Friday, May 8, 2020

My Continuing Mental Health Water Voyage

As we mark Mental Health Month in May, I thought it'd be a good time to revisit some of my past writings on this topic as it pertains to diabetes and mental health.

For me, the struggles were most pronounced in 2011-2013. Here is what I wrote on it at the time:

I was like a ship in the darkened night-time waters trying to find my way to shore. The light house wasn't easy to find, but I knew it was there. The choppy waters of depression and diabetes and life stresses were all crashing against me, slowing down my journey and pushing me even further off course.

But a fellow Person With Diabetes (PWD) who happened to be a therapist helped me conquer those waters. I actually dubbed her "Mind Ninja" because of her nimble "ninja skills" to get into into my psyche. Mind Ninja became my navigational guide, allowing me to talk openly about how I really felt and the fears I had, while encouraging me to interact with people and confront my feelings. She prompted me to retrain my brain to replace negative thinking with positive thoughts, and move forward one day at a time. She emphasized that I should not view sharing my story or taking meds as weaknesses, but necessary steps forward.

With her help, I was able to find that beacon to help me reach the calm mental "shoreline" where I needed to be.

For the most part since then, I've been safely anchored to shore, with moments of storm weather where medication has helped keep me afloat in particular choppy waters.

Over the years, it feels as though I've been on the same voyage with varying degrees of water-roughness. I may have swapped ships a couple times, especially navigating a move between states, but generally I am still afloat and navigating this water journey.

Even now, when it feels we're treading water during a pandemic and public health crisis. Every day can feel overwhelming and at times more recently, I have been feeling like I'm on the verge of going underwater. Finding balance is a key, and it's so important to step away from the world's weight and my own mental mess to focus on some good — in whatever healthy ways I can find them.

The toughest part, in the beginning, was seeking help. I'd kept telling myself: "No, I'm not depressed. I just need to deal. This isn't anything I can't manage on my own. If I can't, then I must be weak and ill-equipped to simply handle my own life!"

But through hearing the stories of several others in the DOC, I was able to see that it wasn't a weakness to share these personal struggles... these emotional and mental hurdles that I wasn't able to deal with on my own. These people opened my eyes.

And I hope that other PWDs who need it most can find that strength and courage now, to reach out if they are feeling down in the depths.

There's nothing wrong with that, nothing to be ashamed of.

Since starting to work in the professional diabetes writing space almost a decade ago, I've also had to pay special attention to gradually weaning myself off of being connected online all the time. Personal and professional diabetes advocacy take up most of my time, and I realize that I do need to draw a line between my personal and professional lives in order to avoid being overwhelmed.

Really, we can't do it ourselves all the time and often we need some friends to help shoulder a burden -- or a good therapist who really "gets" what you're going through. The first step is knowing that it's OK to not have to carry our burdens all by ourselves...

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Welcome to the End of the World?

Well, did anyone think this is what 2020 would look like?

Global pandemic and worldwide public health emergency, everything shutting down and a potential economic collapse on the horizon.

Holy fuck.
'
A "Pandemic (in Quarantine) Playlist on my Spotify is now a thing, and my own remote worklife now in its 8th year has taken on an eeerie new spin. As are my watchlists full of dystopian and post-apocalyptic TVs and movies for streaming in these strange times.

All of my work travel and conferences for the spring have been nixed, and we're all watching closely to see what the impact may be for summer events.

What about my "underlying health condition" that is type 1 diabetes?

So far, so good. No signs of anything astray. As I've shared over on DiabetesMine, I have been using the Tandem t:slim X2 device since mid-October 2019. That followed three-and-a-half years of Multiple Daily Dosing with pens and Afrezza inhaled insulin insulin. I started off with Basal-IQ and then in mid-January transitioned to the spectacular Control-IQ feature. This is only a trial run for product review purposes, and I'm still determining whether I will be able to buy and access this technology for my own use going forward... but given the state of affairs, I've been given the OK to keep using this loaner CIQ for the time being.

We'll see where we go from here.

Of course, with the pandemic fears everywhere you turn, I'm a bit nervous and anxious. Any spike in blood sugars are getting more attention and I'm not as quick to shrug them off. Our house is stocked full of hand soap (WASH YOUR HANDS!) and hand sanitizer and we're taking all the recommended precautions... as well as staying home as much as possible.

There was a common cold in the house a few weeks ago, but that was closely monitored at every stage and it's since passed without escalating to anything of concern.

Still, as everything evolves by the hour and day, it all raises the anxiety level.

Every sneeze and throat tickle raises my worry-level. But it's important to remember that sometimes, a sneeze is just a sneeze. Sometimes Michigan cold weather leads to throat fussiness. I am checking my temperature daily just in case. No signs of anything outside the norm, as that's concerned.

Doing our best to not panic and stay calm, and we're certainly not on the page as some seem to be with hoarding and stockpiling everything. Still, we did replenish our food and necessary items ahead of time just in case.

And as to meds and supplies?

Yes, I am being cautious and prepared on that, too. Making sure my insulin and supplies are all filled for at least the next few months, and have also managed to get backup insulin syringes on hand in case anything goes very sideways for the future.

In the supply container that slides underneath the bed, I was also amazed to find a couple boxes of older syringes filled about 5 years ago just before our move from Indiana back to Michigan... do syringes actually expire? I thought about tossing them as medical waste, but hesitated and flashed to scenes of The Walking Dead in my mind. So I opted to set them aside and keep, in the event of an apocalypse or something.

This whole ordeal has also motivated me to actually change my lancet for fingersticks after each use, which is a HOLY WHOA kind of moment in itself. That huge backup of never-used lancets is looking quite interesting these days. As are alcohol swipes, not only for actually wiping my fingers before each fingerstick but also for general sanitary use to stop spreading germs.

Amazing times, indeed.

I'm trying to keep everything balanced for the sake of mental health, but this is all pretty intense.

OK, this is stream of consciousness post is coming to an end... back to CNN and my Pandemic Playlist.

Be safe, calm and healthy, Friends.