One of the reasons that depression so often follows diabetes, I believe, is that diabetes constantly invites us to see ourselves as having made a mistake. PWDs can be caused problems by factors entirely beyond our control or which couldn't have been anticipated. Highs or lows can also result from simple mistakes, the kinds of mistakes everyone makes. Even if we're secure enough to not judge ourselves for those times, and not all of us always are, the people around us and even our physicians may not be so wise. And, sometimes, we make choices that might have been wiser.
A few weeks ago, I had lab results that were MUCH better than what I had expected. I've thought a lot about what could have created such a huge gap between my perception of how I'd been doing and the reality. Clearly, much of the answer relates to how well my medicines work for me. But I think I also constantly measure myself against a vision of PERFECT diabetes management, thus only allowing myself to see "mistakes" without taking credit for the better choices.
Consider the following sequence of statements:
- A healthy diet has room for an occasional treat.
- A healthy diet has room for ONLY an occasional treat.
- A healthy diet is better off without any treats at all.
- I shouldn't have the candy bar I want, because it's not part of a healthy diet.
- I shouldn't have eaten that candy bar: that was a bad choice.
- I had a candy bar yesterday, too. I frequently make bad diet choices.
- I take poor care of my health and my diabetes.
- I am a bad diebetic.
Take another look at #5. In my mind, anyway, that's where a key change occurs. My choice to eat the candy bar has changed from a choice about nutritional balance to a moral choice. In other words, I'm not a person who made a non-optimal choice, I'm (in my mind) a bad person.
This is obviously not the way for a diabetic to maintain a healthy attitude. But it's what I do, all too often, and from what I see in the forums and on Twitter, I bet I'm not the only one.
A healthy lifestyle is about balance, and a healthy lifestyle with diabetes that much more so. I need to learn to more consistently SEE it as a balance rather than as an unending series of challenges to my adequacy as a person.
Many of us seem to see our encounters with our care team along these lines. We don't just go to get information and guidance: we go to get approval. And, all to often, members of our care team encourage this attitude by granting or withholding approval. No wonder we hate our appointments -- we're not going to the doctor, we're going on trial! I confess: part of what I was so thrilled about at my appointment was that I felt my doctor's approval. That's fine, as far as it goes, but what if the approval had not come? It would be healthier not to grant my doctor that much power over my attitude.
Like everything else, it's a progress. But I'm gonna work on living higher up on my list.
How about you? Are you able to separate your sense of worth from the ups and downs of life with diabetes?