A Tough Summer
Steps To Stop Stress
August 2013 — It's been a rather painful summer around our house. A father-in-law's unexpected accidental death, a son's sudden clinical depression and a subsequently missed 30th wedding anniversary trip to Eastern Europe have made for some unusually high sugar readings. All of which has had me thinking about stress and diabetes.
Everyone knows there is a connection. In part, the rise is due to a cortisol uptick in people with type 2 diabetes that can help to drive up glucose levels. But for me, anxious times also lead to stress eating. The more frayed my nerves become, the quicker I dive for the potato chips and raspberry truffle ice cream.
My son's depression hit first. As someone who also suffers with depression, I had prayed that this disabling disease wouldn't plague my children. The good news is that because of all I have gone through, I knew precisely how to deal with it, and thanks to medication and therapy, he is getting better.
But close on the heels of my son's moving into a better mental space, my beloved father-in-law died. Following his memorial service, his funeral reception was held at our house, which meant that foods that are never allowed past my front or back door have been arriving daily. Bakery blueberry tarts, homemade peach tarts and caramel apple walnut pie, to name but a few.
I tell myself that I'll only have "one bite" but that single bite has led to two, three and eventually a full piece. Not to mention the refrigerator stacked with gift platters of high fat roast and corned beef, plus potato salad and coleslaw. For the day of the reception I ordered reasonably healthy nibbles. Yet who reaches for whole wheat wrapped roasted vegetables when oily Dan Dan noodles are in the house?
One life lesson: Comfort food is called that for a reason.
The irony in my rising sugars is that although he was rail thin and exercised on his bike into his eighties, my father-in-law also had type 2 diabetes. As a person with diabetes, he took better care of himself than anyone I've ever met – writing down every bite he ingested, monitoring his sugars seven and eight times a day, reading up on the latest diabetic prescriptions. He was constantly after me, asking questions about how I dealt with my care and my Bydureon injections. He envied my good A1C readings, wanting to know how I'd managed to stay in the low sixes and high fives.
In my experience, once it's started, a stress binge is hard to stop. But perhaps the best way to honor my father-in-law's memory and my son's success is to take back diabetic control.
Luckily, there are many ways to do this. Taking a walk, finding time to meditate, exercising. Although the trip to my weight lifting class is more difficult than rolling off the couch to fetch another slice of coffee cake, I know that with the knowledge that all good and bad things must come to an end, come Monday, I'll be back on the program.
For my father-in-law, my son, my family and myself.
MORE ON THIS TOPIC: Stress Busters
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
Teriyaki Strips English Muffin Melt Roasted Red Pepper and Cheese Dip Hamburger Dip Fish and Sweet Potato Soup Turmeric Rice Grilled Tuna and Pineapple Shish-KaBobs Sweet Grilled Meatloaf Boneless Buffalo Chicken Salad Vanilla Sauce
Many people say that depression is a side effect or complication of diabetes. Without discounting the association of the psychological condition with the physical one, I'm not convinced that our high and/or unstable glucose levels are directly responsible for that change in our mental state. My belief is that the unrelenting need for self-care, for following the sort of care schedules that can drive licensed, professional caregivers crazy, is what overwhelms us...