Thursday, February 16, 2012

That’s What Friends Are For

Depression is an insidious thing.  It creeps into our lives like a dark mist that slowly blocks out the sun.  We’ve all experienced depression at some time in our lives.  Some of us are more prone to suffer from it than others.  Some of us are clinically depressed and need help to get through it.  Depression is something that is often not discussed due to the way society can sometimes react and yet, when we open up about how we’re feeling, we often feel better.  When a chronic illness is added to the mix, depression becomes an even larger obstacle.

Depression is something that definitely runs in my family.  I think I get “down” more often than some and developing diabetes certainly didn’t help.  I can be bopping along through my day feeling good and then I get an unexpected high glucose reading which can start me in a spiral.  “I know that meal shouldn’t have spiked my glucose!  WTF! I’ll never get this.  Sigh.”  It also depends on my general mood at the time.  Sometimes I can shrug it off and move on, other times I just get bummed about it.

I take care of my 93 year old mother.  She still lives alone even though she shouldn’t but there isn’t another viable option.  So I go see her every day to do chores and then I read to her.  My mother is very depressed.  Her knees are bad so she’s in a wheelchair most of the time.  She has macular degeneration so she can no longer read.  Listening to TV is her world; how depressing is THAT?  She plods through her days feeling sad.  It’s reached the point where I can rarely help her feel better.  I used to be able to make her laugh but even that is getting harder and harder to do.  I give her suggestions on things she could do with her day but she just doesn’t do them.  Short of moving in and making her do things, there’s not much else I can do (yes, she takes an anti-depressant).  That brings me to the part about depression that is key: dealing with depression is something that we have to do for ourselves.  No one can make us feel better.  We do have options, however.

In my opinion, the best weapon we have against depression is sharing.  The best thing we can do when we’re depressed is to talk to someone about how we’re feeling.  It helps if that person understands the underlying problem that is causing the depression but just talking helps.  Many years ago I was living in a situation that was causing me untold amounts of unhappiness.  My employer gave us an option to talk with a counselor for a few sessions at no cost so I decided to take advantage of that.  I think I had 4 sessions with a very nice woman who basically listened to me talk.  She never told me anything that I didn’t already know but it didn’t matter.  Talking it out with someone gave me perspective and allowed me to feel better about my situation.  Talking with her let me see clearly why I felt the way I did and gave me insight into ways that I could make some changes.  It helped.

The DSMA February Blog Carnival asks us to talk about ways we can help stop depression from hitting the diabetic community.  I don’t think we can stop it but I think we can attempt to lessen the severity.  PWD need to be encouraged to talk about their feelings.  PWD need to hear from others that they aren’t alone, that there are others out there who know what they’re going through.  Physicians need to include counseling as part of the treatment plan when someone is diagnosed with diabetes, any type.  The DOC is an excellent place to get that support but it’s not the only option.  There are many people who either don’t choose to use the internet or don’t have an option.  Maybe they’re older.  Maybe they don’t have the money to afford a computer and internet connection.  Those people need to be encouraged to find a D buddy or attend a support group.  The emotional side of dealing with diabetes has been ignored for too long.  Those of us who understand that need to step up and do something about it.  I intend to speak with my doctor during my next visit to see just what my clinic is doing about this topic, if anything, and encourage her to see what she can do to help.  It’s a small thing, but we have to start somewhere.

My final thought on this subject is hope.  Each of us needs to understand that our situation is not hopeless.  We can live wonderful lives with diabetes.  We aren’t doomed. We have tools to keep the possible health problems at bay.  We have some control but we need to take it.  We need to remember that there is hope, there is always hope, so don’t despair.

“Keep smilin', keep shinin'
Knowin' you can always count on me, for sure
That's what friends are for
For good times and bad times
I'll be on your side forever more
That's what friends are for"
By Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager

 This post is my February entry in the DSMA Blog Carnival.  If you’d like to participate too, you can get all of the information at


  1. Great observations about depression, Kate. I agree that it's hard for anyone to help us when we are depressed if we aren't ready to help ourselves. And I agree that talking about this issue can help a lot!

  2. Wonderful post, Kate.

    I've lived with depression for 20 years and I've never been too shy or concerned to talk about it. I speak when I need help, I speak when I think other people need help.


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