The Emotions of It All

Acknowledging and managing the emotions of diabetes.

Scott K. JohnsonBy Scott Johnson

January 2008 — For me, diabetes is as much – maybe more so - of an emotional thing as it is physical.

I often make the mistake of trying to "man up" and snuff out or ignore the emotional aspects of my diabetes management. They are a world of conflict for me. I'm supposed to feel invincible and responsible, a strong young man who can withstand much of whatever is thrown at me.

Yet diabetes often makes me feel more vulnerable, more alone, more misunderstood, and more irresponsible than I thought possible.

I get myself wrapped up in the angry confusion that surrounds a high blood sugar, or badly timed low blood sugar. I get frustrated and rebellious when faced with a meal or food where the number of carbohydrate grams is hard to estimate.

I sometimes go to an appointment with a "specialist" and leave there feeling more confused and misguided than when I first arrived. I struggle. How can I do this all by myself? If this specialist isn't helping, then who will?

I ask myself "How long can this go on," or "How long can this storm last?" And with diabetes, it can be a really, really long time. It is enough to make me hang my head and really struggle to figure out just how to keep going. How can I will myself to push through and keep putting one foot in front of the other? I have to, somehow, or I will be sucked into the abyss of negativity and depression, and that will kill me.

Maybe it is not the right thing to do, to write off those emotions as unimportant?

Maybe it would be better to spend some time exploring what those emotions are all about. Can I work through my emotions and come to some healthy point where I acknowledge them and give them a little space to breath?

Emotions cannot be smothered out, or they will fight with tooth and nail for that last breath. With a panicked desperation and stubborn refusal to be cut off and denied, they summon up more strength than ever and threaten to bowl you over.

I think that these emotions need to be explored and understood. Diabetes IS a difficult thing to manage well all of the time. I need to acknowledge the anger and rebellion, the confusion and uncertainty, the grief and loss.

It is not a given that once I arrive at some sort of acceptance I will stay there. Acceptance goes in cycles. But I think that working through the emotions might be a healthier approach than trying to ignore them.

Maybe it could lead to some sort of deeper understanding of why the emotions exist and what triggers them. Better yet, it could lead to some channels for me to work through my emotions and allow me to spend more time on the "good end" of the spectrum.

Self-inspection is very difficult, but I think it is necessary to get to the bottom of some things that are causing me a lot of trouble. Being able to find resolution sounds like a good thing to me.

Visit Scott's blog.


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.


Last Modified Date: June 11, 2013

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