By Virginia Kennedy, RN, BSN
Is your glass half full or half empty? This is a phrase often used to measure our outlook on life. Each of us is so very different in how we deal with the stresses or complexities of life. We are products of our environments, our family/work life and the myriad of happenings that occur in our lives on a daily basis. Our mood for the day may be determined by the driver who abruptly pulls in front of us, the clerk who ignores you and continues with a personal phone call, or a loved one that places a secret note in your lunch sack saying I love you.
So what happens when we or someone we love receives a devastating diagnosis of a chronic health problem? Whether it is heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes or Alzheimer's, the emotional blow can be as damaging as the physical aspects of the disease. Sometimes a person gets plunged into a deep depression losing the will to survive or fight the disease. So the question is…how do I know if I am depressed or how can I help change my outlook or soften the emotional blow I have been dealt?
Attitude is everything.
I read a very short excerpt once from a book about relationships between mothers and daughters. A mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer and after a mastectomy she had chemotherapy. Every time she went for a chemo treatment, she always wore red shoes. When asked why, she said "How can anyone feel badly when wearing red shoes!" When she passed away, her daughter asked everyone to wear red shoes to her funeral as a tribute to her mother's indomitable spirit. I think this is a wonderful example of a positive attitude, the old adage of when "life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
So if life seems to be a bit overwhelming or you have experienced multiple changes that have sent you reeling, it may be necessary to assess your emotional well-being. The American Diabetes Association has several articles on their web site that address depression or anxiety and how it relates to diabetes. Dealing with diabetes on a daily basis can be frustrating and anxiety laden. This can cause depression that can lead to poor choices in diet, exercise or medication regimens. According to the American Diabetes Association, people who have diabetes are at greater risk of developing depression. Signs or symptoms of depression are:
- A general loss of interest in life and activities of daily living
- Feelings of hopelessness or extreme sadness
- Trouble concentrating
- Loss of energy
- A change in sleep patterns
- A change in appetite
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Thoughts of self harm
Some self-help methods that may help to pull you out of the doldrums are:
Dig out those old sitcoms that make you belly laugh… I Love Lucy, Frasier, Cheers or whatever appeals to you. Laughter is good medicine for the soul. Laughter boosts endorphins, neurotransmitters and anti-body producing cells that not only make us feel better but strengthen our immune system.
Exercise - Most everyone is aware of the naturally occurring endorphins (sometimes known as a runner's high or Mother Nature's drug of choice) that occur when we engage in physical exercise. There are many forms of exercise such as playing the drums, basketball, swimming, gardening, and walking. Find something you love to do and then you will be more inclined to feel good about time spent doing that activity.
Connect to love ones - Reaching out to family and friends and engaging in social activities, releases endorphins that make us feel safe, secure and contented. Hugs simply make us feel better, as do smiles.
Take time to smell the flowers! In our technology laden world, it is sometimes difficult to slow down, enjoy our family and friends and reflect on just what is right in our lives.
If symptoms persist, it may be necessary to visit with your doctor about medications or therapy from professionals that can assist you in recovering from depression. It is absolutely necessary to reverse the downward spiral in order to regain a healthy outlook on life.
So pour yourself a glass of water and ask yourself….Is my glass half full or half empty? For me the glass is always half full through my rose-colored glasses!
About the author:
Virginia Kennedy is a registered nurse and diabetes educator at Seton Diabetes Education Center. She has 30 years experience in perinatal nursing and gestational diabetes before shifting her focus to diabetes education and diabetes prevention. Virginia works with all aspects of diabetes and regularly teaches diabetes education classes for gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes and sees persons with type 1 diabetes. If you would like more information on the diabetes education services at Seton Diabetes Education Center, please call (512) 324-1891.
Seton Diabetes Education Center provides a full range of diabetes education classes and support seminars. Check out our website at www.seton.net/diabetes. Our next diabetes support group will be on June 6, 2012 and will cover strategies to shop smart with diabetes.