Friday, August 28, 2015

Depression and Diabetes

I thought I'd take a different tack on what many have addressed in the recent past.
I'm not talking about Diabetes Burnout, though that is a very real thing and I have experienced that as well over my last 40+ years with type 1 diabetes.

No, what I want to discuss/ponder about is having chronic depression alongside
diabetes.  This is something I've never really talked about "publicly" until very
recently (the Diabetes Unconference 2015), so please bear with me...

I have had symptoms of depression as long as I can remember. It wasn't too bad
when I was a child (I think) though some centered around being the "different kid".
Four-eyed, pigeon-toed teacher's pet - is kind of a label and a half to grow up with,

          Four-eyed - glasses since age three-ish.
          Pigeon-toed - yep - toes pointed in all my life - years of ballet couldn't fix it.
                 Thought it was less noticeable until a past boyfriend mentioned that he
                 thought it was "undyingly cute" that my toes pointed in - really??!!!??
          Teacher's pet - because what else do you call a kid who gets special snacks
                 in the middle of the day, or "gets to" be carried to the nurses office in
                 a hurry when she's passing out? Lucky kid! How dare she?!

Yeah - so I wasn't the happiest kid, but the depression really kicked in around college. I took off - left New York State and landed in Boston - not knowing anyone, and determined to make it work. I recreated myself - made myself look people in the eye, talked boldly to people (while quaking in my sneakers), and even got a job in a very busy convenience store to facilitate that type of interaction.

Know what? It didn't stop my depression. I still felt all alone. I had met one other Type 1 there - in the city of Boston - yes - one other diabetic - and his treatment method was insulin and getting drunk every night on beer. We didn't talk much. I had roommates and didn't really have any friends I felt open enough to share my alone-ness with so I'd find corners - The cement quad by the co-op buildings at midnight - a short walk from the dorm at the time  -it was a great place to break down and cry until I felt I could get a grip on it.

When my roomie was out I'd sit on the windowsill and look down ten floors at the cement walkway and think thoughts, but I'd talk myself out of them every time. "How would Mom feel" was my go to mantra.

My Diabetes wasn't under the best care - three week-long visits to University Hospital - now renamed and grouped elsewhere - for DKA and Pyelo-nephritis and I finally got myself an endocrinologist. I liked him, but I'm not sure he knew what to do with me. I was ALWAYS the youngest patient in his office and I think the longest term T1D he'd seen. He left a lot of things to me that probably shouldn't have been.  Until a couple years ago I still had never heard of Joslin, just a few miles away from my college.

Depression was never a discussion. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Why isn't depression one of the topics our Endos bring up with us? No - not everyone with Diabetes suffers it, but I'm thinking with all we juggle every day, we experience on average a higher amount of stress and have more depression triggers than some others, so why not?

Why have none of the many therapists I've seen in the past ten years (yeah it took me a while to get on board) ever brought up Diabetes as a trigger?

I have a lot more I could say on this topic but this was all pretty overwhelming so I'll leave it at this:

                  Maybe the burning desire to do more about Diabetes in the world
                  is leading me to this - to recognition that Diabetes and Depression
                            are something that needs to be discussed and treated.

                                                       And maybe I will...