Tale 11 : Mental Health for Diabetics: What's That?
Today I would like to talk about mental health some more. It has always been in the shadows and no one talks about how Type 1 Diabetics are so much more prone to mental health issues. Because being a diabetic doesn't particularly make me look like I might be suffering mentally, doesn't mean that this topic doesn't deserve attention in the community.
Being insulin-dependent can take a big toll on your mental health. Diabetics have to constantly keep a watch on what they eat, how much insulin they inject, timings of meals and injections, and physical activity. If the blood sugar doesn't stay in the desired range then it can give rise to feelings of despair and guilt. This becomes a cycle and to get out of that cycle mentally is not easy.
Even though I've been a diabetic for fifteen years, I still get bouts of despair and hopelessness. My daily yoga practice really helps in keeping my mind and body light but sometimes even yoga fails to lift me up. In such moments when I cannot grab on to anything to stay afloat, I wish that there was some scientific method specially for diabetes related mood fluctuations. I cannot run from my diabetes and it's going to stay with me till my last breath, so, what am I to do to manage the psychological pressure that this chronic condition will keep bringing in my life?
Why is this not talked about? We talk a lot about diet and insulin and complications that diabetes accompanies but, why don't we talk about the darkness that this condition brings to the mind? I have attended many talks and lectures about Type 1 Diabetes but have rarely heard some health professional talk about the importance of mental health for young diabetics. When someone asks me what is wrong in my life to feel anxious and depressed, I don't have an answer. Why don't we get educated about depression and anxiety as Type 1 Diabetics? I just wish we started talking more about it.
The best gift that I've given myself is that of becoming a yoga teacher. Through the physical practice and philosophy of yoga, I have become more accepting of the reality of my diabetes. Many people don't understand when I say that I get bouts of anxiety and depression sometimes. Because I'm a yoga teacher it's quite difficult for people to accept that I might suffer from depression too, and apparently, diabetes in itself is too petty a reason.
We've seen so many people who look normal doing terrible things to themselves. So many celebrities have started speaking about depression openly. At least now we should stop judging normal looking people suffering from mental health issues. They may look normal but who knows deep down what they are going through. Some more attention should also be given to understanding Type 1 Diabetes related depression and anxiety disorders. Even if we may look happy and normal, we might be suffering a lot inside.
A person who says he's depressed should be believed without questioning, and support should be extended by friends and family so that he doesn't have to go through it all alone. A person who is supported is more likely to fight off mental health conditions than the one who is suffering in silence. Being compassionate can save lives. And to my fellow T1Ds, if you ever want to talk, I'm here. We are together in this battle against mental health conditions and together we are more powerful than we can ever imagine. :)