Diabetes and mindset....

Vanessa here! Hope everyone had a great Easter, and yes I and Georgia both had an Easter egg on the day (or two!), as we all deserve a treat, even us diabetics! So today I have been battling a couple of high blood glucose readings (humph!) for no apparent reason. Now, unfortunately this is the case for all of us diabetics…… we will always have periods of unwanted highs, lows and readings resembling rollercoaster rides! This could be due to a number of reasons based on my personal experience:

  1. Stress: From my experience, especially around exams or when I am late for work, the blood glucose readings sore!
  2. Illness: An illness causes my blood glucose readings to rise, especially infections or the flu.
  3. Time of the month (females): Change in hormone levels (Males are lucky in this sense!)
  4. Early mornings: Linked in with the dreaded ‘Dawn effect’, in the morning our blood glucose levels have the tendency to rise upon waking, due to the excess release of cortisol, which basically sets our body up to successfully wake up (cortisol is the same hormone released during periods of stress)
  5. Exercise: Excess release of adrenaline and cortisol (dependent on the individual….cardio makes my blood glucose shoot up)
  6. The unknown……: Yes! Sometimes they rise with no explanation, but always remember insulin can be faulty or out of date so always check this

Either way, let’s face it, our diabetes control is never going to resemble a ruler (this isn’t even the case for non-diabetic individuals!), and anyone who says their blood glucose level is consistently between 4-8mmol is more than likely lying. Take me for example, my last Hba1c was 41 (5.9), but there are plenty of times my blood glucose level hits the 20’s, and I am in no way ashamed to say that, as most of the time it is due to the reasons listed above….

  But one thing I have learnt to control is my overall mind-set towards my diabetes, basically my thoughts towards my condition and how it effects my life. For many of us, we go through a number of stages mentally regarding our diabetes. One example is:


 So for a lot of us, at first we feel in denial about our diabetes, especially after diagnosis. Coming to terms with a complete lifestyle change and having to administer shots of insulin/wear a pump, along with checking our blood glucose levels consistently (we deserve a medal!). I have then seen (me included) a lot of people becoming in denial, especially adolescents, meaning that they ignore their condition as if they don’t even have it. However, a mind-set like this will more than likely come back to bite you in the bum. Take me for example….. I was in denial and then BOOM…..diagnosed with retinopathy and maculopathy (eye conditions). This was the wakeup call I needed to then accept my condition and start to look after myself. But even when we accept our diabetes, unfortunately there may be times were we revert back to becoming in denial, more than likely linking back to what I spoke about earlier, unexplained highs or even lows! I used to be one of them. I would have perfect (not 100% perfect) blood glucose levels for a solid 2 weeks then BAM….. Unexplained highs would occur. So what I used to do was think “Oh what’s the point!” and basically fall off the band wagon, whereby it took a long time for me to get back on! As a behaviour change practitioner, the science behind this is that our ‘good’ behaviour (eating well, checking blood glucose levels, injecting correctly etc.) is reinforced by good blood glucose readings, meaning we are more likely to continue to participate in these healthy behaviours. However, when our ‘good’ behaviour is followed by high blood glucose reading (or low!), this causes our good behaviour to be punished, meaning it is less likely to reoccur in the future. The same principle applies to people who are trying to lose weight, they eat well, exercise and all it takes is one increased number on the scales to make them slip straight back into old habits. So it is altering the way we mentally handle these situations…

  So, what I have now managed to do is alter my mind-set, so that rather than being stuck in a never ending circle of denial and acceptance, I have learnt to continuously accept my condition. So now, every time I have a bout of uncontrollable blood glucose levels, I have learnt to:

  • Accept that I will have high blood glucose levels that may be out of my control
  • Remember that nobody has perfect control
  • Learn not to beat myself up about it if I accidentally don’t give enough insulin or overcorrect
  • Accept that as long as I have done everything right (injected, tested blood glucose levels, made good food choices), that is all that matters
  • Remember that us diabetics (especially via social media and forums) are all in this together and we are certainly not alone
  • Worry less and live more!

  It is also important to know that bouts of high blood glucose levels will usually only last a short period of time, so don’t let this make you slip back into old habits. Keep telling yourself this too. What I think is also extremely important is having the ability to rant! Contact another diabetic or get in touch with myself and Georgia (The Fit Diabetics) and have a good rant, this always helps me J

  Overall, the reason for me writing this blog was because I wanted to get the message out to people that having a positive mind-set with diabetes is extremely important, not just for our physical health, but our mental health too. Once people learn to accept their condition and prepare themselves for unexplained occurrences with their diabetes, it makes living with the condition physically, mentally and emotionally a lot easier.

Vanessa x

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