How Does Diabetes Affect Your Mental Health?

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What is it about diabetes that is so hard?

When I tell people – especially people who don’t know much about diabetes – about my work, they usually look confused. Most people think of diabetes as a physical condition and have never really thought about the mental aspects that come with living with the condition. Even some people with diabetes are surprised that there are organizations like CDMH that focus on diabetes and mental health. They know that living with diabetes is hard for them, but often they are surprised to hear that their concerns are actually (and unfortunately) quite common.

So how does diabetes affect your mental health, exactly? I tend to think about diabetes and mental health issues very broadly. While some people with diabetes have a mental health condition (that may or may not be related to having diabetes), there are many others who struggle with issues that are very real, but which may not meet the (sometimes arbitrary) criteria for a mental health diagnosis.

Psychology is the study of how situations, emotions, and relationships in our lives interact and impact our behavior. I think that this definition provides us with a framework we can use to talk about how diabetes very much affects mental health.

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Situations

Diabetes is a self-managed condition. This means that it is the person with diabetes, not their doctor, who is responsible for taking care of him or herself on a daily basis. Diabetes involves making frequent, sometimes life or death decisions under sometimes stressful and physically uncomfortable circumstances. In addition, diabetes management is constant and can feel overwhelming. If you or someone close to you has diabetes, take a minute and think about all of the steps you take in your diabetes management everyday. What to eat, how much medicine to take, when (or whether) to exercise, how to interpret a glucose reading, how many carbs to take to treat a low, the list goes on. Decisions, and resulting behaviors (and their consequences) are critical aspects of diabetes management. However doing everything necessary to manage diabetes can become overwhelming – and feeling overwhelmed is usually no fun.

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Emotions

Many people with diabetes know that that having diabetes can result in some unpleasant and uncomfortable emotions. One question that I get asked a lot why living with diabetes is so tough and what causes these negative emotions. Unfortunately, this is not an easy question to answer. Being diagnosed and living with a chronic condition like diabetes can be really hard, and as we talked about before, managing balancing everything that’s necessary to live well with diabetes can be overwhelming. Even if you do everything that you are ‘supposed’ to do, diabetes can be unpredictable and frustrating. And if you aren’t able to do everything you are ‘supposed’ to do, it can cause feelings of anxiety, guilt and even hopelessness. And we haven’t even talked about the emotional impact of not feeling well. As you can see, there is no easy answer to this question because well, diabetes is complicated.

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Relationships

Diabetes can have a big impact on the way that people with diabetes live their daily lives and interact with the world, and this can be especially challenging when it comes to relationships with family and friends. Stress and other negative emotions can affect the ability to be present in relationships, and sometimes the ability to have relationships at all. And that is without even throwing diabetes in the mix. Relationships are an important part of the human condition and in many people’s emotional well-being, and when diabetes affects relationships – and it does – this can cause a significant level of distress.

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Behavior

I am a big believer that everything we have talked about up to this point leads back to behavior. People often seek mental health treatment because of how their situation, emotion or relationship is causing them to behave. Having diabetes and the stress it involves (the situation), the way it makes you feel (the emotions), and the impact it has on your relationship with others intersect, and can sometimes make it difficult to behave in the way that you want to. For some people, this means adhering to their diabetes treatment plan and taking care of themselves. For others this means feeling so depressed, anxious or helpless that they have trouble going to work or school, or doing things they enjoy. Still for others diabetes causes strain or conflict in a relationship, making it hard to be a loving supportive friend. And for others, it is a combination of all of these issues and others we haven’t talked about here.

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Always remember: it will get better

Even though the intersection of diabetes and mental health is complex, I want to re-assure that there’s hope. There are many people living with diabetes who live fulfilling lives and who have fulfilling relationships. If you are struggling with diabetes-related stress issues, know that it can and will get better. But before we can solve a problem, it’s important to think critically and define it. I hope that this gives you a good place to start.

Ditch the Fitspo. Here’s Real Fitness Inspo!

Fitness for Everyone!

Fitness: It Really Is Awesome.

Physical activity, along with watching your diet, checking your blood glucose, and taking your medication, is a key part of diabetes management. Exercise increases insulin sensitivity, making it easier for your cells to take sugar out of the bloodstream, which keeps your blood glucose levels low. If you don’t already have a fitness plan, you can check out this infographic to learn how to start small, with 10,000 steps a day.

One of the many benefits of starting exercise is that it can help you get in shape! In addition to the natural feel-good hormones that are released when working out, looking good can definitely boost your self-confidence and overall well-being. It’s no surprise that many people use the prospect of losing weight as their primary motivation to exercise!

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Ditch the Fitspo Pics

Nowadays, a common method of staying motivated is connecting with the online community and following fitness inspiration bloggers (“fitspo” for short). A quick Instagram search of #fitspo reveals photos of perfectly fit bodies with quotes ranging from

Don’t stop until you like what you see in the mirror.

to

Would you rather be covered with sweat at the gym or clothes at the beach?

While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to fit into a pair of jeans or drop a dress size, it can be incredibly damaging to focus on an idealized body image. Society’s ever-increasing obsession with the lean, tan, and perfectly toned physique is contributing to a trend of body-shaming. It’s not hard to see how someone would feel unmotivated or deterred from working out after being bombarded with photos that make them feel guilty or worthless.

The truth is, people are built differently! And not everyone can have chiseled abs and bulging biceps. These goals are pretty unrealistic and can lead to a lot of emotional unhappiness and distress if they are the only reasons you want to get fit. Progress takes time and you have to be in it for the long haul if you really want results!

Better Ways to Stick with Fitness

It’s much more productive (and fun!) to focus on other reasons to want to get moving! Here are some things to keep in mind when starting or maintaining a fitness routine.

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💪 Make Fitness Great Again

If you really hate running, don’t do it. Do something that makes you happy and enriches your life. Meet up with friends to go for a walk, play doubles tennis, go ice skating, play golf, etc. Check out that pilates or hot yoga class you’ve been wanting to try.

💪 Don’t compare yourself to anyone else

This can be incredibly hard, especially when looking for a community of people who are also committed to fitness. Remember, everyone is on their own journey and you don’t need to beat anyone to improve your health and happiness!

💪 Set challenges and goals that don’t relate to your appearance

Instead of trying to lose a certain number of pounds, why not try to run a race or be able to get to the gym a certain number of days a week?

💪 Work with your body, not against it

Love yourself as you are! You’re trying your best, and you will reach your goals. You’ll be less stressed if you embrace who you are right now and strive to be a healthier, stronger version of yourself!

💪 Be Kind

Especially to yourself! Everyone has days where they feel just too tired to work out. Give yourself a break. The important thing is to try again the next day. It’s a journey, not a destination!

If you use fitness as a source of happiness and joy in your life, you will find it’s much easier to stick to!

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12 Days of Our Diabadass Family! 🎉

Happy 12 Days of Awesomeness!

We’ve just enjoyed 12 Days of YOU, our One Drop family, being an absolute diabadass. We are so thankful for the many people we have in our badass diabetes family. All of us are warriors, all of us are fighting this battle daily. And we are crushing it! 💪

Not only that, but we’re doing it together. It truly is remarkable and wonderful for all of us to be sharing our experiences, our highs, our lows, our unicorns, our workarounds, our secret fixes. Whatever it may be, good or bad, we know that we are doing this diabetes thing together. Which makes it totally badass. Totally DiaBadAss.

A #12DaysOfDiabadass Recap

The best part of our 12 days of Diabadass? Being able to feature some of the amazing people that make up our One Drop family:

 

But those are just a few! There are so many of you out there that are kicking diabetes butt. And you should know, we’re doing it right there with you. We’ve got you’re back. And we’re so pumped to have you in our diabadass family, doing it together!

Who won?!

And now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for — our #12DaysOfDiabadass winners! Drumroll, please. 🥁

The winners of unlimited test strips for 2018 (plus unlimited coaching, and a Chrome meter) are 🏆

  1. Dianna
  2. Justin
  3. Randy
  4. Jen
  5. Stew

Thank you to everyone who played, and be on the lookout for more contests, discounts, giveaways and the like in our email blasts. Happy New Year, One Drop family! Welcome to 2018.

 

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11th Day of Diabadass: Meet Manny Cota

Manny Cota - 12 Days of Diabadass

On the 11th Day of Diabadass

Say hello to Manny Cota! Manny joined One Drop in February 2017, and has been going strong ever since 💪

Everything you need to know about Manny Cota

Here’s your need-to-know background info: Born and raised in California & Arizona, Manny loves baseball. L.A. Dodgers is his team. For life. 🤘 All other sports and teams are merely secondary. His favorite, in-a-perfect world delicacy? Pastries! (Can’t say we disagree) And during his weekly cheat-meal, you’ll more often than not find him eating a couple of slices of pizza.


So, what’s Manny’s deal with diabetes?

Manny’s been doing the type 2 diabetes dance since 2013(ish). He was terrified upon diagnosis. But, after attending a few classes over a 7-week period, Manny felt more informed and encouraged about the future of his diabetes management. For a while, he was crushing the BG-checking game.

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But, admittedly, he stepped away from it after a while. It wasn’t until Manny started physically feeling the aches & pains from neglecting his diabetes that he decided to make drastic changes. Since changing up his dietary strategy, picking up a gym habit, and joining One Drop, Manny’s been able to get his A1c back on track. In fact, he went all the way from a 10.8 to a 6.1! In his own words:

“I’ve been a Member since March 5th 2017. I feel grateful to be part of a community where you have support 24/7. Plus it’s easy to use on tracking your meals and activities. I did make the right choice to join the One Drop community. With their application and with the support from my personal diabetes specialist I have been able to bring my A1C to a 6.1.”


What’s his secret?

Beyond his One Drop | Expert, Manny attributes his diabadass success to the gym. Without fail, Manny goes to the gym every morning at 4am, for two hours worth of exercise. Not only that, but Manny also makes time for the important things: his family and his DJ side-job. This guy is constantly on-the-go, but that doesn’t stop him from doing what he loves, being with who he loves, and taking time every day to manage his diabetes. Manny Cota is truly a diabadass. For all the Manny inspo, check out his video below! 👇

10th Day of Diabadass: Meet Emily Davis

Hey, Emily! 👋 What’s your story?

Emily has been doing the type 1 diabetes thing for almost 20 years. On top of that, at the age of 18, she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. She’d been successfully managing her diabetes for a while, but it was her RA diagnosis that was life-altering. Emily was handed a prescription for weekly chemotherapy and told to take Vicodin as needed. After a month of this treatment plan, Emily quickly realized she was not truly living anymore, and her illnesses had completely taken over her life.

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Months of her own research resulted in a complete lifestyle overhaul, which lead to a life free of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Emily life’s mission is to help others like her realize that a diagnosis is not a death sentence, but a chance to become your happiest and healthiest self.


How is she doing that?

Emily founded Chronically Healthy: an online community of people with invisible illnesses (like diabetes, celiac disease, PCOS, chronic pain). Not only is it a support system, but also a place where Emily offers counseling and guidance through personal programs & training. Not only that, but Emily also offers tons of insight & information on her blog. This post is a particular fave of ours. She also has great recipes & features of other diabadass ladies on the blog, so be sure to explore it all!

Emily also offers support, advice, and awesome nuggets of knowledge on Instagram & YouTube. Her light & positivity are super empowering & inspirational. This female entrepreneur is a total top-notch diabadass!

9th Day of Diabadass: Meet Bryan Rodriguez

The Bryan Rodriguez Story

Bryan was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in August of 2017, just 3 days before his 39th birthday. He was admitted to the ICU with an A1C of 13, a diabetic foot ulcer, DKA, Sepsis, and osteomyelitis on his left big toe (which had to be partially amputated due to the severe infection that was in the bone already). None of this stopped Bryan. Instead, he decided to go full-throttle.

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When he was released from the hospital seven days later, he did his own internet scouring & sleuthing, and found One Drop. The unlimited test strips option was exactly what he was looking for. Since then, Bryan has been crushing his #bgnow game, and sharing his journey with the OneDrop community as a One Drop Ambassador.


Bryan, Beyond Diabadass

Beyond his diabadass status in the One Drop community, Bryan photographs weddings in his hometown Miami, FL. He’s been crashing weddings with his wife, Nat, since 2008, when they first started NB (Nat&Bryan) Weddings! Hundreds of couples have invited them to document their special day over the course of the last 10 years. Bryan and Nat also welcomed their son, Ethan, in 2010, turning the photography duo into the Three Muskateers. Dad, husband, and world-class photographer, Bryan does it all while reaching diabadass beast mode.

8th Day of Diabadass: Meet Ginger Vieira

12 Days of Diabadass

Meet Ginger

Ginger has lived with type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease since 1999.

We discovered Ginger’s love for One Drop through her awesome review in Diabetes Daily and her frequent shoutouts on Twitter (@GingerVieira)! On top of being an incredible diabetes advocate and very vocal member of the DOC, Ginger has authored 5 diabetes guidebooks, all available on Amazon.

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Ginger’s most recent book is Pregnancy with Type 1 Diabetes: Your Month-to-Month Guide to Blood Sugar Management, and we highly recommend it to anyone thinking about pregnancy or currently pregnant with diabetes. Ginger provides her tried and true tips for a successful pregnancy with T1D, and she’s got proof that her strategies work: two adorable kiddos of her own! 

Ginger Vieira - 12 Days of Diabadass

What else makes Ginger a diabadass?

I’m glad you asked. As if all the above weren’t impressive enough: Ginger is an award-winning competitive powerlifter! In 2009 & 2010, Ginger set 15 records in drug-tested powerlifting with a 308 lb. deadlift, a 265 lb. squat, and a 190 lb. bench press.

Ginger Powerlift - 12 Days of Diabadass

How can I keep up with Ginger?

Today, you can find Ginger’s work regularly at HealthCentral, DiabetesDaily, InsulinNation, and other online publications. She’s also very active on Twitter under the handle @GingerVieira.

7th Day of Diabadass: Meet Rob Howe

Meet Rob

You may know this Type-1 diabadass as the founder of Diabetics Doing Things — a podcast highlighting the amazing things people with diabetes accomplish on a daily basis.

“More often than not, people think T1D is this debilitating disease that takes away your hopes, dreams, and future. So I found myself thinking that someone should be telling the stories of the things people with Type 1 are doing outside of their diabetes.” – Rob Howe (DCH Interview, July 2016)

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Diabetics Doing Things

Rob was diagnosed on January 1, 2005 at the age of 16. Diabetics Doing Things was inspired by the excellent care and encouragement he received from the endocrine staff at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. Rob hopes the stories told on Diabetics Doing Things simultaneously educate the general public and inspire those in our diabetes community to accomplish the goals they’ve set for themselves. Today, the DDT podcast has over 1,000 years of living with T1D and is approaching 100 episodes.

What Makes Rob so diabadass?

 After his diagnosis, Rob went on to graduate Valedictorian of his high school class. He attended the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs on a full basketball scholarship, and graduated with honors + a BS in Business. Following a marketing position for Team USA Boxing, Rob accepted a position on the Washington Generals professional basketball team for their 2012-13 season. He now acts as the co-founder and managing partner of Recreation Dallas and performs improv comedy at Dallas Comedy House in his free time. Not only that, he just recently launched his very own DDT-inspired hoodie! Athletic, passionate, funny and fashionable!? Rob is doing things… diabadass things.

FUN FACTS:

  • Rob lives with his cat, Michael J. Fox 😸
  • Rob roots for the Miami Heat 🔥
  • Rob recently [basically] became the face of Medtronic’s 670g pump campaign (#strikeapose)

Want to know more? Follow Rob on Instagram and Twitter.

6th Day of Diabadass: Meet Abgr Xenda

12 Days of Diabadass

Abgr Xenda, aka Superman

One Drop ambassador Abgr Xenda is our very own Clark Kent. By day, Abgr is a successful account and application developer at Xenda Group. After hours, he is an award-winning triathlete. And when we say award-winning and triathlete, we mean award-winning. And triathlete. 🏆 But more on that later.

How’d he become a diabadass?

Diagnosed in 2011 with T1D, Abgr dealt with some extreme diabetes-related hospital visits over the next 4 years. But in January 2016, he found the low-carb diet. He studied it and applied it immediately, and has since cut out all grains and high glycemic index foods.

So what’s his go-to meal secret? The answer, in Abgr’s own words, is “protein, and protein only.” Standard meals include anything with eggs, meat, chicken, and fish, along with zucchini, eggplant, spinach, cauliflower, and broccoli, which meet his daily minimum of 10g of carbs.

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Triathlete superpowers

In January 2017, as Abgr likes to explain it, he “decided to return to the sport life again.” Meaning, casually picking up triathlons. No big deal.

Over the past year, this T1D powerhouse won the championship of Misr for long distance (3K Steeplechase, 5K, 10K, and Decathlon) and continues to impress us with his athletic achievements. Most recently, Abgr ran and swam his way to victory — taking third place at the Al Corniche Club Aquathlon event.. all while rocking killer One Drop gear 😎

So how does this diabadass maintain such perfect (and we mean PERFECT) blood sugars during a triathlon? Dates. Abgr explains, “It is small in size, can be held in my running outfit, and one date can do miracles, as one date will increase my BG by 20mg/dl.” The secret is in the date-sauce.

We love keeping up with Abgr on Instagram and Twitter. He’s constantly sharing educational articles, health and wellness tips, and gives us insight into how diet and exercise affect his numbers. This diabadass inspires us to stay active, eat intelligently, and check those sugars using One Drop | Chrome!