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Diabetes and Depression

Diabetes and Depression

Being diagnosed with diabetes might not seem like the end of the world, after you get used to the idea (let’s face it, for most of us it takes a long time, if ever). But little did you know there is another major issue waiting for you just around the corner, Depression. Now this may not happen to every diabetic out there but it definitely happened to me.
I was quite a chatty and loud child once I became comfortable with the company around me. I probably didn't have a filter and that was okay because which child does. My demeanor changed drastically once I was diagnosed with diabetes. It didn’t happen overnight but in the first few years of being diabetic my behavior started changing, and going through puberty at the same time certainly doesn’t make things any easier. I became more reserved and quiet. I lost the drive to be out and about, playing in the park or hanging out with my friends, both of the things I enjoyed previously. I was reclusive and wanted to spend time by myself, usually reading books or just being alone. It only got worse as I approached my teenage years. I mean we all know teenagers are moody and I was no different in that sense but I didn’t seem to care about much of anything. I had really strange thoughts and often thought of morbid scenarios. I wanted to be away from my friends and family. My parents apparently realized it before I did, I had developed depression. I guess dealing with diabetes and not really having great results made me melancholy. To the point where I would give up trying to get better at my numbers and diet.
Diabetes and Depression

So after taking to the doctor, I started seeing a psychiatrist. I would meet with her once every 2 weeks and we would talk about everything that was going on in my life. Sometimes these sessions helped alleviate the burden of feeling like I am stuck in my head but other times they seemed more of an annoyance. The therapist also recommended that I join a diabetes support group, but for some reason this never appealed to me as a teenager. I wasn't interested in meeting new people and having to deal with strangers judging me. Now I am sure these groups are great and have helped many people deal with diabetes and depression, but I was and probably still am very paranoid and apprehensive in having a new responsibility. I mean going to the see the doctor every 2 weeks was also a huge hassle and adjustment for me. I was pretty consistent for about a year with the appointments and going regularly but I felt that I could not connect to the doc and that we were on two different levels and we saw things from different perspectives.

So I opted for the medication route after that year was up. I changed therapists and was put on Zoloft. This time I didn’t have to go see the doc every 2 weeks unless I wanted to, so that was a plus. We had a tough time figuring out the dosage to the point where I was on 100mg a day, which is probably not a great thing. On top of that, the side effects and blinding headaches drove me nuts so we finally switched to Prozac and that seemed to work better. I felt better, took more of an interest in things I enjoyed before, was still an introvert but for the first time I was comfortable in my skin. Again, the change was gradual but not completely out of character. Mind you no one in my social circle knew I was on antidepressants and I took great pains to make sure that they never did (apart from immediate family). After a few years I began to hate being on meds, it made me feel emotionless and empty inside. But in some ways I felt it was better to feel nothing than to feel everything all the time. I got used to the feeling and eventually convinced myself that I was okay with it. I mean sure I am never going to be like other teens and I accepted that and moved on with life. I continued the meds and high school as if nothing changed.
I was on the meds for most of my young adult life. There came a point in college, I realized that it was not doing what it’s supposed to do. Between the added pressures of the family to do well, the heavy load of classes that I felt I had to take even though I knew I didn't want to, I felt more helpless and alone than I ever did. I eventually withdrew from my friends and my classes, usually towards the middle of the semester. The pressures became too much and I stopped caring about everything. My health first of all, the fact that I was wasting my time and money on classes and wanted to give up on college all together. I wanted to be the first of my siblings to graduate college and have the family be proud of me ever since high school, but at this point I didn't care about any of it.
The worst part was that no one knew what was going on with my mental state, not even my family. You see, I had become very good at hiding my true feeling and emotions to the point where I was lying to everyone, especially myself. During this time, I also became addicted to over the counter painkillers. I would take pain meds (Aleve, Motrin, Tylenol, etc.) to the maximum dosage allowed for the time frame. Gradually mixing the meds, so I would take one med to its max and an hour later another one to its max. In some sick way, it helped relieve the headaches and migraines I was experiencing. Fortunately for me, I did realize that I was getting hooked on these meds as if my life depended on them. I did start to wean myself off gradually, while talking to a doctor about my migraine issues as to get proper help (that’s a story for another day). I eventually had a rude awakening after my horror story (which I will share with you) and talked to my doctor about changing the dosage of the antidepressants to something stronger.
For the time being it worked out for me. It wouldn’t be until well into adulthood that I came to the realization that for most of my teen and young adult life I was acting to please others but not myself. I eventually got married and finally graduated college after who knows how long (and endless criticism from my family). During this time, I changed meds to Celexa and I felt it was working better; I wasn’t on such a high dosage which I liked. I had long talks with my husband about my mental state of mind our first several months of marriage and he was very understanding and accepting of my situation. This I think was a blessing for me, after years of either getting criticized by family or getting pitying looks I finally had someone in my life who genuinely cared and wanted to make things better. Not by saying oh poor you, but my saying okay that’s your reality how can we make it better. I appreciated the honesty and sincerity that he provided me with, here was someone who knew the crap I had and still chose to live with me and deal with it all.

Disclaimer: This is not meant as medical advice, just my personal experiences and how I dealt with them. If you have any medical issues, or think you may have depression please seek help for a medical professional.

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