Understanding the Highs and Lows of Your Diabetic Partner
Your diabetic partner will experience both blood-sugar highs and lows and mood highs and lows.
Plus, blood sugar levels can influence mood, and mood affects how people manage their blood sugar. This physical and emotional roller-coaster can be confusing and frustrating for you and your partner.
There are no easy answers. Just as we experience high and low pressure systems of the weather, we experience the shifting highs and lows of feeling and mood. We can study the science behind weather changes and behind sugar highs and lows, but we still must experience both.
Reacting to Unwanted Changes
Your partner will react to the diabetes diagnosis and all that it entails with their unique temperament, personality and skills. However, human beings have a lot in common, such as emotional reactions to an unwanted, life-altering diagnosis.
There is nothing abnormal or wrong with lows of feeling or emotion. Your partner may experience a period or recurring periods of grief, anger and anxiety about having diabetes – all normal reactions to having their self-perception shaken up by a chronic illness.
Grief, Anxiety, Anger, Happiness
It is natural to grieve any loss. Chronic illness is a loss of health, a sense of control and certain lifestyle habits. Anxiety arises because illness reminds us of our mortality and anger can show up for a couple reasons.
Anger is a protective emotion, a guard at the gate. It helps us keep our mental, emotional and physical boundaries from being invaded by nosy or critical people. Anger can also be a response to fear, to situations out of our control. We use anger to help us get our way and may get angrier when this does not work. Most of us eventually tire and let go of useless anger.
All feelings and emotions are best acknowledged, respected and fully felt. Only then can they move in and out of our experience, as they are meant to. This is true for happiness and feelings of success and competence as well. Today’s victory in avoiding a tempting sweet dessert may be replaced by tomorrow’s cream-filled pastry breakfast failure.
Blood Sugar and Mood
While changing emotions of victory or defeat are occurring, your partner is also experiencing fluctuations in their blood sugar levels. To support your partner, you must learn how they react to glucose ups and downs – and realize that irritability, lethargy, restlessness or reckless behavior might mean they need either food or insulin.
Your partner’s glucose levels, feelings, perceptions and experiences conspire to create their inner mood. If you have ever tried to analyze someone’s foul mood by asking them questions, you may have had your head bitten off, chewed and spewed. Questions are not the best path to human understanding.
The Best Option
Understanding your partner means realizing how complex their inner weather is, as is yours. Educate yourself about the physical highs and lows of diabetes, and factor that knowledge into communications with your partner. More importantly, observe, comment and listen without interpretation or judgment with an emphasis on listening.
The best option may not be understanding the highs and lows but to make your partner feel understood, though they may not understand themselves.