Mental Health Month

Diabetes SeriousMay is Mental Health Month, and  I have been stuck on this thought all day today. In a reminiscent moment, I googled the story of Daniel Von Bargen who is an American actor who was on the sitcom Seinfeld. In February of 2012 he attempted suicide, with the 911 call having been released to the public, it’s a 10 minute excruciating listen that very clearly paints a picture of ultimate despair stemming from the complications of diabetes.

The morning he tried to take his own life he should have been leaving for the hospital to get the majority of his toes amputated.  He had already been through a complete leg amputation, and in the call he admittedly is not a “good diabetic.”  Through my tears, my mind raced, how could someone fall so deep into desperation that taking your own life is the better solution, instead of taking care of yourself from the get go.  I began to research the complications that a non vigilant life coupled with Type 1 Diabetes could amount to.  From Kidney Disease and failure to Blindness, the complications seemed endless.

In our training we briefly went over what complications could arise from not managing this disease properly, but I honestly had no idea the severity.  The depression that could most certainly mount seems unequivocally daunting.  Having listened to this 911 call back on March of 2012, when I was 7.5 months pregnant with Carter, it was sad to me, but not as agonizing as it was for me today.  I am now fully aware what managing diabetes means, I understand being tired and frustrated and feeling completely burned out.  My heart breaks for people who fall into despair and feel they have no other way then out.  Looking into all of this will prayerfully allow me to find ways to communicate with Carter in an effort to spare him some of these feelings.

I believe we, as a diabetic community, forcing ourselves to search for the light in the darkest tunnel in an effort to save our sanity, that we don’t focus enough attention on the depression many suffer through.  Life with diabetes is not easy, it’s not envied, it is not coveted, it is a definite burden that is manageable, but frustrating and exhausting.  I completely understand the focus on the positive, as a mother to a T1 toddler, it’s all we have in the midst of the sadness and the anguish, we have to focus on something other then the affliction that haunts us and our children everyday.  But lest we not forget those who are fighting alone and suffer from a depression they are ashamed of.  The end of Daniel Von Bargen’s story is one of hope, he survived, and hopefully made some changes in order to live the remainder of his days not in desperation of an escape but enjoying the things that life does have to offer, especially to those who live with diabetes.

I am strongly convicted to embrace the depression that walks hand in hand with many who are managing diabetes daily.  Finding ways to encourage and commend those who are up and fighting on the front lines of the battle field is so important.  I will be my son’s biggest supporter and encourager.  I hope and pray that my families support is enough to get him through the toughest times, especially with the guarantee that no matter what he is going through we are here to support and carry him through whatever he is going through.

Throughout the remainder of this month, lets give the credit that is due to the astonishing group called Type 1 Diabetics who are the most extraordinary, astounding, and bravest group of people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

5 thoughts on “Mental Health Month”

  1. Thank you for this! I am an adult Type 1 who has lived with this [sometimes] unbearable disease for more than 30 years. Like Mr. Van Bargen, I too, faced deep depression while in my early 20’s that stemmed from my battle with diabetes. As someone who has lived through it, I can honestly say that the hand we Type 1 Diabetics have been dealt can be excruciatingly painful! However, with the support of our friends, family, and the entire T1 community, we will get through the devastation and thrive!
    Thank you for bringing this to the attention of so many who just aren’t truly aware of how this disease affects us on an emotional level. Staying healthy with T1D is not limited to BG tests, carb counting, insulin injections, CGMs, pumps, and KetoStix…our frames of mind play and integral part in our overall health!

    1. Johanna,
      Thank you for sharing your story! This is a subject that is so dear to my heart, as being a non-diabetic, but a caregiver, I feel I struggle with depression. I can’t imagine living and managing it. You are an inspiration, and I am continually awes struck by type 1 diabetics, your life experience is invaluable. 🙂

  2. Don’t forget…the despair doesn’t always come from the frustration and difficulties that having diabetes comes with. Diabetics are just generally more susceptible to major depression. I’m glad my mom noticed early that there was something wrong, even before I did. I imagine there are a lot of teens and adults who don’t realize that the hormones in their bodies are more likely to become off kilter because they have this disease. Not all diabetics will have a lifelong battle with depression but many of us will…and there is hope and treatment and help. You just need to ask for it!

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