Having a Positive Mental Attitude: It Matters in Type 1

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the elephant in the room nowadays seems to be the fact that mental health comes to into play for almost every school shooting and suicide, and so many other tragic life events. Why can’t we prevent them? During my blogging of the bionic pancreas series, back in 2013 I talked about how living with diabetes is often silent. Why?

We don’t look sick. People with type 1 diabetes live successful lives for decades—yet we are our own doctors, making the dosing decisions and monitoring the minute by minute fluctuations. We tackle hundreds of choices a day and obsess about measuring our food, remembering our supplies, and worrying about the “what ifs.” This week on Glu, you all shared your comments to our Question of the Day about if what you didn’t have to worry about your diabetes, what would you do differently? A lot of the comments really struck home for us.

“It doesn’t bother me to take insulin or to check my blood, but the worries associated with the huge ‘WHAT IF’ that constantly sits on our shoulders, watching literally every action we take, would be gone, and that mental block being taken away would be so helpful. Also, in a physical sense, not having a bad low that causes me to be less productive, whether through missing work or coming home and going directly to bed on those days. I would go on road trips and also be able to take the food out of my purse.”

One of the best acronyms I’ve learned throughout my long diabetes tenure is PMA (positive mental attitude). Keeping this mindset throughout my life has been so important. I try not to use a high blood sugar or a low one as a reflection of my efforts or strength, I surround myself by encouraging peers, and look back on all I have accomplished while living with diabetes to motivate my self-management to stay in drive.

If you want to change a behavior, think about what that means and talk to someone. Seeing a professional, writing in a journal, talking to the shower head, or asking a friend to just listen—not even having them respond, is sometimes all you need to jumpstart a change in an old habit. Keep your head held high and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Think about what you are afraid of and what can you do to address it. Discussing it is usually the first step, and people are apt to listen and help more than you might imagine. A while back in one of our articles we discussed setting goals. Whenever I feel I’ve had a rough day, or someone in my family has, I try to set a small realistic goal for myself to assist getting through the rough patch. Diabetes will run its course the way it wants, we just have to cheer it on and race along with it.

We are in this journey together, and together as one, but we can’t continue to fight this fight without you and your voice. We’re working on new initiatives for people living with type 1 in the mental health space including this one with the ADA, and we’ll be reporting out soon as we launch these new programs.

Anna Floreen–GluAnna

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