My Photo
Name:
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in April of 1980. I recognize the incredible mental struggle of living with diabetes. I hope to share my struggles, my successes, and everything in between.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bloodsugars and Moods

I recently finished reading "Psyching Out Diabetes" by Dr. Richard Rubin, June Biermann & Barbara Toohey (June & Barbara have TONS of books out there on diabetes - you probably know them, even if you don't realize it yet). The book was a quick and easy read, and I would encourage you to check it out if the title rings any interest for you. Take a peek at the "Look Inside" feature that Amazon has, and you can get an idea of some things the book touches on.

Like any book, there are things you take out of it, and things that you don't really feel apply. I thought this book did a really good job balancing that, and I felt the "signal to noise" ratio was excellent.

One of the many things I started to notice after crossing a certain point in the book was my mood and whether or not any particular cranky or pissy spell might be related to a high or low blood sugar.

I usually have trouble identifying when I'm a bit cranky. I bet many of us do. Something rubs us the wrong way, and before we know it we're snapping at those close to us, or pulling back to "just be alone". Maybe without even realizing what we're doing.

Me? I'm a snapper. I usually hold it together pretty good, except when it comes to my wife & kids. Maybe that's natural - to be a little less guarded around those you feel most comfortable with?

The book talked about many of these types of events in relation to low blood sugars - giving some examples of completely irrational explosions, only to find the person was experiencing a low blood sugar (maybe therefore not having the normal cognitive abilities).

Those make sense, the lows, at least as much as they can I guess. But I'm also starting to wonder if I don't also have trouble on the other end of things - when my blood sugar is high?

My poor and ever so patient family (I am so thankful for you).

I've asked my wife if we can come up with some ways for her to express that she feels I'm cranky, so I can (theoretically) test my blood sugar, and see if there is some relation there.

This situation is maybe more delicate than the average person may appreciate. Have you ever been pissed off, and your significant other asks you why you're pissed off, and it just makes you more pissed off? Or maybe they just start jabbing back at you, and the spiral of emotions escalates until you are both ready to bite each others head off!

After all that you still don't know why you were acting all pissy in the first place. And to top it off you've gone and pissed off those around you. No good for anyone.

So to come up with some way for my wife to communicate the fact that she believes I am acting cranky, without me getting even more cranky, is what we're after here.

I'm skeptical, because I know how I get when I'm cranky. But she's optimistic. She said "yes, you might get pissed of, but I'll get over it and so will you" (isn't she great!?). I also think the fact that I'm starting to recognize that my moods are very much impacted by my blood sugars will help things too.

If I can recognize that my blood sugar is high, and I'm cranky, I can then ratchet up my awareness and work to calm myself down. It's no guarantee, but I think it's better than just being cranky and making life miserable for my wife & kids.

This ties into so many things. When I posted Friday about having trouble after basketball - spilling ketones & running high sugars for much of that afternoon - I got home and was just wiped out. I wanted to crawl into a hole and not do or think about anything. I realized that I had an appointment with my therapist the next day, and I said to myself "you know, I don't want to work on anything". Those therapist appointments (and the aftermath of uncovering something) are mentally exhausting.

After having such a tough day, of course I was not looking forward to a mentally trying therapist appointment. But then it hit me - that I was in that "mental place" because of the day I had, and that after some rest, hydration and time with in-range numbers, I would feel better and probably be all revved up for the appointment.

I shared those thoughts with my wife, and we felt good about realizing why I was feeling that way. It didn't make me magically feel better, but understanding why my head was where it was helped tremendously. I didn't try to "fix" it - just recognize the why.

The next day, my therapist and I had a great appointment (in which I also shared my revelation! She said "duh!").

The human body is such a fascinating work of checks and balances, and there is more than just the physical side of things that get thrown out of whack when we are outside of the "normal operating range".

At the very least, it's something to think about - that's for sure.

13 Comments:

Blogger Vivian said...

Scott,
Great post. I really hope this new found discovery helps your world, especially at home. Who knows, maybe the knowledge of your emotions will also help you find why you have a hard time "wanting" what you "need."

We have known about mood swings for a while with Daniel but I think it is much easier to figure it out with a kid than with an adult, much less yourself. I still get sucked into the fight sometimes and he ends up crying and then I realize that duh he is low. With his lows he first gets irritable and then will end up crying about anything. When he is high he just bounces off the walls and then crashes hard when he is back in range.

Congrats and good luck.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Scott,

I know exactly what you are talking about. I've been a diabetic since 1981. I remember my parents talking about my screaming fits when I was a child, even though I was not diagnosed until I was 19 I believe that I was having blood sugar ups and downs even back then. I too appreciate my husband and my two sons for putting up with me all these years. I self diagnosed my mood swings a few years back. I am going to look up the book you spoke about. Good Luck and know you are not alone.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS. Do you wear a pump? It seems that I can think more clearly since I've been on the pump.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Kelsey said...

In college my best friend and boyfriend would tell me, when I was acting cranky: "Kels, you're low!" Man, they were intuitive! It's definitely true that highs and lows effect our moods.

I relate to your revelation Scott. Once you can attribute an emotional problem to a physical one, it makes the worrying about why you're upset go away, thus lessing the emotional toll. It makes a bad mood go by much quicker when you relax and realize that "this too shall pass."

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Zazzy said...

I agree that understanding how your blood sugar affects your mood is probably going to be really helpful. The other side of the coin is that sometimes there is a good reason (good, more or less) for being upset, down, or cranky. It can be really frustrating to have people around you write off something you're upset about by saying "oh you're just low, eat something," or "you're just high, check your sugar." Ask any woman who has felt dismissed with "you've just got pms."

I'm just suggesting that as you talk about sugars and moods you and your wife remember this part too.

10:44 AM  
Blogger George said...

Your wife is awesome! I am gonna check out that book. It sounds like a good idea.

thanks for sharing.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

You know, I just caught on to this pattern. It literally hit me in the face. Last time my daughter had a low blood sugar we had a spat and she smacked me accross the face. I know now it was the BG hitting and not her, I know from now on not to push her buttons when her BG is too low.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Chrissie in Begium said...

Definitely highs and lows affect me emotionally - but it doesn't always help to know that. I still remain grumpy until I have fixed the blood sugar. After a low blood sugar I get VERY blabby. So when do the blood sugars stop affecting us?

As Zazzy brings up - it is also really infuriating to be told that every time I get grumpy it is my fault, that the grumpiness is always caused by my blood sugar. SOMETIMES my anger is legitimate, sometimes I do perhaps have a reason to be annoyed. Sometimes I get really sick of taking all the blame. For example - during the end of a long walk my husband always says it is me getting low blood sugar but SOMETIMES it is in fact HIM that is tired and grumpy. So Zazzy - you made a really good point there!

1:32 PM  
Blogger cHoCoMiLkRoCkS said...

i've been cranky ever since i got diabetes.

1:25 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

You might not believe it's possible, but I can be such a bitch when my blood sugars are high! My parents actually started making me test whenever I started acting unreasonable. Like, *very* unreasonable. Screaming, crying, grandstanding, the whole nine yards. If I test and was over 300, my parents would immediately stop the conversation until my blood sugars came down. Then, when I was "normal" I could continue either fighting because I really was mad or I was more understanding because I didn't feel so crappy. It's something I've learned is definitely a part of me, and I tell people who are close to me that it does tend to happen so they will know not to continue a conversation with me. I know it's not really good to use diabetes as an excuse, but if something really does affect you like this (like lows make me shaky) it's really not something you can help.

7:49 PM  
Blogger Minnesota Nice said...

Scott,
I got here from Gabrielle's site and decided to blow off some steam since you are not only a fellow diabetic, but we both live in "the darling of the midwest".
I am seeing a therapist at a relatively famous diabetes center. He himself has T2 and thinks there is no difference between his situation and mine (T1 for 32 years). He excitedly announced that there were a couple of support groups starting, but failed to mention that they were at 10 a.m. on weekdays - what does he think, that we all sit at home and don't work for a living?
About a month ago, I was waiting in the reception area for my appointment and experienced a skyrocketing low. I nonchalantly took out a juice box and was fumbling with the tiny straw and the tiny hole when the receptionist stood up behind the counter and yelled "there is NO EATING allowed in this clinic". I burst into tears, stomped out, and was charged $70 for missing the appointment.
This was one of many instances when my feelings of alienation and utter aloneness are like big boulders in the road - hell, if they don't even understand the need to treat a hypo at a diabetes clinic, who else is going to?
Scott, I appreciate your honesty. This won't be the last you'll hear from me.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Scott K. Johnson said...

Hi MN-Nice!

Exciting for me to know I've got some other folks around the Midwest who check in!

Isn't Gabrielle's site great! I regularly check in to see what's happening. She has a way of making people feel good - and I like that.

Are you near the twin cities at all? There is a small, informal support group that I go to once a month. It's a pump support group, but you're more than welcome whether you're on a pump or not. We meet at Methodist Hospital at 7pm on the first Tuesday of the month.

I kind of snickered at your therapist thinking there is such similarity between his type 2 and your type 1. He should know better. And what a frustrating situation in the waiting room!

What a time to be broadsided by some unnecessary confrontation - when you're dealing with a low and may not have your wits about you.

Great to hear from you - thanks for reading!

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments and tips. I've been experiencing emotional highs and lows, that conincide with sugar levels, for some time now. My wife, bless her heart, has been extremely patient and understanding.Makes me wonder sometimes how lucky I am to have such a fine woman.

3:57 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home