I have suffered from type 1 diabetes for nearly two decades, but my physical condition is good. I am healthy, I exercise, and I maintain a decent weight and acceptable A1c. I show no signs of any vital organ diseases.
So, why use the term “suffered"? My suffering is beyond the physical complications yet to be discovered. My suffering is emotional.
Diabetes is generally considered a physical disease, meaning the psychological strains are often overlooked. One of the biggest ones is depression.
In this article about diabetes and depression, we learn that people with diabetes have cognitive health risks associated with uncontrolled blood glucose levels (BG). Highs and lows affect brain matter and can lead to inflammation in regions that affect memory, attention, task performance, and other cognitive functions that help us to live productive, quality lives. As these areas are damaged and these functions suffer, our quality of life can decrease, causing depression.
Could this be why we get tangled up in the feelings of helplessness and the struggle to stay on course that comes from diabetes burnout?
As I have spent time in diabetes communities, as well as evaluated my own suffering, I have heard many people express sadness, lack of motivation and even thoughts of just giving up. Most of the time, this comes up when blood glucose is not well kept and perhaps more glucose is in the brain than is normal or medically acceptable. When this is the case, it is almost a given that our emotional well-being can be compromised.
If we can manage to keep blood glucose in check, get the exercise we need, and eat right, perhaps we can avoid or recover from diabetes burnout and beat, or altogether avoid, the hidden diabetes complication of depression.