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R U OK?

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Seeing as today is R U OK day and I’m far from feeling ok after a terrible night’s sleep, I thought it would be nice to talk about the mental side of diabetes. (Get it…mental? haha…I’m terrible I know) Seriously though, emotional health of those with diabetes, I feel have been something that’s been sitting on the sidelines and almost taboo at times. Most days, to most people, it’s all about the numbers. How often do people actually ask how you’re going, how you’re feeling. Maybe we only report the numbers to them because that’s what they know or vaguely understand. Others without diabetes may try to comprehend the physical effects of being high or low. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though.

Often I get frustrated when I get low or high. Especially if they appear out of nowhere. And if you can explain them, I end up feeling ridiculously guilty for not bolusing properly or not eating enough. Yet, since I’m on a mission to lose some extra kilos, I get guilty if I DO eat more or if I feel like I DO need that extra insulin to keep my sugar levels in check. Catch 22 – what do I do? Eat, bolus, work extra hard at the gym later. (Then when I hypo at the gym and shove more lollies in my mouth I just feel like that was the most unproductive gym workout session ever! Good one. Diabetes 2 vs Me 0)

And then you get the overnight lows. Not only do you have to deal with stumbling out of bed to treat your low (and trying not to trip over things strewn on my bedroom floor or walking into door frames, or using the wrong type of milk because you don’t have your glasses on), your quality of sleep is affected. I don’t know about others but I am a freaking zombie in the mornings usually. It only takes one night of bad sleep to ruin my routine for a while too.

I guess my point is that, things aren’t always as easy as they seem. We may sometimes make our lives seem effortless, other days it’s quite obvious (zombie mornings particulary – it’s like you without your morning coffee!). But all we need is a cuddle, a shoulder to cry on or just some space – no questions asked. This applies not just to people living with diabetes or chronic illness. It goes for EVERYONE! It’s too easy to take things and people at face value without considering why they are the way they are, are they normally like this. A simple smile and cheerful greeting could be all it takes to cheer someone up, or improve it a little at least. Something that stuck with me during my swim teaching days was the knowledge that the kids only see you for half an hour a week. They will want to look forward to going to a happy, fun class with an enthusiastic teacher. They could’ve had a crappy week at home or school. You’ll never know. But you could make a difference to their week by giving them something to look forward to and enjoy. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a terrible day, it’s all about them for that half hour. And seeing them laugh and enjoy themselves is contagious and is the best reward you could possibly receive back. Sometimes it makes you forget your own terrible day! I’d like to think I made a difference to some kids and people I see, just by being friendly, giving them a smile and asking them how their day is going.

Over the last few days, Diabetes Australia – Victoria have been promoting a new online tool to check your emotional health calling Minding Diabetes. Firstly, the website in itself is the coolest/cutest thing I have ever come across. It’s not just your typical website that brings you to different pages as you progress through a quiz on diabetes and you. But it follows this hot air balloon and actually navigates UP the website to the next frame. Such a novel AND useful website! At the end of the quiz, it doesn’t just tell you how you did. It provides more information on each point and advice and tips on how to talk to someone, suggestions as to where to find more support, online support groups and a great little link to Diabetes Counselling Online. It just such a great website with so many additional resources! I had a play with it yesterday and I’m absolutely loving it.

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Pancreatically challenged, diabetes advocate, PhD student and dietitian - working to positive changes within the diabetes community and healthcare setting. Although diagnosed at age of 19 with T2DM, the type of diabetes I have is under constant debate. Finally pumping as of March 2014.

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