What is Your Blood Sugar?

As far back as I can remember, me saying, “I don’t feel good” is always followed by someone saying some variation of, “What is your blood sugar?” When I am especially grumpy or really sad, or just not all there, it is almost always blamed on my blood sugar. Argh!!! Why can’t it just be that I don’t feel well or that I am having a bad day? Why can’t it just be a normal ailment that a regular, non-diabetic person gets? Why can’t it just be me? As if my numbers are not already constantly on my mind, and right in front of my face.

Every illness or stress I have can and often does affect my blood sugar and more often than not, it is my out-of-whack blood sugar making me feel like crap. I know this, yet the question still bothers me when I know it shouldn’t. People only ask out of concern, yet it still does. A lot. If it wasn’t my blood sugar that was causing me to feel off in the first place, an out of range number is sure to follow. It’s a vicious cycle: moods, stress, illness and life in general affect blood sugar and, in turn, blood sugar affects moods, can cause stress, makes you feel ill and disrupts your life. It is an endless merry-go-round that is not very merry.

If it is not in fact my blood sugar that is contributing to my moodiness, then the next question my husband and close friends will ask is “Have you been taking your medicine?” By medicine, they mean my pal Prozac. I have tried not taking it daily and sometimes still have lapses where I seem to think I will be okay without; the result is not pretty. I have been taking Prozac on and off for close to 6 years now, so with the help of my doctor I am resigned to the fact that this is what I need. I am well aware of the multitude of controversies surrounding Prozac and other ‘mood-enhancing’ drugs, but I also know that, for me, it makes my life livable. When I get lulled into the idea that I feel great, with no extreme bouts of depression or dark days, I start to think that I don’t need this help anymore; I am brought back to reality in a couple weeks’ time. I hate that the question of whether or not I have been taking Prozac has to even be asked. I wish I could be okay without it, but I have learned from experience that I am not.

I feel bad that when I yell at my husband about something totally stupid like our grocery shopping, he has to wonder if it is my blood sugar or if I have not been taking my meds. The man is a saint and lets me get through my yelling at him for no good reason followed by my subsequent hour long nonsensical sobbing before gently asking me what my blood sugar is and if I have been taking my medicine.

Medicine injected into me through a tiny cannula attached to a pump on my belt and medicine swallowed each night to allow me to function as a normal human being – ain’t life grand?


art-sweet said...

yes. Yes. YES. YES!

I could have written this exact post, Melissa, but not nearly as well. Sometimes I think that my reluctance to do something as simple as swallow a little pill every night is tied to a deeper resentment of the fact that I need all of this to keep me functioning.

And after a couple of days of doing fine without it, I think, hey maybe I don't really need this after all. And then in about two weeks I start sobbing over the fact that the cat missed the litterbox again, and Pili looks at me, and says "um, I hate to ask, but..."

melissa said...

Hugh sigh...of relief. It is so good to hear that I am not the only one that feels this way. I am pretty positive that I have deep resentment for having to take the pills and the insulin too. There are times when I think why was I given the depression on top of the diabetes? Wasn't diabetes enough to deal with? Then I sometimes go down the long dark road of comparing myself to say my sister & wondering why I can't be as disciplined, and pretty and skinny, and.... as she is. But if I had the answers to big questions like these I would likely be famous or at least rich :)

Sandra Miller said...

This is a huge challenge for us as well.

When Joseph is upset or acting out of sorts, it's just so hard to figure out if his blood sugar is the culprit, without invalidating his feelings.

I really don't have a good answer to this. Except to say, I hear ya.

Elizabeth said...

Wow. Melissa, like everyone else who responded to this... I feel the same as you. I am not on any meds for depression... although sometimes I think I should be. Dealing with diabetes is not easy and someetimes we need assistance with that.

My boyfriend, David, puts up with a lot of sh*t that accompanies my diabetes. I have to wonder, if the roles were reversed, could I be as strong as him?

Scott K. Johnson said...

Hey Melissa,

Definately not alone on this. I am on (and have been on) meds for depression too.

When I first realized that I needed help with my depression (with the help of my loving and patient wife), I was really disturbed. I had always thought of myself as an upbeat, positive and optimistic person - not one that needed a pill to keep my mind out of the crapper.

I had to swallow a lot of pride to be Ok with the fact that I now needed meds to keep me from being so down and negative.

Depression and diabetes go hand in hand for many people. It's due to relentless demands we face.

I kind of look at it like this. Diabetes puts more pressure, stress, responsibility and guilt on us than anything anyone can imagine. It is Ok to need a little help sometimes. There is nothing wrong with us being proactive with our mental health, and in fact that in itself shows that we are not giving in to the constant pressures. Rather, we are working to be better able to deal with the demands we face every day.

And it's Ok to vent out sometimes too. It's when those venting episodes damage our support relationships that we need to really take a look at what's important.

Like everything else with D (and it seems life in general), finding balance is the key.

I wish I had an easy answer for us. If I figure anything out you all will be the first to know!

art-sweet said...

Melissa -

I'm so glad that it was helpful for you to hear that others have had similar experiences. I for one, am grateful to you for bringing these feelings out into the light of day and starting the conversation.

Your comment about comparing yourself to your sister also struck a chord with me - on my more emotionally overcast days, I feel like there's something inherently off about me, and everything that's not so good stems from that: my diabetes, my depression, the extra little roll around my waist, the fact that we don't have a kid yet...

On better days, I can see that that's not really the case.

But I think it's hard not to internalize diabetes as some kind of personal flaw, especially when you've had it for as long as we have.

Take care, be kind to yourself, and know that you are not alone,


Lyrehca said...

I can so relate about saying "I don't feel good," and having the next question be "did you test your blood recently?" I mean, really, I have a headache, not a low blood sugar.

And yes, I've certainly been in enough therapy in my time to be able to relate to the depression/diabetes thread. You're not alone.

Ellen said...

Thanks for sharing this very important post. As a mom to an 18 year old who has had diabetes for 17 years, I'm guilty of asking for him to check bg when ill to rule out high or low first. As the person who doesn't have diabetes, I walk a fine line between being supportive and being intrusive. It's not easy. I've started to ask how I can be supportive now that he's nearly an adult. I feel guilty if I don't ask about the diabetes (maybe he'll think I don't care anymore and he's on his own alone with the diabetes) and guilty if I do ask (he thinks I'm nagging and surely he knows what to do by now). I suppose there's nothing right a person can say when their loved one has a high blood sugar. Is it ok to ask if they want something to drink?