Join Isabel Romero as she shares her journey in health, fitness and mental wellness. Her goal is to serve as an inspiration to others by helping all her readers achieve their personal best.
And I asked her, “How did you survive the death of a child? How did you get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other?”. “I saw two roads I could go down; one of depression and sadness, the other of a life lived to the fullest, just as daughter, Kara, would want me to. I chose to live”, she answered.
My Mother is a warrior. Each morning, she faces life with the strength of a lion and the positive energy of the sun. Her energy is radiant and spreads to everyone who meets her. My Father has the same strength. He attacks each day as if it is his last. At age 74, he has opened a new medical practice, continuing his passion to save lives.
I, on the other hand, suffer from sadness. My inner child is one of happiness and optimism. My family always called me “Sunshine” as a child. I woke up smiling, not a care in the world. That happiness was challenged when the tragedy of death, divorce and diabetes hit me all in the same year when I was 17 years old.
Inside my brain:
Days can go by now when the sky seems so dark. I know the sun is shining, but all I see are clouds. My bed keeps calling me in, luring me into darkness to hide for awhile longer. My brain creates infinite circles of negative talk. My purpose in life seems vague and intangible. Everything that was once in my heart feels empty. I am dead inside. The slight criticism, even constructive, from another, will push me over the edge- spiraling into a crying spell. “What’s wrong, Mommy?”, my precious, sensitive Alex will ask. What do I say? How could I explain? What I want to say is, “It’s not your fault, sweet baby boy. This is strictly chemical. This will pass and the fun, dancing mommy will be back. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s my brain, not my heart that is hurting.”
My heart is full. I am complete. I have everyone I love surrounding me with support and love. My husband works like crazy to keep me healthy and strong. He commits every moment to loving me. My kids are healthy and beautiful, my parents, strong and supportive. Friends are on every corner of the earth, and I know they love me unconditionally.
But NONE of this matters when the evils of depression wreak havoc on your thoughts, impeding all of the plans you listed on your to-do list the day before.
I am not alone. Diabetes and Depression is prevalent. “Studies indicate that people with diabetes may be four times as likely to become depressed as people without diabetes”.
Diabetes Information & Resources » Managing Diabetes » Diabetes and Depression
You may not know it because everyday we have to function in order to live. We are forced to get up, take a drug to stay alive, and eat so we don’t kill ourselves in the process of fighting to live. We are excellent actors, faking it til we’re making it.
But our brains are different. The constant flux in blood sugar levels and insulin amounts directly impacts our brains. Dopamine and Serotonin are all related in production to insulin and blood sugar levels. So imagine the roller coaster our bodies endure day after day, high and low. We are up-physically, emotionally, then we come crashing down.
“The co-occurrence of depression in diabetes is attributed to a variety of factors, including the psychological and psychosocial impact of the disease, a potential common genetic susceptibility and common pathophysiological abnormalities involving neuroimmunological and neuro endocrinical pathways ,as well a microvascular brain lesions due to diabetes mellitus.”
Hippokratia. 2012 Jul-Sep; 16(3): 205–214.
So, what do we do with this comorbidity? How do we treat both diseases? I’ll share with you what has worked for me.
To begin, I had to be honest and aware that I was dealing with DEPRESSION. To me, it seemed like such a stigma, a failure, especially with my overly productive and positive parents. What finally convinced me to take ownership of my health and emotions is what my mom said, “It CHEMICAL”. That helped me to accept this imbalance. After all, my life is good. I am healthy, relatively, I have all of my needs met. There is no reason that is acceptable to me that I should hide in bed and hate myself. It’s a direct relation. Blood sugars go up>Happiness goes down. Blood sugars drop>confusion occurs, which just makes it all more overwhelming and disorganized. Chemistry is not the only solution, although an important one.
I absolutely believe that in order to achieve basic happiness, there are four weekly needs that need to be met for ALL human beings, diabetic or not.
1). Physical: As discussed before, we all need to be chemically balanced: Our blood sugars, our brain, even our PH. Just as a plant will die if it is too acidic, we too will suffer. If medication is needed, start there. Then balance your body through fruits and vegetables, electrolytes and exercise.
2). Emotional: We are evolved to need connection and support. Each week, we need to incorporate emotional connections with the people and places we love. If you are not a “people person”, you get your emotional fulfillment other ways. You might get yours from a special place that brings you peace, a book, a park and song. Make time for this. Schedule it in like a meeting.
3). Intellectual: This is a basic need that many of us take for granted. We aren’t aware of the lack of intellectual stimulation we suffer from. We think because we work, we are constantly using our brains. But work isn’t enough. I absolutely believe that when we cease to learn we cease to live. Our brains become dead inside. I believe this greatly contributes to dementia later in life. How many people do you know who, once they retire, their memory starts to fade? These individuals never developed a source of learning outside our their work.
4). Finally, my favorite, Spiritual connection: We all have a desire and basic need to be part of something greater than ourselves. Some of us connect with our God, Our Savior. Others may have their connection with Mother Earth. How depressing can life be if we feel out of control, and we feel all alone! Believing in something, someone stronger and more faithful can help us to feel safe and secure.
My hope for this blog is that I impact at least one person to seek help…to be honest with herself/himself and those he/she loves. Do not hide. This is a common comorbidity. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Until next time, In Health, Meg