Extreme Blood Sugars & Managing Emotions

Written by Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE

They are quiet, often sneak up on you, cause tons of frustration, and can lead to low self-esteem, arguments, relationship and diabetes burnout. 

What can have such a devastating impact but be so hard to notice at first? If you saw my last blog you know I am talking about micro-trauma (mini-trauma.) It is the daily complications that come with diabetes.

What exactly are mini-traumas, and why do they cause so much trouble? They are all the little inconveniences that happen over time. Your inner or outer voice may say things like, “Not now! Not Again! Not another low blood sugar (LBS) or high blood sugar (HBS)! I don’t want to get off the couch and check my blood sugar!”

These micro-trauma events might look like this:

Micro-traumas can be anything that is related to managing your diabetes, that prevents or interrupts what you are doing at that moment. Essentially, deviating you from your plan.

With so many things that can go wrong, it’s important when managing your emotional health to forgive yourself when things don't go as planned. Allow for the flexibility in your life, to make adjustments in your schedule when diabetes happens.

Being flexible seems counter-intuitive while living with diabetes, due to everything that needs to be scheduled or measured for good diabetes management. So much so, that most people who live with type 1 diabetes tend to be a little obsessive-compulsive in nature due to managing diabetes for so long.

Trauma severity is based off one's flexibility to change course. Put your health needs first over your or others wants. If someone is upset that you are taking care of your diabetes, it is not your problem but theirs. 

Planning Ahead
In my practice where I coach people about how to handle these mini-traumas, one of the things I tell them is the importance of planning ahead. Planning for the distraction that create micro-traumas, can help a person avoid the negative and self-punitive impact they have.  

When planning, ahead make sure you leave extra time on your schedule, like adding 15 to 30 minutes extra in your morning routine. That way if you do have a low blood sugar you have the time to deal with it and will still be on time for work. 

Aside from adding extra time, you could also make sure to pack ahead of time. Have a bag with everything you need (BGM, Glucose tablets, insulin, syringes, etc.) prepacked. Then you can walk out the door and not worry if you forgot something. 

Lastly, make sure that you have backups of everything. Having a bottle of insulin and syringes, can avoid having to stop what you are doing and go home if your pump fails. 

So having extra-time, backup equipment and everything you need in one spot will not only reduce the quantity of Micro-Trauma, but reduce your stress. 

Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist, diabetes-coach, presenter, and writer. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. 

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Depression and Diabetes