. Understanding what the underlying causes of these frustrations are about can help reduce anxiety and stress.
Several things cause frustration when living with diabetes. It’s not what you might expect. That is, if you’re thinking about the thousands of blood test, multiple low blood sugars or doctors appointments. It goes much deeper than that.
While the actual events you’re frustrated about are part of the equation, how we think about our diabetes plays a much larger role. Many aspects create or reduce frustration. Today we’re going to look at these four:
- Your perception of having diabetes,
- Meanings you put on the tasks of managing diabetes,
- Your perspective on fluctuating blood sugars, and
- Self-care behaviors.
Perception Of Diabetes
Everyone has a different perception of their diabetes and what it means to them. Some people view it as a detriment to living a happy life, while others may view it is a blessing in disguise. Then there are those individuals that see it as neutral; just something they have to take care of.
Those in the detriment category tend to view diabetes as negative or unfair, get more easily frustrated over the little things that are needed for diabetes management. The poor me point of view can take over and create a cycle of negative thoughts, decreasing motivation to manage diabetes.
The perception that you’re a victim to your diabetes allows sadness to seep in, and frustration can be found just about anywhere.
People who view it as a blessing in disguise tend to look for the positive aspects of living with diabetes; like being motivated to live a healthier lifestyle and how every day becomes more precious. It may even provide a new life direction. While this perspective reduces frustration, it doesn’t remove it entirely.
The neutral view is rather simple, probably the least frustrating of the three. Thoughts like “This is a blameless illness that I just need to take care of” or “Although, there are many things we don’t have control over, diabetes being one of them, we do have control over how we view them.”
This perspective tends to reduce emotions and increases good judgment.
Diabetes Management Tasks
While doing the same task over and over again with different results is a natural part of living with diabetes, frustration doesn’t have to be part of your life. How people view these tasks can reduce or increase the impact time plays on frustration and, eventually, diabetes burnout.
If you don’t accept that diabetes comes with extra self-care behaviors that others don’t have to do, you become or are resistant to doing these tasks; like taking blood sugars. Then every time you need to do it anger will surface causing frustration over doing it or avoidance altogether causing poor diabetes management.
Poor diabetes management leads to future complications. It hinders one’s ability to think clearly and reduces one’s ability to manage negative emotions, frustration compounds over time.
If you view these tasks as normal self-care behavior like brushing your teeth, then each task becomes less frustrating. While doing the same task over a thousand times creates frustration, if you come to accept the task then your frustration will be lessened, increasing one’s energy and ability to manage their diabetes.
Fluctuating Blood Sugar Levels
Depending on when you’re diagnosed you may have been told, that if your blood sugar goes over or under a certain number, that it is bad. However, if your blood sugars do stay in range, that is good. That perspective increases frustration exponentially. So much so that I have a blog dedicated just to this issue.
Regardless of your blood sugar level, it is difficult or next to impossible to maintain perfect blood sugar control. If fact, it is natural for blood sugars to fluctuate in people without diabetes. Their blood sugars can go down to 60mg/dL and up to 180mg/dL depending on their situation.
That’s why some people view numbers out of range as bad, not normal, like if your blood sugar goes to 250mg/dL. But what is normal for someone living with diabetes, we cannot act as efficiently as a healthy pancreas and so many things impact insulin resistance.
Once you take the value off the number, then your frustration levels will lower exponentially. Numbers are just a guide to what you need to do next, and that’s it!
Not placing emotional values like good and bad on numbers doesn’t mean that you’re not in danger if your blood sugar drops below 70mg/dL. But if it does, blaming yourself doesn’t help, and it is not a reason to blame yourself.
Instead of being emotionally reactive to the number you’re being proactive and taking steps to improve your numbers when you see they are out of range.
Doing nothing to improve your situation will cause a reduction of motivation and increase in frustration. Doing anything that will improve your physical or emotional health will reduce stress, increase motivation, increase self-esteem, and help with your diabetes management.
Here’s a partial list of things that you can do that contribute to reducing stress and decreased frustration:
- Talk about your frustrations with a non-biased friend or family member.
- Reach out to your healthcare providers (CDE, Psychotherapist, endocrinologist, etc.)
- Try different hobbies, read for enjoyment and exercise three times a week
- Attend Yoga, meditation, tai chi, massages, acupuncture, etc.
- Go to the museum, movies, botanical gardens, etc.
- If available, join a support or meet up group for people with diabetes.
When everything is said and done, it is important to reduce stress levels and take a more neutral well-balanced approach when addressing diabetes.
Changing your perspective can make all the difference in the world when it comes to reducing frustration while managing your diabetes. If you’re having trouble doing that, please reach out. Diabetes-Focused Psychotherapy can help.