7 Tips for Supporting an Anxious Person with Type 1
A guide for how best to support those with both diabetes and mental health issues, by someone who deals with both.
A few months before I graduated college, I was diagnosed with ADHD, Generalized Anxiety, and OCD. Now that I’m taking medicine for ADHD, which also helps with my anxiety, I realize the impact my mental health has on my diabetes. When I notice triggers that affect both, I try to work on them.
Here are 7 things I’d love for other people to keep in mind regarding diabetes and mental health, based on my experience:
1. Please let me explain why I don’t love my CGM
It’s complicated. Being able to catch patterns and see my blood sugar during exercise is great, but seeing my number every five minutes increases my anxiety. I didn’t get a CGM for a long time because I knew it would stress me out. I’m also staying away from linking it to my phone; I don’t see that going well for me.
2. Please don’t tell me that repeatedly checking my blood sugar won’t help
Yes, I know that 20 minutes won’t make a difference, but I’m going to recheck it anyway. The moment I know my blood sugar is above target, I have to check. I also start to think about the money I’m wasting and then my mind fires off in a million different directions.
3. Please don’t tell me how to feel about a low or high
I start to freak out when I’m low. Lows scare me, especially middle-of-the-night lows. What if I’m alone or where people don’t know me? It’s stressful even without the anxiety. And when my blood sugar is above target, I think the worst: What will it do to my A1C? What if I go into DKA? How is it impacting my life? There are a lot of emotions at play, and it’s hard to bend them to the way you think I should feel.
4. Please don’t mention that commercial you saw about eyes and feet
My diagnosis was caught at an eye exam so I’m afraid enough, thanks. I don’t like thinking about complications because of the extra stress. I acknowledge them, but fear tactics do not help.
5. Please don’t say that diabetes and mental health have nothing to do with each other
Diabetes is a roller coaster. so is mental health. Here I am on both of these rides trying to stabilize them. I don’t know if becoming anxious is a symptom of an out-of-target blood sugar or that my my anxiety gets “worse” when I’m off target. Maybe both? How do I even separate them? Either way, I’m certain that my diabetes and mental health are in a very committed relationship together.
6. Please don’t…
Call me crazy, compulsive, an overachiever, obsessive, or Type A. Just no. One of my primary reasons for being so intensive with my care is because I don’t like my brain when my blood sugar is out of target. Also, I already know these things about myself, so reminding me of them isn’t helping.
7. Please do…
Sit next to me. Support me. Pass me the juice or water if you see the number on my screen, but don’t pass judgement. Know I might react more to things if my mental health and diabetes are in a fight, but I’ll apologize. Let me let my feelings out.
Please remember that I am a person first, but diabetes and mental health are very much a part of my life and always changing.
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