February 24, 2014

Our Diabetes Support Group and Stress

Our February meeting was somewhat different. Tim had taken the topic and assigned different people parts of it to present. Since I was blogging about stress, Tim chose to leave me out since I had provided him with several links and a variety of stress topics. When the meeting started, he stated why some topics had been left out. He had purposely left out the positive stress topics I covered in my blog here. He said no one had asked to have them or felt the need for inclusion. He even stated that several of the other stress topics saying we don't have traffic jams and even when the river overflows, we still have routes to get to the stores for food and other supplies.

No one disagreed with him when he said that the extremely cold weather and frequent snow days were enough of a stress. He asked how many experienced bad batteries because of the cold. Six hands went up, and then he asked how many that worked were unable to get to work. Only one hand remained up. A.J. stated that all of his neighbors had left for work before he needed to leave and as such, he had no way to get to an auto supply to purchase a new battery. He said, he then called his work site and was told that they would be closed for the day.

With that pressure off, he raised the hood and recorded the information on the battery. Next, he called the auto supply store he did business with and asked if they would be making deliveries. They were and he ordered the battery. He paid for it when it arrived and then installed the new battery. The car started and he took the old battery to the auto supply store for credit since it was still under warranty.

Next, Tim put the topic of diabetes stress into discussion. No one disagreed that the daily management of diabetes was without some stress. Allen stated that he is happy with the success he is having with his diabetes management, but that he is worried about burnout. Allen turned to me and asked me how to overcome burnout. I said that a positive attitude is a key to help a person get through. Often people can have depression to go along with burnout. I brought up the book by Dr. William H. Polonsky and that it was a good resource - “Diabetes Burnout: What to Do When You Can't Take It Anymore”. Jason said that he had a copy that he referred to often, but he would loan it to Allen. Max said he had a Kindle version and reread it several times and he said it had helped him avoid burnout.

Brenda said she would be ordering it, now that her granddaughter had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. If she found that it would help her family, she would possibly order another copy. Sue then asked what burnout was. She could understand stress and depression, but could not make the link to burnout. Ben said he and Barry had been talking about burnout and was not sure he had the right answer, but they had agreed that burnout was when the repetition becomes frustrating, and the effort of the daily chores becomes overpowering. Stress may help cause burnout or be a contributing factor.

I agreed with Ben and added that even minor depression may be a factor to burnout. Jason agreed and said he believed burnout was all of these and people sometimes are at wit's end or mental resources to deal with diabetes. Rob said he would like to add that burnout can happen even when blood glucose management is going well and people just become tired of doing the same thing day after day. Tim asked Sue if she had a better understanding of burnout. Sue agreed that what we had said helped and her husband said he felt he had a handle on it and would talk about it at home.

Tim then brought up the article from Washington University in St. Louis and we covered what stress can do to the organs listed.

When we discussed what effect stress can have on the pancreas, John said that stress may have been part of the reason he developed diabetes because he was in an extremely stressful job at the time and dealing with his father nearing the end of his life. He admitted that he was not aware of anyone in his family having type 2 diabetes and had wondered why he had developed it. He stated that by leaving his job and having two sisters available to be caregivers to their father had been a big help, but he still did what he could to give the sisters some relief. The job he obtained after leaving the stressful job was actually fun to be at and not stressful.

We had some more discussion about the effects of stress and quickly covered the points in my blog here. When we discussed the use of counseling or psychotherapy, Jason said we could all think that it might not be for us, but stop and think about it. He continued that counseling had saved his marriage shortly after he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and now his wife and he are enjoying a stronger and closer marriage. He felt that his diabetes almost cost him his marriage because of the stress of diabetes.

Tim asked to end the meeting and interested people could continue discussions if desired. Discussion did continue for another half hour and then several decided to take the discussion to other places. All I can say is this was not the most intense meeting we have had, but it was not far from it.

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