Stress and Depression
When these conditions became constant companions, it was time to seek help.
May 2012 — On May 16, 2012, I will celebrate six years with type 2 diabetes. I will have a small piece of carrot cake as my way of thumbing my nose, or extending a middle finger, to my most dominate chronic condition. It will be a family affair, in that my wife and three canine daughters ("the girls") will share in the festivities. The girls don't really taste the cake the way Tanya and I do, they just gulp it down and then look for more.
And while I will be marking a milestone in May, I have also created one this past March when I sought help for my depression, one of diabetes's associates. For the past several years, I have experienced short periods of depression, but last year the bouts grew longer. It was in September that I wrote about having periods of stress and depression. The two pretty much came to me hand-in-hand. I even underwent a stress test due to the health problems resulting from these conditions. I have always heard that exercise alleviated stress, but my physical activity (bicycling) did not seem to help.
As 2012 began, stress and depression pretty much became my constant companions. As my depression grew, so did my guilt for experiencing it. In my eyes, I had no reason to be depressed, so it was my fault. Let me back up for a minute. Yes, living with type 2 diabetes (i.e. checking blood sugar, affording and living off of medications, experiencing lows, etc.) can be depressing. However, depression is one sneaky lowlife of a condition that latches on to you like a leech, and not only starts draining the life out of you, but makes you feel guilty and attacks your self-esteem.
I was losing interest in relationships, outside activities, etc. My self-esteem was plummeting. I felt like I was becoming unmotivated, worthless, and useless. I became concerned enough that I sat down with Tanya and told her what I was experiencing and that I needed to talk to someone.
I was fortunate in that I knew of a counselor who I felt I would be comfortable revealing and discussing my condition with. The initial meeting — more like an interview — went so well that we have had four sessions. I have benefited greatly from them and have been reminded that I am lovable, likeable, respectable, and that I "bring a lot to the table" in my relationships. I have also received instructions on how I should be viewing the day-to-day events that occur around me.
My counselor also convinced me to discuss my stress and depression with my general practitioner to determine what medications may be available for treatment. I am now on an anti-depressant and the results have been both encouraging and positive. My counselor also suggested that I inform my family and friends about what I had been experiencing. Their response has been overwhelmingly supportive.
I am feeling better, both emotionally and physically. I look forward to continued improvement, as well as the future, even if it does mean taking another pill each day. What's one more pill? I am also looking forward to celebrating two milestones each spring. Don't two milestones equal two small pieces of carrot cake?
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.
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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...