The effect of diabetes on my mother’s mental health

5
minute read
October 14, 2022
A heart, carved into a door.
Note: Image for illustration only. It does not show the author of this story.

Diabetes is a cruel disease that not only affects a person’s physical health but also their mental health.

I’ve seen the effect of diabetes on my mother’s mental health, and it’s heartbreaking. Her moods fluctuate frequently, and she often struggles with depression and anxiety.

Her emotional well-being is affected by the constant stress of managing her blood sugar levels, the physical pain, and the fatigue associated with the disease. She often feels overwhelmed and defeated, leading to feelings of hopelessness and depression.

Her situation is made worse because she frequently has to deal with adverse reactions from family, friends, and strangers who are unaware of her condition. When her mental health gets disrupted she finds it difficult to cope with everyday life, which makes it hard for her to maintain relationships and stay employed.

No one can ever truly prepare for the challenges life throws their way, and I can only imagine how hard it is for my mother to keep going. But despite her struggles and hardships, she never gives up and has always been a rock for me. She’s an inspiration to me and so many others.  

So I want to offer her some words of encouragement and hope and let her know I appreciate everything she does for me. And tell her that I know she’s strong enough to get through anything. No matter what challenges come her way, I know she can handle them. She’s a fantastic woman, and I am proud to be her son.

And I’ll support her however I can.

Tips for supporting a diabetic

Here are some of the things I do to support my mother with her diabetes:

  1. Helping with grocery shopping and meal planning
  2. Assisting track her blood sugar levels and medications
  3. Encouraging physical activity and relaxation
  4. Helping with stress management and providing emotional support
  5. Letting her know I’m always available for a chat or to lend a listening ear

Helping with grocery shopping and meal planning

As a diabetic, my mother finds grocery shopping and meal planning difficult. So offering to assist with both is a huge help – It made my mother’s life simpler, and knowing that someone was looking out for her best interests gave her peace of mind.

When I go grocery shopping, I look for healthy food options to help her regulate her blood sugar level. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains are all excellent choices. And by helping plan her meals, I can make sure she gets the nutrients she needs.

Assisting track her blood sugar levels and medications

As a diabetic, my mother has to keep track of her blood sugar level and medications. This isn't easy because different activities and foods affect her blood sugar level in different ways.

Helping her use her blood sugar monitor allows her to accurately track her levels throughout the day. And setting up apps for her on her phone means she now has reminders for when it's time to take her medicine.

Utilising these tools and following the advice of many diabetes educators, we were able to help her stay on top of her health and maintain good diabetes control.

Encouraging physical activity and relaxation

Regular physical activity can help overall health and well-being – It helps lower blood sugar levels, improves circulation, and promotes weight loss.

However, my mother finds it hard to stay motivated. That’s why I encourage my mother to find activities she’ll enjoy and stick with in the long run.

We found that walking, biking, swimming, and even dancing were effective ways to get her heart pumping and blood flowing. And relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation have also proved helpful in managing her stress and blood sugar level.

Helping with stress management and providing emotional support

Helping my mother manage stress is critical to maintaining her health – Her body is already under stress, and adding emotional stress on top can make matters worse.

I use a variety of techniques to provide emotional support and help my mother de-stress. We’ve found that maintaining a healthy lifestyle – eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep – have all helped manage her stress.

My mother also makes every effort to avoid stressful situations. If a stressful situation can’t be avoided she takes steps to reduce her stress level, such as deep breathing or following relaxation exercises.

Letting her know I’m always available for a chat or to lend a listening ear

Nobody wants to feel isolated, especially when going through a difficult time. So when my mother was diagnosed with diabetes, I made sure to tell her I was always available for a chat or to lend a listening ear.

Of course, I can't be there all the time, but even just checking in with her regularly makes a big difference. A simple text or call lets her know I’m thinking of her and provides a motivational boost.

Sitting down with her and talking about what she’s going through is even more beneficial. Offering words of encouragement or even simply listening and letting her know I’m there has a massive impact on her mental and emotional well-being.

Final thoughts

Diabetes can wear you down, both physically and emotionally. If you’re a primary caregiver or relative of a diabetic it’s critical to remind them they’re not alone in their struggle.

And there are numerous ways you can provide support, just as I have with my diabetic mother – Helping her with daily tasks and providing emotional support have given her a big boost in her quality of life.

I encourage you to do the same.

Graphic of a male profile picture.
Zeeshan Danish
Editor's note: The opinions and experiences reflected in stories from the diabetic community belong to the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InDiabetes.

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