- Try not to “anticipate” – just because something has happened in the past does not necessarily mean it will happen this time … I try hard to live in the present moment and judge situations for what they are.
- Actively gather information from people who know what they are talking about – for me, knowledge is power, and it helps quell my anxiety (about my husband’s lows, or his risks for complications for example) if I know what I can expect to happen… asking people I trust (my husband’s physician or other people I know with diabetes) helps me to feel prepared “in the event of” - of course I recognize that things may always change, but at least I know what is likely to happen in most instances
- Come up with tools or things to make sure you are prepared – I try to be active in my coping ...making sure we always have juice in the house for lows, or that I know exactly where the glucagon is (even though we’ve never had to use it!). In this way I know that if these things are needed, we’re covered, and I can relax just a bit.
- Remember that you’re not alone in this – when things get too much sometimes, it helps me to remember that there are others out there who understand my situation, and who are facing the same things every day. All I have to do is seek these people out (by connecting with friends or finding groups online), and I’ll find people who really “get it”. Hearing other peoples’ stories about their loved ones with diabetes always put my own into perspective.
- Try to be kind to yourself and have some understanding of any “knee-jerk” anxiety around your loved one’s diabetes – it is not easy to constantly feel “on guard” around my loved one’s health, especially when it is related to a past negative event (e.g., a near-miss while driving, a midnight call to 911). However, I take responsibility for my own anxiety and try to separate out the “rational” from the “irrational” worry about his diabetes that I may feel on any given day. It’s my responsibility not to bring baggage into our daily relationship. He doesn’t need one more thing to have to manage!
- Try to work out better ways of responding – someone once told me if something wasn’t working, to try doing the opposite to see what would happen. For me it’s been the same with my reactions to my husband’s diabetes – sometimes when I feel the most anxious about a situation or his response to it (or lack thereof!), I try to be the most calm, the most objective… and it often works to stop my anxiety in its tracks! I feel more empowered, and it also seems to make the situation better… go figure!
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
What’s the one thing that all of us who are partnered with someone with diabetes have in common? We are all anxious. It varies by degree, but it is a common strain that runs beneath many a calm, functional exterior. It can be related to fear of lows, anxiety around complications or co-existing medical problems, fear of the future, or the biggie, death of our loved one. Since my husband was diagnosed with type 1 in 1997, I have felt the omnipresent sense of worry that stays with me day-in and day-out. Sometimes the worry is very specific (“he’s driving home – is he low?”), sometimes more generalized (“I can’t reach him … what's happened?!”), but it is always there. After 12 years it doesn’t bother me as much anymore – and I have learned some important ways of dealing with this unique form of “diabetes-anxiety”... they include the following: