Defeated! Or hit a bump! What do you do to stay optimistic?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2014-06-21 15:34:26 -0500
Started 2014-06-14 13:01:13 -0500

In my work with individuals who are living with chronic conditions, I don’t think a day passes by when I don’t have a conversation with a client who feels defeated in some way.

Clients may slip up on their self-care routine and be experiencing the consequences. Or they being compliant and still are getting not the results they expected. Or, friends and family haven’t been supportive or made a promise but didn’t come through. Sometimes, what seems like defeat is coming from more than one source, leaving clients feel plain old defeated by life.

Let’s face it, life doesn’t always go the way we thought it would, or should. Nobody knows that better than someone who is living with a chronic condition. And it’s only human nature to feel defeated when life seems especially tough.

Let’s take a look at that word “defeat.” How about if we changed “defeat” into “lesson?” Here’s a link to an article I wrote awhile back:

I’d love to hear how you cope during those times when it feels like you can’t quite do the right thing, no matter how hard you try. What’s your reply to that voice that whispers that your opponents are ganging up on you? How do you stay optimistic?

Any advice to share? Need some support?

51 replies

Vhm 2014-06-18 19:26:08 -0500 Report

I just recall the first words said to me by me endo when he walked into the room: "There is no cosmic justice. Life isn't fair." No, it is not. But we all do our best.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-19 22:16:02 -0500 Report

Hi Vhm, thanks for sharing that story with us. Yes, life isn't fair. But doing your best is doing a lot. Gary

Stuart1966 2014-06-16 09:35:03 -0500 Report

As a martial artist… my opponents are often "many". There is NO RULE that we must "win". At times it is entirely possible to do absolutely nothing wrong, and yet to still fail anyway. Win or loose but fight.

The author Robert Jordan had a phrase which applied to our arena(s)…

"Only surrender AFTER you die…"

It is a very good saying.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-17 14:54:22 -0500 Report

HI Stuart,

Thanks for sharing this. I think that martial arts has a lot to teach us about living in the world. That is a good saying, I agree. Keep on going, one foot before the other.


GabbyPA 2014-06-15 09:41:31 -0500 Report

I have learned lots of "lessons" from my defeats. I am not that great when I am in one. I kind of have to hit a point of complete frustration that catapults me into action. I don't know why I am that way, but it seems I don't focus well on one thing for long periods of time.

I will tell you though, when I reach that point I come out fighting, and that always feels good. I have a weird visual that I keep in my head to help pull me up...from the Sorcerers Apprentices in Fantasia. When Micky is on the cliff calling up the waves and controlling the skies....that is my power visual that keeps me going.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-17 14:51:25 -0500 Report

Hey Gabby,

Nice to hear from you. Thanks for chiming in!

That is a great visual image. I think we often have to reach a point where we decide what we are doing just isn't working, and that we may as well it's time to take a step back, look at the situation objectively, and figure out what our options are. Once you see a new direction to go in, you can mobilize and take action. I think it takes whatever time it takes to get to that point. But you're doing it!

I'm gonna have to see Fantasia again. It's been a LONG time.


RebDee 2014-06-15 06:26:47 -0500 Report

I have always believed that when a door closes a window opens for you. Meaning that your path may take a turn in the road but you must keep on truckin'. Lately, while my blood sugar has gotten lower due to my diet, I have experienced many outside incidents to bring me to my knees but I know that there is a silver lining somewhere if only I look for it.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-17 14:40:30 -0500 Report

Hi RebDee,

That is a really great attitude. I use that same expression, and probably say it to someone about every week. I also agree that we can look at disappointment as an opportunity for change and growth. I think that resilient, optimistic people find a way to open those windows, by staying focused on what's possible.

Great to hear from you!


camerashy 2014-06-14 20:07:21 -0500 Report

I'm optimistic to a fault. Any day I wake up is a good day. Sure, I've had down days - after all, I'm bipolar. But my ADHD keeps me from spending too much time on any subject, and that includes finger-pricking. Sometimes I completely forget that I'm diabetic. Now THAT's optimism. (By the way, I've lost 3 pounds the past week)

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-16 10:57:44 -0500 Report

Hey camerashy,

Nice to see you! Hope you are staying on the self-care path. Just don't let that optimism turn into forgetting to take good care of yourself. Thanks for checking in. And congratulations on losing 3 pounds!


Katiespace 2014-06-14 19:01:38 -0500 Report

I am bipolar as well as type 2 diabetic and sometimes it feels like I can't go on but I love my kids and Grandkids to much to not go on.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-16 10:55:33 -0500 Report

Hey Katie, nice to meet you! There is a lot to be said for having family support when you are facing challenges in life. Thanks for checking in! Gary

haoleboy 2014-06-14 18:58:33 -0500 Report

I had been a reasonably optimistic person my whole life. People used to call me "happy go lucky". My optimistic, happy go lucky attitude was not helping me in my recovery from my stroke and I've found that realism and dogged determination have carried the day.

I have good days and I have bad days (today being one of the latter) and find that if I take a few minutes out of my day to refocus on my health/life priorities I seem to do "better".

I also start each morning (before getting out of bed) resetting, as it were, my attitude and focus and in serene contemplation (meditation).

So far this is working for me … at least I haven't totally lost my mind yet … something that I was sure was going to happen in the first couple weeks after my stroke.


Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-16 10:53:51 -0500 Report

Hi Steve,

I think this is a very healthy approach. To me, being optimistic means balancing a realistic attitude with also focusing on what's possible. The happy-go-lucky approach can sometimes border on denial, if it turns into "If I don't think about it, it will just go away." I always use the word optimistic with clients. It all starts with doing what you need to do to take care of yourself, and that can feel like a tough slog, one step at a time, when you hit a rough spot.

I love the idea of resetting in the morning. I do that too. Before I leave my home, I have a little talk with myself. How are you feeling? What's on your mind today? What do your priorities need to be? Where are you vulnerable? Asking those questions helps me to stay focused, to not be a deer in the headlights and just reacting all day. I also do some meditation in the morning.

Thanks a lot for sharing your approach with us. Hope you are doing well!


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-06-14 18:08:31 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary, I stay optimistic because I live in a very real world. I may be down for a day or two until I come up with a game plan. Then the best thing to do is get out of my way or get run over and I will run you over. As they say only the strong survive. The weak gets left to muddle over should I or should I not take action.

My food stamps were cut off by error. A State Delegate, Senator and the Governors Office of Constituent Services got them restored. I remained optimistic because I did nothing wrong.

I have to have surgery on June 25th, I am still optimistic. I don't like the fact that my food has to be liquid but I am a fighter and a survivor and I am not going to let this get me down. Am I nervous? Yes but I am going to make it.

Diabetes is a disease that can be controlled if the diabetic is willing to put in an effort. It is not a big deal. Right now I am having a hard time eating the proper foods because everything has to be in liquid form. Chicken does not taste good as a liquid. I am doing what I can to maintain blood sugar. Grated Mac and Cheese (Blender on grate) with ham is working as are my special Boost, Ice Cream and Root Beer soda shakes. You have to do what you have to do and can to stay in good health. For me, Falling off the wagon is not an option.

We were not born with a guarantee that our lives would be perfect. Not everyone is going to love us, like us, be kind to us or even want to be around us but the smart person realizes this and moves on. Dr. King was correct when he said, "Keep Hope Alive". You have to always have hope because once it is lost, it is hard to regain it.

I wish we didn't have to have sites like this but we do. I wish could have met all of my friends here in any other place but a diabetes web site. Each one of us have problems but how we deal with these problems should make us stronger as individuals. Being your own advocate builds strength and optimism. As long as we all have something to look forward to, all of us will have hope and strength.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-16 10:42:37 -0500 Report

Hi Joyce,

I always really appreciate your realistic, no-nonsense approach to life. I understand what you are saying here. Life doesn't adjust to what we want or don't want, or what we are willing or not willing to put up with. We can go with the flow and make the best of life, or we can allow ourselves to fall into despair. I know what your choice is!

It sounds like you are going through a bump in the road with the upcoming surgery and the eating requirements. I am amazed at how you are figuring this out and as always taking the best possible care of yourself. That's what living with diabetes is all about.

And yes, facing life's challenges makes us that much stronger. And being your own advocate is empowering.

Thanks a lot for sharing this. I hope you will keep us posted on how you're doing as you approach your surgery.


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-06-16 11:01:44 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary, living in a fairy tale world or viewing life with rose colored glasses is simply avoiding everyday issues both minor or major. Life is real and if you let every bump in the road to stop you, then I think you really need to stop the fairy tale life and remove the rose colored glasses. Life should not have to jump up and slap you in the face to let you know it is there. If you don't grab the bull by the horns, it will grab you. You can win your battles by standing up to the life's realities.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-21 15:34:26 -0500 Report

Hi Joyce, these are wise words. I agree. To be honest, I have to remind myself of that at times, as well. As humans, we have a specific way we want to view life, but it is not the same as the way life is. Thanks for this.

Trudie Ann
Trudie Ann 2014-06-14 15:28:15 -0500 Report

Things do not always turn out the way they should, or how you want them to. Life is not always fair, but if you realise this then you can work around it. I have found that most people will try to help you resolve a delima if they can. True there are people that don't care but I try to surround myself with people who can. That is why I like Diabetic Connect. There are a lot of caring people here who try to help. They know we are all different so they tell us of the problems they have encountered and how they have resolved them. ( I am talking about diabetic issues, but that also holds true with anything.) We all need a friendly ear and some where we can go and visit others with diabetes, or just to vent and get advice or at least ideas from other diabetics. Thank you to all of you here at DC for the advice and the ideas of what to ask my endocrinologist Monday on my first visit.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-06-16 10:41:10 -0500 Report

Truide I totally agree with you. Life is not fair. The people I see constantly with the most problems are people from all economic backgrounds who think they are entitled to everything. They don't understand that the world does not revolve around them. They can be the most disagreeable people you ever want to meet and always have problems.

Life is not always going to be a bowl of cherries and it is not always greener on the other side. When a person comes to terms with that, life and optimism will improve. There are also people who think everyone has to agree with every word that comes out of their mouths. They can't stand it when someone doesn't agree with them. I think it is because they think inside the box which limits their ability to think.

I really don't have diabetic issues. I know I have to take care of myself so I do that. I really do not focus on diabetes. It is not my first thought in the morning or my last thought at night. Diabetes care requires patience and diligence. I don't have to test every day and I don't have to constantly know what my blood sugars are. My blood sugar is in very good control. My doctor today could not believe that my numbers are as good as they are and that my A1C is steady. He was shocked to learn that since I was first diagnosed, I have only had to go to the hospital once since being diagnosed 5 years ago. This is because I know what I have to do and I just do it. Diabetes is almost an afterthought for me because everything is routine. I do remain optimistic because there is no option to do otherwise.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-15 18:11:14 -0500 Report

Hey Trudie Ann,

What a great testimony to the power of support, and especially the powerful support on Diabetic Connect! Fantastic!

We all need people in our life who can be supportive, who can listen without judgment. And let us vent when we need to. As you said so well, a friendly ear.

Glad you are here!


Kats49 2014-06-14 15:18:53 -0500 Report

I just got through a poor me episode, I struggle with my weight even though I eat fairly healthy and I do portion control, I have crushed discs in my back and I did something that flared up the pain. Then of course my sugars soared up as well.SO I ended up on a roller coaster of pity. I should have gone to the pool to swim, but babysitting got in the way. I woke up out of the depression fog in two weeks. Sometimes it helps me to just give in to the blaming game, then to pull out of it is very rewarding. So i am back swimming 3 x a week. Helps my emotions and pain levels immensely. Which in turn keeps my optimism levels high…most people that know me say I am Always optimistic…they rarely see the bad times. It is the way I was raised.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-15 18:04:38 -0500 Report

Hey Kats,

Thanks for sharing this. Wow, it looks you found your way out of the depression fog. It's so important to take care of yourself, to make yourself a priority, as much as you can. And it sounds like keeping yourself in the pool three times a week helps to make the rest of your life that much more possible.

Keep that optimism going!


Type1Lou 2014-06-14 14:55:47 -0500 Report

I'm feeling particularly stressed right now dealing with my first Medicare prescription order…it is not going smoothly. But, when I sink my teeth into an issue, I can be pit-bull-tenacious. I always try to deal with customer service reps in a polite and reasonable manner (Having once been one) but I'm not easily brushed off with non-answers and I am willing to escalate any inquiry I have up the management ladder until I receive a reasonable and satisfactory answer…it may not always be the answer I wish for but it needs to make sense. I guess I'm not easily defeated…there are always choices that can be made once the options are examined.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-15 18:00:22 -0500 Report

Hi Lou,

Nice to see you! And thanks for checking in.

It's always a good idea to show kindness, but sometimes some assertive behavior is in order if you want to get things done. I know how frustrating it can be when an order goes wrong. I hope you are able to get this straightened out soon, if you haven't already. And yes, if we take a step back and objectively look at the options, there is often a clear way ahead.


Fairlawngirl 2014-06-14 14:32:20 -0500 Report

I agree with, feel it all. I just increased my basals for 2 periods of time. My physician had lowered them due to my being hypoglycemic states. I just changed them myself. I can be in the 200's at the very same time of day despite eating my typical lunch. Same with my bad habits of bed time snacks. As a past physician (pediatrician) that wrote notes, scrips, etc, I think my life was better. I cared for many patients/children/parents and returned calls.
In todays world-all this computer documentation, conversations, limited access to call backs. I think primary care, as well as specialized medicine is more large big groups-dealing with many different personnel. I am sorry that I can not be an active physician anymore, but perhaps it is a bit better that I am not.
But, I do think that there are many people out there that feel sorry for themselves so much, not realizing how lucky they are. Think positively as you (and many of these people who communicate) do.
I hope you all have a good day (now that I typed your ear off)

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-15 14:23:17 -0500 Report

Hi Fairlawngirl,

Always great to hear from you. And thanks for checking in.

Sounds like you are taking charge of your health and doing what you need to do to keep your diabetes under control. And I am glad to see that you include managing your emotions as part of your self-care.

And you have a good day, too!


robertoj 2014-06-14 14:05:49 -0500 Report

I surrender to reality. It's almost like grief. The sooner I get to acceptance the sooner I can adapt to a new reality.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-15 14:13:47 -0500 Report

Great way to say it, Roberto. I think there is grieving process that people go through when they are adjusting to the requirements of a chronic condition like diabetes. We grieve, we come to acceptance. Thanks!

Lentyl 2014-06-14 13:30:33 -0500 Report

A year ago I had read from several reliable doctors books that a vegan diet was especially beneficial for those with diabetes. I tried that diet and it was definitely the wrong thing for me to do. My energy level fell dramatically and my emotions were labile. By December when I had my 3-months visit with my physician he said that there was something wrong with my blood and my HgB was quite low. He sent me to a hematologist for assessment. Turns out that I was clinically anemic. I have spent the past five months working to reverse this problem, successfully as it turns out. How did I do this. I went back to the way that I had been eating prior to vegan. I re-read Dr. Stanley Mirsky's book to get some positive thoughts into my mind then took steps to improve my diet and numbers. I returned to testing before and after every meal to see how foods were impacting my BG levels. I have a positive outlook almost all the time so really plugged into that. Taking one meal at a time worked well for me. My BG levels are almost back into a near-normal range. There is still a wee way to go. What amazed me was just how far I'd fallen from the right track with the foods that I was eating.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-06-15 14:11:51 -0500 Report

Hey Lentyl,

Thanks a lot for sharing your story here. This is really interesting. I don't know a lot about vegan diets, nor how they might impact people living with diabetes. Glad to hear you took action to get your diet and your emotions back on track. You are a great example of an empowered patient.

And it sounds like you are seeing results. Fantastic!

I hope you will keep us posted!


RebDee 2014-06-15 06:40:59 -0500 Report

I too thought a vegan diet would work but it did not. Portion control on all foods including the ones that I enjoy occasionally such as beef ribs or a steak keep me level. I have been on the NO WHITE DIET (no salt, no sugar, no white flour, no noodles, no white bread, no white potatoes) and it seems to be working as I have lost weight and inches and my BS has gone down. In fact, I have had to have my insulin pump adjusted twice in two months.

Lentyl 2014-06-15 08:06:20 -0500 Report

You're right about portion control. Not only do I follow the no white diet I've also had to realize that I can't eat any grains or their products. Tomatoes put my BG up too. Red meat does the same thing. I just keep on keeping on learning something almost every day. An interesting journey. My glass is always half full :D

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