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January 14, 2021

Living With Chronic Disease and Surviving Its Depression

I am a diabetic. I have been one officially for just over a year now. It was part of the gift I received while carrying and bringing my son into the world.

It was a high risk pregnancy, obviously. The day he was born, as they ripped him from my dark, warm, snug womb, he started to bellow his dislike and discomfort around this idea. This was an exceptional sound to hear after months of worrying about premature birth! I smiled so much that while stitching me back together my gynae asked if she could have a bit of whatever I was having?

Fast forward to today, remnants of the experience have been left with me in the form of a serious, chronic illness. I will carry this cross bravely while looking at my two beautiful children with gratitude. It should act as a daily reminder that I really don’t want to be pregnant ever again!

In my pre-marriage and pre-children years, I was quite unintentionally silly with my lack of understanding. “Hey Mom! Let’s invite Granny for dinner. I will make my infamous mac and cheese, she will love it!” My mom had reminded me that Granny cannot really eat pasta because of her diabetes. “No man, she can just take her medication and she will be fine!” Yup, Karma can feel like a bitch and Murphy has a pretty weird sense of humour!

The doctor we see for general things such as flu and strep throat is an older Chinese man. We do not go very often, I am not great with medication and will only go when I am in a dance with death, who when very sick looks real pretty in her black frock! I have been twice since being diagnosed, both times for the children, and he severely warned me about how dangerous this disease can be, almost reprimanding me! As a result, both times I have left his medical rooms turning down the candy sucker he has offered me at the end, almost ripping those sticks of sugar from my children’s eager mouths, fearing sugar could literally be the devil himself!

Despite not fully realizing how severe this disease could be, no one warned me about the depression it comes with. Diabetes is certainly not like having cancer, but when the reality sets in it sure feels like it could be. The meds had unfavorable side effects, injecting insulin made me aggressive. I took myself off the medication, determined to do this on diet alone!

One day after eating half of a toasted samie, I used to love those, I was shouting at my colleague over something trivial and was reprimanded by management. I took my blood sugar and it was really high because of the carbs I had eaten. I had to go back, apologize and explain what diabetic rage was, not having ever experienced it before that moment. I cried that day, I was out of control and it wasn’t really my fault.

I had to say goodbye to a lot of food favorites, not only were they making me “angry”, they were also causing damage to my organs with my lack of natural insulin production. I once made a diabetic friendly apple pie, well I thought it was before I ate it. I was having a conversation with my mother-in-law and fell asleep during our chat. When I woke she asked me if my blood sugar had been high? No more fruit pies for me then! No wonder depression with chronic disease is actually a thing.

There is a lot of misconception around chronic disease. I have read it comes from a chronic need to please people, which quite sadly makes sense in my case. It is not as easy as taking your meds and carrying on, chronic disease is life altering. It makes us victims before we learn how to become survivors. We should all try rather practicing kindness, everyone is battling through “stuff” that others might not understand. And we should choose to come from a place of understanding , we were all ignorant once.

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