The Monkey on Your Back

When you’re first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, the thing that sounds hard is the shots -- all those needles.  There’s the checking your sugar multiple times a day, not to mention dosing for each meal and snack and taking that shot for your daily long-acting insulin.  You count the number of pokes you’ll need and it feels overwhelming and painful.

But most people with T1D adjust to the shots.  Some switch to a pump.  Those with cooperative insurance may a CGM.  The number of sticks a day may go down.  They may not.  You may decide to stick with multiple injections a day -- and have no problem dosing for that extra snack. Either way, as you go on with your life with Type 1, it’s not no longer the pokes that are hard.  It’s just the managing.  The straight-up roller coaster of blood sugars.  The syndrome of did-the-same-thing-got-a-different-result.  It’s that you can never get it quite right.  In our house -- with two kids with Type 1 -- we sigh and remind ourselves that it’s an art, not a science.  The bottom line is none of us can never be sure of the results we’re going to get, despite our best efforts.  

But here’s the real catch:  The job is invisible to most people.  Very few folks will understand how much extra work is required for you to get to the starting line of each and every day:  How you have to think through every possible emergency and make sure you have enough supplies before you leave the house; how you might have lost sleep the night before because of a low or pump failure, but have to be to work or school on time, nonetheless; how you might feel off-kilter in the morning because something you ate the night before has you still running high.  One person described it to me as the monkey on her back -- always there, always annoying, always chattering.  
When you live life with an invisible disability like Type 1, it’s important to have strong allies.  Maybe the folks you live with or your family really get it.  If they do, then they know how much work your management is: They can listen to your woes or pitch in with small assistances, like helping you pack up your supplies in the morning.  Some of the best allies are those folks who are living with their own personal monkey as well -- other people with Type 1.  Sure, all your experiences won’t be the same, but it’s amazing how relieved most folks feel when they can code shift into diabetes-speak and share the day-to-day difficulties they experience.  And if you’re feeling like that monkey on your back is really impacting you, causing you to feel depressed or anxious or impacting your diabetes management in a way that’s making it hard to live your life fully and effectively, it might be time to reach out and get some professional help.  I’d be happy to hear from you:  If you think it’s time to reach out to a therapist, please call me at 510-708-4636 or send me a message.