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Stressed? That’s Life!
April 17, 2007
My granddaughter’s bat mitzvah is in less than two weeks. She’s a nervous wreck and is being a drama queen. I’m wondering how I’m going to get everything done for the festivities while taking her to swim team practice three times a week, to an engineering program once a week, and getting my work done.
To top it off, she has to be in one place and her brother in another at about the same time one day, and my husband can’t help out because he’s in New Jersey with his brother (again), who is hospitalized in critical condition. I also need to get my house in some kind of order for out-of-town guests coming in for the bat mitzvah. Today, the kitchen sink stopped up, the garbage disposal spewed malodorous water out of the other sink bowl and all over me, and the plumber isn’t coming until tomorrow.
Diabetes? Who has time for that?
(I’ve had a long-running daydream that everybody in the world—and especially people who tell us what we need to do and when to take care of our diabetes—would get an especially annoying case of it to see what it’s really like. Just for maybe a month, but they wouldn’t know at the time that there was an end to it.)
It’s never surprised me that a sizeable percentage of people with diabetes also are depressed. After all, we’re expected to do the impossible (regulate our own metabolisms) while, at the same time, dealing with whatever life throws at us. We have work, family, and community service obligations. We may have a disability or illness. We’re expected to do what everybody else is supposed to do: eat healthy and exercise regularly. If we’re caught eating something “they” think we’re not supposed to, they ask us stupid questions like “Should you be eating that?” All of those things have the potential to affect our diabetes control.
On top of all that, we’re supposed to do the equivalent of driving a car while sitting in the back seat, maneuvering it with rubber bands attached to the steering wheel. On a winding, mountainous road. At 2 AM on a moonless night.
It’s no wonder we’re depressed. We’re stressed! And stress can contribute to depression.
I grew up in a “suck it up and brave it out” family. Antidepressants were for wienies. Depression was, I suppose, some kind of a character flaw that you just need to “get over.”
And so, as I went through episodes of depression—from a stressful job and life in general, I sucked it up, braved it out, and tried to get over it. That was even before I was diagnosed with diabetes. Afterwards, it just got worse, as I tried to take care of diabetes on top of everything else. At one point, I became pretty much unable to function and had trouble following the plot of a Reader’s Digest article. This from somebody who normally reads two or three books at a time.
Then I met a doctor who explained to me that, just as my body lacks sufficient insulin and I need to supplement what I do have, my brain lacks enough of some chemical whose name escapes me. As long as my stress level remains below a certain level, there’s enough of the chemical to handle things. But as soon as my stress goes over that level, the chemical needs to be supplemented.
That changed my whole attitude about taking antidepressants. Now, I take a low dose of antidepressants all the time. But when my stress level goes up and I find myself unable to cope, I go to my doctor and ask for my dose to be increased. I just did that a couple of weeks ago.
So go ahead: Bring on the bat mitzvahs, the scheduling conflicts, the deadlines, the drama queens, and the malfunctioning plumbing. I can take it. Ah, if only diabetes were that easy to deal with.
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