It’s easy to look at a person with diabetes whose blood sugars are running up around 300 mg/dL and say, “Geez, you need to just stop neglecting yourself!”
It's easy to judge, to think, "C'mon, just do it! Just take your insulin and take care of it all!"
But the real question is, “By neglecting your diabetes and purposefully hurting your body, what is that doing for you?"
It must be doing something beneficial…otherwise you wouldn’t keep doing it. Even though cigarettes are obviously harmful, people still smoke them because it feels good, it provides an obvious benefit.
Even if the benefit is small in comparison to the damage your body is suffering, purposefully neglecting your diabetes may be your method of coping with the overwhelming emotions around diabetes.
The next question is: Do you want to challenge those emotions and find your new way of living with this disease? Are you ready to work towards finding a healthy way of getting that same benefit?
From the outside, diabetes appears slightly complex but straightforward: take your insulin, check your blood sugar, count your carbohydrates, and carry on with your day.
But diabetes, like many other challenges in life, can have a way of twisting itself throughout every single part of our life and our emotions. It isn’t straightforward; it’s incredibly complex, and the immense challenge of taking care of diabetes every day can play a variety of games in our heads.
Some of those games have side effects that seem fairly harmless. I know diabetes has definitely increased my own personal desire to be in control of situations and schedules, because I’m so used to always trying to be in control of my blood sugar. Because of diabetes, I like to be in control.
I also know it places a significant emphasis on my health. To me, exercising every day isn’t just about trying to feel “fit”…it’s about trying to keep my blood vessels strong, my eyes healthy, my kidneys functioning. I exercise so I can live longer and prevent complications.
Some of those games, though, can become very self-destructive. They actually hurt us further, but it is often a method of coping, of expressing the anger of having to live with this disease we didn’t choose, or a method of saying, “I’m overwhelmed! I’m scared. I can’t do this.”
Food is another part of managing diabetes that becomes incredibly twisted in our emotions. Food is never just food when you live with diabetes. Food is the enemy. Food is the hero. Food is the hardest part of the balancing act.
It’s only normal that all of that will impact how you feel about food, think about food, and how you use food in your life.
How do you use food?
Do you ever use food to ease emotions? Distract yourself from emotions? Comfort pain? Or even to purposefully mess with your entire diabetes management program, raise your blood sugars, and hurt your body?
Yes, purposefully using food to hurt your body because of your diabetes. It’s not uncommon, but we don’t really talk about it out loud. This is one of many of the games diabetes can play in our heads, and it’s a serious issue. One that you can conquer with the right tools. First, you’ve got to acknowledge that it’s there, and you don’t like it!
The details of these head games are of course very personal and change from person to person, but the fact is that diabetes can become much more than just a disease we have to manage. It can become a disease that changes our self-esteem, our progress in goals that seem to have nothing to do with diabetes, and it can change the way we respect our own body.
You are a work in progress. Don't stay where you are -- just as it took time to develop the habits you have today, it will take time and a process to develop new ones!
Ginger Vieira is a cognitive coach at www.Living-in-Progress.com. She offers 30-minute FREE coaching experience calls allowing you to experience how this brain-based method of coaching works. E-mail Ginger at Ginger@living-in-progress.com for more information and scheduling.
Published On: September 20, 2010