Anxiety vs. Anxiety

I was settling into my chosen as- comfortably- far- away- from -the- world- as- I- can- get- in- public booth at a popular fast food restaurant. I had just begun to stuff my fries (I know, potatoes are the worst food on earth for a diabetic) into my face-hole when suddenly to my left the worst thing that could happen to a person with social anxiety happened.

“Can I sit with you?” The voice came strong and fast.

I was caught off guard. Was this stranger speaking to me? OMG, did she just say what I think she said? The restaurant had like ten quadrillion empty tables, why sit with me? I was confused and instantly flooded with anxiety. I didn’t have time to think, I just reacted.

I smiled politely and with a polite tone the word just came out of my mouth as if I just opened the gate and it fell out like the awkward dunce I feel like when I have to talk to anyone.

“Why?”

“I don’t like to sit alone. I feel weird eating alone.” She replied in that same fast, clipped tone.

Still stunned and profoundly uncomfortable, my childhood training and nature of compassion took over. I don’t even think I was in any control of my mouth and voice.

“Sure, go ahead.” I even nodded and motioned to the seat across from me! Gah!!!

…The once gloriously empty seat across from me was now sullied by the warm booty of a strange woman.

And she’s looking at me!!!!

OMG! Save me! I can’t do this, I can’t handle this thing!…this….socializing!

I smiled nervously. My eyes darted every which way but at her. I looked out the window…she looked out the window. I looked over to the service counter…she looked over to the service counter.

I couldn’t bring myself to look at her and she seemed to be a bit confused by this. Then…

WTF?! She’s taking her shoes off!

And then…

“I’m going to take some of your fries.” She said.

Again she spoke fast; and this time she kind of mumbled so I didn’t catch what she had said right away.

I smiled like an idiot.

“Just kidding, you know I don’t like fries.” She said with a slight giggle.

Is she talking to me?

Then she opened her food bag and pulled out a cheeseburger. Next, she went through her pockets carefully pulling out each item and laying it on the table in front of her.

A Raiders game ticket, old and kind of crumpled. She smoothed it out.

A credit card shaped card with the Raiders logo on the front and a game calendar printed on the back.

“Nice.” I said, not having the slightest idea of how to react or of what was going on.

Two one dollar bills and two quarters.

And lastly a small white piece of paper. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was.

Then she touched each item with her index finger, stacked them all carefully, and then put each item back exactly where it had come from in her pockets.

All the while she was mumbling, rocking back and forth a bit, and sometimes looking around and nodding her head.

Is this woman on drugs?!

Then she unwrapped her cheeseburger, flattened out the wrapper and then promptly shoved the entire burger in her mouth.

She smiled, now avoiding my eyes.

She looked like a squirrel with a mouthful of nuts.

I nervously looked around as if someone was going to magically come rescue me. Instead I said the first thing that came to my mind.

“It’s kind of busy in here today.” This, of course, couldn’t have been farther from the truth. But I suppose I thought it because my social anxiety was exploding through the roof at this moment.

GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!

She finished her burger and reached into her bag and pulled out another.

Oh, God…

Then she repeated the entire scenario from the top. Remove items from pockets, set on table, touch each one with finger, stack, put back in pockets.

Unwrap burger, flatten out wrapper, stuff entire burger in mouth.

I concentrated on finishing my fries…and sent my hubby a short text about the current happenings in my whereabouts.

“Change seats.” He responded.

Oh, if it were only that easy for an anxiety riddled person! The thoughts going through my mind as I thought of getting up and changing seats mostly consisted of this woman taking the action as some kind of betrayal and pulling out a shiv and promptly gutting me.

I stayed…profoundly uncomfortable…jumble-minded…feeling very awkward…and a bit scared.

As she finished chewing the last of her burger – somehow managing not to choke on it- she gathered up her things and nodded at me as she smiled and rolled her eyes.

She left.

As I watched her get on the bus just outside I felt a profound sense of relief.

What the heck was all that about?!

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks…and my relief transformed into guilt.

Thinking back over what just happened I realized that she wasn’t some psycho druggy, or crazy person who could attack me at any moment and is not in touch with reality.

The poor girl just wanted to sit with someone because she is fully aware that she has OCD, talks to herself…and has some…quirks…

“I don’t like to sit alone. I feel weird eating alone.”

She just wanted to look like she was talking to someone, hanging with a friend. Instead of being stared at and judged poorly for talking to herself and being a ‘weirdo’.

I felt so bad. My social awkwardness and anxiety probably made her think just what I felt.

Afraid, uncomfortable, awkward, confused…

I didn’t truly feel these things toward her…not most of them at least…I felt them because I just can’t function well in face-to-face social situations. The  social anxiety takes control of me, just like her OCD anxiety controls her.

I truly hope I didn’t ruin her day.

See, people?! This is exactly why I don’t leave my house!

 

 

A Bit of Random

I spend too much time writing blog posts that simply report what is going on in my medical life. I had this appointment, these symptoms, etc. I really need to get back to actually writing the way I love to and know how to. I need to stop being lazy about my writing.

As an uncontrolled type 1 diabetic I have a butt ton of health issues. Although I’m told time and time again that it is not all my fault, it can happen to even the most well controlled diabetic, I am no fool. I know and do not shy away from the fact that my lifetime of rebellion and self-destructive behavior… purposely not taking care of myself, has earned me these punishments. I do my best to take them in stride and try to be good…better late than never.

I am very prone to staph infection. The only thing I can say is good about this is that these infections are only skin deep. I have never had an internal and life threatening staph infection. But these infections must be treated promptly and aggressively because they are tough and can take awhile to overcome. I must check my body daily to make sure no new infections have popped up. These infections don’t hurt or let off any noticeable symptoms most of the time. They are only noticed by sight; usually a dime sized crater in the skin that is hollow to the touch. If I don’t catch it early it may abscess…that’s when the pain hits.

I have lived with powerful anxiety my entire life, but it has only been this past 3 years that it got severe enough that I finally admitted I need help with it. I have been going to counseling. This started out as group therapy and art therapy, but is now one-on-one. I am very glad to be doing this. It helps to talk to someone who is neutral and not judgemental, and understands how I feel and what I’m struggling with. I am given some homework after each session, something to work on, an exercise, or just something to actively think about. Currently I am writing a personal diary that no one reads but me. In this diary I write about all those things I would never tell a soul (it’s not really that much since I am mostly an open book). It’s just a way to get it out of me, to actively think about it and face my fear, shame, anger, etc. in a manner that is still private. One thing I knew, but had not admitted, that I’ve learned in therapy is that I am agoraphobic (afraid to leave my home). I would say it’s borderline because I do leave my house – when I have no other option – it is just difficult because being around people makes me profoundly uncomfortable (anxious) and I just want to hide in my safe place (home).

What made my anxiety begin to get worse was my broken heart. Call it a near death experience. I more accurately call it a wake-up call. I finally realized exactly what all those warnings really meant. “Take care of your diabetes or you’ll have a heart attack and die.” “Take care of your blood sugar or you’ll go blind.”, etc.. These things actually really do happen! I am living proof. We are not immortal. We are not the exception. It can, and will happen to you if you don’t take care of yourself. I lay in my hospital bed, about to be rolled into open heart surgery, and all I could do was bawl in terror and cry for my mommy.

From that moment on the anxiety was constant and crippling.

As many diabetics do, I suffer with depression as well as the anxiety. Although I never haven’t had anxiety, the depression began at my type 1 diagnosis. Again, I never realized I was depressed. I just thought this was how life was; doesn’t everyone feel this way? It wasn’t until several months ago that I lay in bed in my week old filth, thinking I should get up and do something, but then thinking what’s the point, that I realized I needed help. I’m on happy pills now and the depression is well under control. My smile is actually genuine, no longer a mask. 🙂

I never haven’t struggled with my diabetes. I used to think it was all my fault ( in many ways I still do) but over the past couple of years I’ve learned so much more about this disease than I ever have known. And I’ve learned that I am justified in thinking I’m a bad diabetic, but for different reasons than I first thought. I used to think I was bad because I couldn’t control my blood sugar even when I tried and did everything right. I now know that wasn’t my bad, it’s just the nature of the disease. There’s just too many factors that effect blood sugar. I am a bad diabetic only when I don’t try.

Living with diabetes has made me a much stronger person. I have a high tolerance for pain, hell I had invasive eye surgery (which is done while you are awake) where the nerve block wore off and I remained still -in agonizing pain –  and quiet while the doctor “quickly” finished up. I persevere despite a million setbacks and frustrations over my health and BG’s. I try to make the best of my circumstances and use my experiences to reach out and help other diabetics.

I don’t know about most diabetics, but I love my endocrinologist. We get along great, we understand each other. She lets me talk, and actually listens. She is aware of the stress and emotional toll diabetes takes. She schedules 15 minute appointments because she is required to, but she’ll spend as much time as is necessary with her patient. She knows diabetes inside and out and makes treatment plans for the individual, not the ‘ideal’ or ‘average’ diabetic. She was my endo from age 11 to 19, and then from 21 to 27, and then just this year, at age 37, I started seeing her again. I keep coming back because I have never found a better endo.

There is a condition common among diabetics called gastroperisis. This is basically nerve damage of the stomach  probably caused from years of inflammation from high blood sugar. This nerve damage causes the stomach to become paralyzed and no longer digests and empties properly. This causes a lot of distressing symptoms such as loss of appetite, malnutrition, nausea, vomiting (often hours or days after eating you’ll vomit up undigested food that’s just been sitting in your tummy twiddling it’s thumbs).  This condition is not fun. I found a great way to ease a lot of the symptoms. One probiotic pill every single day.

I’ve had a lot of non-diabetics assume that the symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are the same every single time you experience a low. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are many, many symptoms of low blood sugar – confusion, aphasia, blurry vision, sweating, random tingling and numbness, weakness, shakiness, panic, lethargy, loss of consciousness, mood swings, nausea….I could go on and on with symptoms. Every time I have a low the symptoms are in a different order, some I have, many I don’t, and they come in different severities depending on the severity of the low.  It’s like drawing a lottery.

Another misconception of diabetes is that the diabetic must follow an extremely strict and restricted diet. Pshh, we can eat whatever the hell we want as long as we are smart about it. And every diabetic is different, unique. What one diabetic has a hard time eating without spiking another diabetic might have no problem with. So, don’t go judging or asking things like, “are you sure you can eat that?”. Watch me…

My most recent struggle has been with my thyroid. You think the symptoms of hypoglycemia are bad…OMG, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are down right terrifying! I thought my heart was going bad again. But, thank the gods, after a month of terrifically galling symptoms I finally, and quite spontaneously, got better. It wasn’t Grave’s Disease as we feared, it was just a case of thyroiditis, which cures itself.  Whew.

Well, there you go. I’m rusty in my writing, but I’ll get back on track soon.

 

 

Good and Not So Good News

Every now and then I end up with more than one doctor appointment in a day. I usually try to only have one appointment in a day because I’m always paranoid about time constraints, etc. Anyway, today was one of those rare days where I had two appointments.

My first appointment was with my endocrinologist. My husband had planned to drop me off at the hospital on his way to work, but for some reason I had a sort of anxiety attack and felt I needed my security blanket (my hubby) to hold on to. I just didn’t want to be alone. It was an overwhelming nervousness with no reason behind it. I felt so anxious that I asked him if he could possibly take the day off and come with me to my appointments. I just really needed him.

So he did. I felt bad, but he’s my hero, my rock.

My endo appointment was just a typical diabetic “check-up”. First let me announce with great joy that I lost 13 pounds over the last two months! And the only thing I changed was that I am taking a probiotic supplement.

When I explained to my endo about the probiotics and how they greatly reduced my nausea, vomiting, and helped me lose some weight, she was surprised and pleased. She wanted to know more because “I have so many type 1 patients with chronic nausea and vomiting, and gastroparesis, I could suggest the probiotic supplements to them!”

I was a bit ashamed to have her look at my blood sugars. They haven’t been all that awesome. But she wasn’t upset. “You’ve been doing things right. You’ve lost weight, you’ve gotten all your other health issues under control, and all that without really messing up your A1c too bad. Now all you have to work on is the blood sugar control. You’re not that far off.”

We talked a lot about diet and eating habits, and a little about my sleeping too much issue.

I sleep 14 hours at night and sometimes even take a nap in the afternoon. Yeah, that’s a bit excessive, right? I’m not physically tired, just very, very sleepy all the time.

After the discussion and some suggestions, she ordered labs and we said our goodbyes.

In the afternoon I had an appointment with my primary doctor. This appointment was to get some disturbing symptoms figured out that I’ve had for a couple weeks now.

Dizzy spells

headaches that grow and spread to the point of my face, teeth, and tongue even throbbing!

a painful lymph node on the front left side of my neck

I have no pain in my ears, sinuses, tonsils, throat, and no nasal discharge, coughing or sneezing.

No fever, either

The doctor listened to my symptoms, did a full exam, even checked my balance. She informed me that there is no obvious reason for the “firm” painful lymph node and dizzy spells. She ordered a whole slew of lab tests and said she may order an ultrasound of my neck depending on what the labs say.

I told her that I checked my symptoms on webMD (just out of curiosity) and that it had asked me if I’d recently been scratched by a cat.

“I have, about three weeks ago my cat accidentally scratched me above my eyebrow.”

“Oh, did it get inflamed or infected?”

“No, it healed quite well.”

“Well, since you mention the scratch I’ll prescribe an antibiotic just in case. Let me know if it works or not on the lymph node and other symptoms, that’ll be important to know.”

“OK”

When she examined me she noticed my neck and shoulders are very tense. I informed her that they never haven’t been, that’s where I keep all my stress. She ordered a muscle relaxant because she figured it may help ease the headaches.

So, here’s to hoping my labs come back favorable. I’d hate to have yet another serious disease.

The Transformation

I’ve lived with anxiety and depression for just about my entire life. The first half of my life I didn’t know there was anything wrong. This was how I always was, I thought it was normal. Isn’t it like this for everyone?

I was going through my old papers from childhood. I came across a psychiatric evaluation done on me not long after my type 1 diabetes diagnosis (9 years old). My grades were not so good in school, so I was evaluated for learning disabilities and emotional problems, etc.. On the form I was described as exhibiting anger, frustration, anxiety, and depression.

This was all chalked up to emotional trauma due to my recent diagnosis and extremely high blood sugars.

But in reality I had always suffered from the anxiety and depression, it was just aggravated by the recent trauma.

When I hit puberty and my hormones decided to go haywire, things got worse. The thing about me is that I’m usually pretty good at hiding things. I could be feeling like the whole world is caving in on me,but on the outside I’m calm and quiet, and going with the flow.

fine dog

Most nights I would lay there in bed, crying, worrying about things that didn’t even matter, beating myself up (emotionally, and physically) about how I look, my out of control diabetes, what a horrible human being I am, etc.

There were times in my teens when I almost became a cutter. I just wanted to put a visual representation to my pain. I would also beat myself as hard as I could to try to bruise myself, but, damn me! I don’t bruise easy.

In junior high and high school I ditched as often as I could. Why? Because of social anxiety. It tore me to bits on a daily basis to be around so many people and have no way to escape. I wanted to be invisible, but there I was, in the crowd, exposed for all the world to see. I almost didn’t graduate high school because I had ditched so often, they said I had missed too many days. It took some finagling between me and some teachers to get my record fixed so I could graduate.

Things seemed to get better in my twenties. I got married at 20 and my husband became a security blanket for me. When in social settings (he’s an outgoing and social guy) he could take all the attention and I could just settle in as his arm candy. The only problem here was that I eventually became so reliant on this arrangement that I would decline to go out in public unless he was with me.

78c

One thing that actually helped me was that the line of work I ended up in was retail customer service. If you really hate yourself and are self-destructive, go into customer service. It taught me how to “fake it”. You are required to be happy, outgoing, polite, and smile no matter what. I was dying inside, but I always had a smile. I did come out of my shell, though. It became easier for me to talk to people…because I was forced to. But really I just wanted to slap a bitch most of the time.

People are evil. Working in retail will teach you this valuable life lesson. Nine out of ten customers were intent on causing drama and degrading the sales associates no matter what.

Before I started working in retail I thought people were mostly decent. Then I learned the truth. People are mean, disrespectful, and greedy by nature.

I am not exaggerating or being hypersensitive here, people.

retail

My twenties were a very stressful and up and down time for me. But I thought I was strong. I thought I was dealing with the stress well. I rarely thought there might be some “problem” emotionally or psychologically with me. I thought what I was feeling and how I was thinking and acting was normal.

I did notice, though, that I was hypersensitive. Everything went to my heart and hit me hard. Everything was personal no matter what.

I got tired of this. I hated myself for feeling this way. I recognized that it was causing more trouble than I needed and I took the initiative to change my thinking in this respect. My husband helped me. I learned that not everything is meant to hurt, not everything is said to be personal. Not everything is literal or serious. It took work, but I overcame my hypersensitivity. I can actually take a joke now.

My thirties started out OK, then sunk into the pits of hell. I discovered the therapeutic qualities of tobacco and alcohol. Forget that they almost killed me; they frickin’ made me feel good!

hook

With tobacco I could relax. The anxiety would go numb for awhile and I could smile and feel my muscles relax. The alcohol would increase that feeling and also kill my inhibitions so I could talk, joke, dance, and just have a good time socially.  Life was good.

Then I ended up in the hospital having triple bypass heart surgery. After this, everything changed.

The depression and anxiety tripled over the next few years. Suddenly I couldn’t leave my house without becoming super tense and anxious. Slowly I slid further and further into depression. I knew the anxiety was bad, but I really didn’t notice the depression until nearly three years had passed.

It wasn’t until I was sleeping 15+ hours a day, eating erratically, lethargic, numb, inactive, uninterested, and not showering that I realized I needed help.

I consulted with a behaviorist and she sent me to Intensive Outpatient Program therapy. I didn’t want to go because it was group therapy and with my anxiety being mostly triggered by social things, well, you see my concern. I went, though, because I wanted to get better.

Each session I felt more at ease. The discussion part wasn’t so fun, but it did help to know that so many people have the same experiences, they go through the same struggles and symptoms. Believe it or not it was the art therapy portion that helped me the most. Just sitting and coloring a picture set me at ease and made me feel a bit better.

After the IOP program was over I began to see a psychiatrist. I wasn’t thrilled to be put on medication, but I realized I needed more than just therapy…just a little extra help. I was already taking a low dose of depression medication to help my neropathy (leg pain) so the psychiatrist increased the dose to see if it would help my depression. And it also can help to stop anxiety symptoms before they even begin. It has been working very well for me.

The past couple of weeks have been extremely stressful for me and let me tell you I haven’t had any unbearable anxiety at all! It’s there, but it’s so mild I can just ignore it. And I have no depression at all!

I. Am. Happy.

I take Cymbalta and have zero side effects. So that’s good, too.

What caused my depression and anxiety? Mostly for me it is hereditary and apparently in me it was mild at first but slowly over the years (due to diabetes and hormone changes and very traumatic life events) it got worse.

Things that contributed to the depression and anxiety getting worse in me are: type 1 diabetes (uncontrolled), PCOS (set in at puberty), Heart surgery (no idea why but it changed things), Peri-menopause (started around 36 years old).

The symptoms I’ve lived with most my life: Palpitations, trembling, shortness of breath, sense of choking, nausea, dizziness, de-realization, social phobia, agoraphobia, worry, restlessness, fatigue, anger, muscle tension, feeling worthless and helpless, hopelessness, pessimism, overeating, self-destructive behavior, noise sensitivity.

good

One point I’d like to make here is that so many people refuse to get help for anxiety and depression because of the negative stigma attached to it.

It means you’re weak. It means you’re crazy, unstable, dangerous. It can’t be cured and meds will just give you bad side effects.

None of this is true. Most of the time depression and anxiety are rooted in chemical imbalances. Depending on what triggers it, it can be cured, or at the very least controlled, with therapy and/or medications. Yes, some of the medications can come with unpleasant side effects, but now days there are many to choose from and your doctor will help you find one that works well for you.

 

Talking About Nothing

I’ve been wanting to write for several days now, but there really isn’t too much diabetes wise to talk about lately. But since I am in such a writing mood I guess I’ll just type and see what comes out.

This past Friday and Saturday were kind of tough and frustrating. My gastroparesis decided to flare up pretty bad. I would bolus for food, eat, and then less than an hour later bottom out. I would pop some glucose tabs to treat the low and then end up outrageously high a couple hours later. Why? Because my tummy wasn’t digesting!

Then I would vomit about nine hours later, totally undigested food.

GAH!!!!!

Other than that I’ve been doing OK. I’m still struggling with increased anxiety. And my depression is kind of working in waves at the moment.

I’m super anxious because our move into the “bad” house is just around the corner. Everyone keeps telling me things like, “just keep your eye on the big picture. This is all for a good reason.” and, “Just think about the good things, make the best of it.”

Yeah, right, that’s much easier said than done. Happy thoughts only work a tiny bit for me. I’ve been in these exact same living arrangements before and they lead me to a nervous breakdown, so don’t blame me for being super worried it might happen again.

On a happy note, I’ve been getting a lot more exercise lately. And also going outside. I’ve been walking so much that I wore out a pair of shoes! It’s all really helping my depression, but my BG’s and weight are still being stubborn.

Give it time, I guess. 🙂

I’m regaining my interest in hobbies my depression had squashed for awhile. I’m reading, crocheting, and cooking more again. 🙂

I had an appointment with my endocrinologist yesterday but there’s really nothing to report that I haven’t already discussed in this or previous posts.

I’m supposed to get an appointment to start one-on-one counseling for my anxiety and depression but I keep playing phone tag with the scheduling nurse.

Patience…

All-in-all I’m feeling a lot better. It’s always going to be a struggle, but I’m learning new ways to cope now.

 

 

The Thought Of Anxiety Pills Makes Me Anxious

I recently got blood work done. I love how it takes so little time to get results. I got the labs drawn and within less than 48 hours I have the results. I remember when I had to wait nearly a month for results!

I’m happy to report I do not have Celiac. So now I’m pretty sure my chronic nausea and vomiting are related to my anxiety. But who knows. I’ve just about given up on trying to figure some things out.

My A1c has gone up from 7.4 to 8.0.  I am actually a bit relieved because I was expecting it to have gone much higher. The rise is due to severe depression that caused me to not do anything to care for myself, including my diabetes. Quite literally for nearly three months. Many, many very high numbers as a result.

I had an appointment with a psychiatrist today. This was my second visit with her, but my first real visit as the first time was just a consult. We talked about how I’ve been feeling, what symptoms I’m experiencing from depression and anxiety.

I explained to her that I didn’t fill the Lorazepam prescription because the thought of it possibly becoming addictive scares me (increases my anxiety). She explained that she is very careful with patients over the addictive nature of Lorazepam and that as long as I take it as directed I shouldn’t have a problem.

She increased my Cymbalta from 20mg to 40mg. I’m hoping this helps both with depression and anxiety.

We spent some time talking about my isolating and being unwilling to leave my house. She seemed concerned about this problem. She asked me if I am seeing a counselor. I said no. She put in a referral to one.

My husband was there with me at this appointment. He stayed quiet most of the time but did chime in to let the doctor know that when I say I am reluctant to leave my home I really mean it.

“I’ll encourage her to go out with me, like, ‘let’s go grocery shopping.’ and she’s very adamant when she says no. Sometimes she gets on the verge of being mad when I ask her.”

I’m glad he went with me. I’m glad he cares and wants to be a part of my health care.

Well, we’ll see how the meds and counseling work out.

The Diabetic and Anxiety and Depression

Over the past few weeks I’ve posted about my struggles with depression and anxiety and how they both recently got bad enough that I needed to get professional help. I’ve  had many, many supportive comments. I’ve gotten zero malicious comments. I’ve also gotten some questions I would like to answer/address here.

“What does depression and anxiety have to do with type 1 diabetes?”

Type 1 diabetes isn’t as simple as your pancreas just no longer produces insulin. No, no, it’s that and a whole lot more. In as simple terms as I can to explain it, type 1 infiltrates your entire body, it literally has an effect on every single function, tissue, cell, hormone, chemical…EVERYTHING. This is why it is so important to take as good care of yourself as you can, to keep everything in line, in balance.

It can, and often does, throw your hormones and chemical balances all out of whack, and this can cause clinical depression and anxiety. Most of the time the diabetic can bring themselves back into balance through natural means such as diet, exercise, BG control, engaging in happy activities, etc.. But sometimes it can get bad enough that professional help may be in order.

From another viewpoint, Diabetes (all types) is a never ending job. You get zero breaks from the constant balancing act, zero respite from calculations, BG checks, medications, diet, exercise, doctor visits… literally everything you do in life must have diabetes considered in the mix. Just going to bed at night is a preparation, “Is my BG OK for sleep?”, “Do I need a snack or insulin?”, “Did I take my pills?”, “Do I need to set an alarm to wake me in the middle of the night to check on things?”, etc.

As you can see, this constant, unrelenting work can cause a lot of exhaustion, anxiety, frustration (when things don’t go as planned, etc.), depression.

There’s a lot more to it (I could write a book) but I think (hope) I hit the point.

“Have you always struggled with depression and anxiety?”

Yes and no. If I think back to my earliest memories I can remember anxiety as young as five years old. Depression? I don’t think that started until I was somewhere between 9 and 11 years old (I was diagnosed with type 1 at 8).

My depression and anxiety were never so bad that I couldn’t function in life. They didn’t interfere much. But there were times I did struggle more than others, like in school I can say my grades were low on occasion, probably because of depression and anxiety. Also, from 8th grade through to high school graduation, I ditched, a lot. Why? Because of social anxiety, I hated being around people, it made me profoundly uncomfortable. I just wanted to stay home.

There was one time that the depression and anxiety exploded into a nervous breakdown and made me seriously consider suicide. I can’t tell you all of the details, but I can give you the rundown. It was 2006, my husband and I had been living in pretty bad living arrangements for about five years. The original plan had been to put up with the stressful arrangements for a couple years until we were able to get our own, nice, place. Well, that hadn’t happened and things were spiraling out of control for me. My anxiety was through the roof on a daily basis and finally one day I just erupted. I went into a fit of rage, destroying everything in my bedroom, then I sunk into a chair, crying and hyperventilating. I noticed one of my husbands swords and I sat there, seriously wondering if I was strong enough to fall on it, thrust it through my heart, because I just couldn’t live like this anymore. (I still feel anxiety symptoms just remembering this day).

Then I came to my senses, I knew I had to get out of there, I had to separate myself from the problem. So I did, and things got better. My husband and I got a place within a month and all was fine, not perfect, but back to a manageable level of stress for me.

In 2013 I had open heart surgery. this seems to be the beginning of a new chapter in my life. This was when, health wise, everything just began to fall apart. I had the heart surgery, which went very well, then I began a journey of four eye surgeries for retinopathy. At this time my peripheral neuropathy became unbearably painful. Soon after I began to suffer more symptoms of gastroparesis. In 2015 I was diagnosed with PCOS. I gained a lot of weight and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t lose any. I lost my driver license, I quit my job…

All of this just fed my anxiety and depression. I became a hermit, never leaving my house unless I had no choice. I fell into a deep depression, not taking care of my house or diabetes, not showering, sleeping 15 hours a day…it was bad.

I realized I needed help. I got it. Now things are getting better.

Symptoms of anxiety:

*There are many types of anxiety and depression. They can manifest differently in each individual person. If you suspect you may have a problem with anxiety and/or depression, consult your doctor.*

Sudden overwhelming fear/panic

palpitations, fast heartbeat

shortness of breath

sweating

trembling

sense of choking, throat tightening

Chest pain, chest tightening

nausea/vomiting

dizziness

numbness/tingling

chills/hot flashes

Sense of being detached from the world (de-realization)

fear of dying

excessive worry/tension

unrealistic/exaggerated view of problems

restlessness/edginess

irritability

muscle tension

headaches

Difficulty concentrating

frequent use of the restroom

tiredness/fatigue

Trouble falling or staying asleep

easily startled

avoidance (of things that trigger your anxiety)

Symptoms of depression:

difficulty concentrating/remembering/making decisions

tiredness/fatigue

feelings of guilt/worthlessness/hopelessness

pessimism

insomnia or excessive sleeping

irritability/restlessness

loss of interest in activities once enjoyable

overeating or loss of appetite

persistent aches, pains, GI troubles, cramps, that do not respond to treatment

sad, anxious, or empty feelings

thoughts of suicide/suicide attempts

 

Being depressed or anxious does not make you weak, crazy, or any stereotypical (and very wrong)assumptions people have made throughout time. Anyone can become depressed or suffer anxiety, these are chemical imbalances, medical conditions.

Do not be ashamed or embarrassed if you have depression and/or anxiety. Do not avoid seeking help.

It can and will get better.