Diabetes and Self-Blame

Amylia Grace Yeaman Health Guide
  • Allow me to get all Oprah and Dr. Phil on you for a moment. I had an "a-ha" moment today while watching Dr. Phil. He was speaking about blame and made it crystal clear that Blame implies intent and that in the absence of the intention to do something, there is no need to blame yourself (or another). Blaming yourself is unhealthy and unnecessary. A better choice? To me, it's all about claiming a healthy responsibility for one's actions without self-blame--to develop a curiosity about one's choices, behaviors and subsequent results instead of staying hooked on blame.  It's always in this way--through a curious wonder and the willingness to claim my part of responsibility for things that the insightful and necessary deeper realizations have gently come to me.

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    How does this relate to diabetes?


    I'm sure you can find the link, but for me, I've spent far too much time blaming myself for things that are out of my control. With diabetes, it's a slippery slope. There's a fine line between feeling empowered to change things--stepping up to the plate and admitting that yes, I could be making better choices when it comes to diet and exercise and perhaps my bolus for that meal was off, and falling into the blame game. While it's true I control what goes into my mouth and how much I move my body and how much insulin I program into my pump, it is not true that these things alone contribute to my results. There is not always a clear link between how many units of insulin I program, what I eat, how much I exercise and what my bloodsugar numbers are. And I could do the exact same thing one day and receive quite different results the next. So for me, I try to remind myself that I never intend to harm myself or take too much insulin nor do I intend to have hypo/hyperglycemia or any host of down-the-line complications, and that helps me, to an extent, avoid the blame game.


    But with diabetes, the game is constant. I'm not perfect and I'm not a perfectionist, so there are always going to be things I could be doing better, and on some level I'm always going to know that yes, I have made poor choices at times that have given me poor results. And there are times when I do my absolute best and still get crap results. Or times when I don't make the best choices and still get great results. So what gives?


    All I know is this:  it's so hard not to blame myself, even knowing I'm doing my best and that "my best" changes depending on where I'm at. I'm coming out of a period of major depression right now, and so my best today means getting up and not eating breakfast, testing and trying to stay in range knowing full well I'm not going to get my daily dose of vegetables, water and exercise, that I'll probably have two slices of pizza for dinner because it's all I've got in the house besides eggs, rye bread and a quarter gallon of skim milk. And that isn't the best choice, but right now, it's all I've got. Without a job and a source of income, my groceries have become less than ideal.


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    But the bottom line is this:  I need to stop beating myself up for it. I really am doing the best I can for where I'm at right now. I'm not trying to let myself off the hook, but anyone whose been through a major depression knows how debilitating it can be--and while I know what I should be doing, some days I just can't seem to get there. Funny thing is, I keep thinking I wish I could go get my A1C drawn now because I'm sure it'll be under seven, which it hasn't been in a while. Which just proves that the A1C is not the benchmark of great diabetes care. I've gained weight and stopped exercising, am on more insulin that I should be and having more lows than ever, and yet, my A1C is probably quite good. It's like I want some kind of validation that I'm at least doing something right---testing 5-10 times a day, going to the doctor, correcting when high/low and yet, I know it'd come as a hollow victory because the truth is I am not in ultimate health nor am I where I want to be and I know that I'm the only one that can change that.


    Writing about it is a start. It feels good to "out myself" about this burden of blame and depression I've been carrying around with me these past few months (which is part of the reason you've seen so little of me lately). Yes, I'm coming out of it and the veil is lifting, but change doesn't usually happen overnight and so I remind myself to take it one step at a time and stop the blame game because that game just makes me feel worse, and no good can come from that. The new question I've just started to ask myself with every thought or choice is simply this:


    "Is this going to make me feel good?"

    And if the answer is yes, this is going to make me feel good (not just on a superficial level like eating pancakes on Fat Tuesday would), but a deep down satisfying good feeling--like the feeling after exercise or after getting out in the fresh air on a walk with my mom), then I make myself do it, even if I don't feel like it--which is a hard thing to do for most of us, but especially when going through a depression. But I'm doing it--one choice at a time.

    What do you guys do when you start to play the Blame Game? Or how do you help lift yourself out of a depression or feeling bad about yourself? (BTW, I am on an anti-depressant which is a great help and have a wonderful therapist, so that's covered--I'm talking little daily nuggets of wisdom to get through the rough spots).

    Please leave your thoughts or feedback in the comments section. Thank you!

Published On: December 03, 2009