Many people go through times when hopelessness takes them hostage. Drudgery and hardship engulf them on a daily basis. Suicidal thoughts start creeping in. The only relief they can imagine is ending their life, quickly. They feel they can no longer bear their imprisonment. Their mind drifts to family and friends; to the pain their suicide may cause. The question becomes, should they continue to live in pain and hopelessness? Or do they commit suicide and create unbearable pain for their loved ones?
We all need to acknowledge that having diabetes makes you more susceptible to depression. If you compound this with a genetic disposition to depression, then your risk for depression is even higher. If you add a thyroid disorder, the tri-factor, to diabetes and depression, then you definitely need to guard depression, which can lead to suicide.
Some of you have read my articles about being a caretaker for my mother. At one point, she had all the classic physical and emotional symptoms of depression. In my younger years, I saw a correlation between my mother’s blood sugars and her willingness to care for her diabetes. At the same time, I was completely blind to her depression and how it impacted her condition. It wasn’t until a close friend who was also a nurse educator said, “Nadia, your mother is clinically depressed” that I began to investigate depression further.
Sure, I understood that when your blood sugars are high, you don’t feel well. But what does “clinically depressed” mean? As I came to learn, there are many symptoms. The ones my mother displayed were lethargy, hopelessness, and low self-esteem. She perceived herself as bad and incapable, and this resulted in an inability to manage her mood swings from diabetes. Add to all this a hypothyroid disorder and a family history of depression, my mom never felt like she could get on top of her health. She also stopped doing the things that gave her joy.
Thanks to the nurse educator’s feedback, I had my mother ask her physician for antidepressants. Two weeks after beginning her prescription, her perception of life started changing. Participation in family events allowed her to find joy as a grandmother. The depression was under control. However, her blood sugar fluctuations still impacted her mental health and the quality of her life. This led to her demise, complications and early death.
As brilliant as my mother was, she refused to accept that her blood sugar did in fact control her life and relationships. Her fluctuating blood sugars rendered her unable to edit her thoughts and her words. Consequently, she said and did things that made her social circle smaller. She started alienating people.
Recently, I picked up several books that have helped me see how destructive our thoughts can be. The theory is that our thoughts are meaningless without the emotions we attach to them. But just because you have a feeling, such as sadness, doesn’t mean the thought that feeling is connected to is true, or even that you have to stay feeling that way. It just means that sadness is what you are feeling in this particular moment. But maybe the meaning you give to that feeling is false! If you can understand and accept this, you can start to see your suffering through different eyes.
If you continue to pile on negative thoughts and feelings, it’s impossible to feel good and hopeful. Highs and lows from blood sugar swings, depression, and thyroid disorder can make you feel lethargic, unmotivated and hopeless about the future. But what is even more damaging is to overlook the fact that your feelings are a result of biochemical imbalance, and to believe all the thoughts you generate about what your feelings mean. If you insist on believing the painful thoughts, you will never know how differently you can feel!
So don’t give up! Do not give into depression or suicidal thoughts. Remember, you couldn’t possibly be alone in your feelings. 7.6 million people experience depression ever year. Don’t you think a percentage of these people feel exactly the way you do? You deserve to be happy. If you have suicidal thoughts, please call this number: 1-800-273-8255. The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Once you call, expect to be connected to a professional. They will offer a reason to live, and help direct you to local resources.
As the publisher of diabeteshealth.com, I care about your mental health. Thank you for being courageous and honest in the comment section for article # 212. Please know that you are not alone.
Here are some facts from the National Institutes of Health about depression and suicide, which may help if and when symptoms arise: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml.