Category Archives: parental depression

I don’t have diabetes but diabetes can still bring me down.

Diabetes is exhausting.  The emotional toll of test, calculate, bolus is incredible. I am lucky.  I don’t have diabetes, but diabetes can still bring me down.  Because I don’t have diabetes, when it does tend to be too much I can step away,  put it on the back burner and regroup before I dive  in again. I wish everyone with diabetes had it that easy.

For years I was my son’s external pancreas.  It was exhausting.  I never slept more than four hours at a time.  If I woke up during the night, I tested his blood glucose levels.  We had no CGMs.  We just had me. It was my job to make sure that he was in range.  I was the one to calculate carbs, adjust insulin ratios and log blood glucose readings.

My son tested and learned alongside of me but I carried the bulk of the burden…until he turned 16.  At 16, he decided that he could handle it all.  He carried the entire burden for the next three years unless he was visiting me.  When he was with me, I took over as much as he wanted.

Taking over wasn’t the same as doing it 24/7.  That being said, being an external pancreas also wasn’t the same as being the one to experience the highs, lows and pokes with needles multiple times per day.  Not being able to “fix it” or take it away could (can) bring me down as much as the pressure of daily diabetes care.

I  still wish that I could take the pain away. I wish that my son would know a different life.  There isn’t a day that I don’t ache for the families and other people living with diabetes knowing that they can never stop testing or injecting.  Their very lives depended on it.

As I  brush away those feelings, a new sadness often creeps in and diabetes can bring me down again.  The new sadness often comes from   my advocacy efforts.

Ever since my son’s diagnosis, I have worked very hard in various advocacy arenas.  I have worked with grassroots groups, individuals and large organizations to see changes for children and adults living with type 1 diabetes.  This means that I also am exposed to the worst in the diabetes world.  People come to me when they are struggling and don’t know where else to turn.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being that shoulder. I love being able to give back to them in the same way that others were there for me.  The problem for me arises when we can’t see a perfect resolution.  I ache when someone comes to me with a situation that I know there is just no current solution for. I want to fix it desperately but when I can’t?  Diabetes can bring me down.

At some points that sadness because I can’t fix it has been overwhelming.  Those are the times that I have had to step back a bit. I have had to reduce the time I spent on issues and allow myself to step back from the advocacy arena.  During these times, I remind myself that there are many others out there who can handle it just as well and I regroup.

I will admit, sometimes diabetes has brought me down so far that I wondered if I would come back.  Had my advocacy usefulness past? Was I too cynical? I can’t really answer that but I can say that I recharge and am pulled back into the ring by families and individuals who continue to reach out looking to me for help.

I don’t have diabetes.  Diabetes can still bring me down but it never keeps me down.  Each day I wake ready to work a little harder.  Each day I will share what has worked for us and hope to inspire and assist others living with diabetes.  I will continue to work with individuals and groups to create better care for people with diabetes regardless of education or income level.  Diabetes can bring me down but it will not win. My battle won’t end until a cure is found.

Confessions of a Depressed D-Momma

This post was written earlier this year and understood by many.  Things have improved for the most part but diabetes and depression seem to go together far too often…

Confessions of a D-Momma

At the beginning of the year I posted about people living with diabetes and depression and/or burnout.  As parents, we ache for our children going through this each day and do our best to relieve some of their burden. Many parents go through a depression or period of mourning at diagnosis but I wonder how many feel that they may have developed depression in part because of diabetes moving into their homes?

When my son was diagnosed, it took me months before I sat and cried.  Initially I was so happy that he was alive that I didn’t think beyond that.  As he grew stronger, my focus was on learning and the fear of “what if”.  After months of testing and injecting, it hit me one night…I would never make him better. I would continue this routine until he would do it himself but he would not be cured. I sat alone in the dark and cried.

I moved on after that. I took control where I could because diabetes had left other parts of our lives so out of control. I found an amazing online support group.  I met some local people who became friends.  They understood my life and it made me feel less alone. I plowed through and worked on a variety of issues. I tackled the federal government and had them change the Disability Tax Credit, making it more fair for people with diabetes. I joined groups and committees. I advocated for change in a variety of areas. I organized diabetes walks, created a website and eventually began this blog.

Despite all of these great things and the encouragement of many, I always had a sense that I was not doing enough. I was inadequate. Change was slow.  Rewards were gifts to the heart.  Because most of what I did was volunteer, there was very little, if any, financial reward. Money is what makes the world go around and if you have no financial worth then what is your value? People would tell me that I should “get a life”.  I should “get over it”. I needed to “get a real job”.
In my heart, I know my value. I know what I have done as a parent, a mother and an advocate are very important. These comments still haunt me however. They still make me wonder.  I know the good things that I have done and continue to do. I see my son’s A1c when he is with me and I know that I am important to his health. I know the real value of that gift  When I begin to forget my worth, I often receive amazing emails and comments that truly light up my day. The value of these comments and the friendships I have made are well beyond a financial measure to me. 

And yet there are some days this knowledge is still not enough to see me through to the next day. The demons, the comments, the fears, the exhaustion–they are all there in the back of my head.  They lurk, telling me that I am not good enough–as a pancreas, as a parent, as a person.  The depression takes over. A black cloud hovers overhead.

Its a cloud that I cannot quite seem to easily escape. I look at myself and ask, what gives? I have a lot of blessings in my life. I have a lot to be thankful for. What is my problem?

I wish I knew. I have to fix it. I have seen many victories from many battles over the years–both personal and in the diabetes world. I should be happy with my successes. I should not be sad, depressed, blue, fearful or lack any self-worth. Perhaps its a shift that I need to make within me–to focus on the positive and push back the depression and feelings of inadequacy.   
Diabetes has taken over a lot of our lives. It has brought many changes and has brought me many blessings.  It has changed me. It has enhanced me.  It seems to have also brought a friend called depression but I won’t let it win any more than I will let diabetes win.