Posted on

Be Careful About What You Say

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In a previous post, I wrote that people with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to suffer from depression than people without diabetes, and only 25% – 50% of those ever get diagnosed and treated.

The other bad thing about diabetes is that it can make your mental health problems worse and if your mental health problems are not treated they can make your diabetes worse. But the good news is, You Are Not Alone. There’s help for you and the millions of others who need it.

The words we say to ourselves and the words others say to us can have a negative effect on the way we feel about ourselves and consequently on our mental health. Diabetes does not define who you are. Depression or any other mental illness does not define who you are. Sure, you can make healthy lifestyle changes to better manage your diabetes, but having diabetes or mental health does not mean you’re a bad person.

However, saying negative words to yourself can make you feel guilty and beyond help. Do you say things like “I’ll never lose weight. I inherited fat genes.”

Or, “I’ll never be able to control this diabetes.”

Or, “What good would it do to talk to someone?”

If you say things like that you are closing your mind to the healing process. You are training your body to resist change. You may have inherited diabetes or obesity, but making the necessary lifestyle changes can help you overcome those challenges.

Talking to people who are sympathetic and knowledgeable can be the first step in helping you cope with diabetes and/or mental health problems. Focusing on the negative things in your life — your weight, your lack of energy, isolation —or any other limiting factors can cause you to become depressed, as can the words you say to yourself.

Make an effort today to begin speaking the changes you would like to see in your life.

“I can lose weight despite the genes I inherited.”

“With the right help, I can control my illness.”

“It won’t help to keep my feelings bottled up inside.”

Your words have power. They can enact a positive or a negative transformation in your life. Be careful about what you say.

The US is facing a serious mental health crisis, this is why the National Alliance on Mental Illness joins the national movement every year to bring greater awareness to mental health and to help fight the stigma that goes with it. The theme for this year’s campaign is More Than Enough.

If you enjoyed this blog post, please sign up in the box below to get more informative posts in your inbox. Leave a comment in the comment box and share your thoughts with us.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

Posted on

7 Ways To Cope With Stress

April is Stress Awareness Month. In our modern-day society, stress has become a much-overused word. Other synonyms you might use are overwhelmed, burnout, and pressure. These words adequately describe the way a person feels when under stress.

What is stress?

However, the scientific meaning of stress is the way the body responds to physical, emotional or mental pressure, commonly called the fight or flight response. During stress your body undergoes chemical changes that can raise your blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels.

Stress and diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes are prone to stress because of the difficulties associated with managing diabetes. Also, when you are under stress, your blood sugar levels rise. Let’s say you are walking along the street and see a speeding car coming straight at you, you experience a rush of adrenaline. Your heart pounds, your breathing becomes shallow, and your saliva may even dry up. This rush of adrenaline causes your blood glucose levels to rise as the body prepares to give you enough energy for fight or flight. At the same time, your insulin level drops, growth hormone and cortisol levels rise, making your body less sensitive to insulin.

Emotional stress may come about when you are overwhelmed either with demands placed on your time at work or at home. Conflict, financial pressures, and health issues can all bring about stress.

Use the infographic below to help increase your stress awareness and learn some techniques that will help you cope with stress.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

Posted on

Can Chaotic Blood Sugar Cause Mood Swings?

Do you find yourself becoming irritable, angry, or depressed for no apparent reason? This may happen to a lot of people suffering from diabetes and they may not realize that their chaotic blood sugar might be causing their mood swings.

By chaotic blood sugar we mean blood sugar readings that are high one minute and low the next, and as your blood sugar fluctuates, so do your moods.

Managing diabetes can be difficult. You may become so overwhelmed by the new demands put on your body that you may even wonder if you have a mental health problem. It may help to know that studies have found that there is a relationship between mood swings and chaotic blood sugar.

Mood swings from high and low blood sugar

The School of Public Health University of Michigan states that high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) have been known to cause anger or sadness, while low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) has been known to result in nervousness.

Mood swings in people who are not diabetic

The report goes on to state that people who are not diabetic can also experience mood swings. This can happen through consuming a diet high in refined sugars and carbs. This can cause a sudden rush of blood sugar, followed by an increase in insulin into the blood, leading to hypoglycemia.

3 tips to manage your blood sugar

  • Reduce stress. Stress affects your hormones, which can put your blood sugar on a roller coaster. Talk to the people around you about how you feel and do not be ashamed to ask for help in managing your diabetes.
  • Increase your protein and fiber intake. Protein foods (meat, fish, beans, lentils) have a low glycemic load and therefore will not impact your glucose level. Foods rich in fiber —fruits and green, leafy vegetables—are also low in sugar and will not raise your sugar level.
  • Cut down on sugary drinks —sodas, juices with sugar added—and refined carbohydrates —cakes, cookies, muffins, and pastries, to name a few. These have a high glycemic index and can make it difficult to manage your diabetes.

It’s important to listen to your body. Chaotic blood sugar can make managing your diabetes more difficult. Most diabetics say they can tell when their blood sugar is high or when it is low without using their glucometer. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed or unable to cope, speak to your health care provider or your health coach and get the help you need.

To learn more about how you can manage your diabetes, sign up for the newsletter below.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

Posted on

5 Scripture Verses For Mental Health

As you know, May is mental health month. It is a time set aside to bring awareness and provide support to those suffering from mental health. In my last post, I wrote about the various organizations who are advocating to help end the stigma attached to mental health.

Mental health is an illness like any other, and it needs to be treated like any other mental illness. You already know about the mind/body connection, which has to do with the way the body responds to brain signals transmitted through neural pathways. Psychologists tell us that our thoughts can influence the way we feel. When you are stressed, anxious or upset, you may come down with a cold or whatever virus may be going around.

Reading, praying and meditating on the scriptures can help relieve stress, anxiety, and depression and help you cope with mental illness. if you are not in the habit of meditating on the scriptures, I have posted an infographic below to help you get started.

Let me encourage you to read and meditate on these scriptures as often as you can. As you do so, you will experience an inner peace that will go a long way in helping you feel better. However, this cannot and should not take the place of consulting with your doctor and following his advice.

If you are looking for another way to get in touch with scripture and be reminded of it during the day, why not get one of these t-shirts that carry biblical messages? They are attractive, sturdy, and inspiring.

Posted on

Loneliness Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

A while back, I read that the British Prime Minister had appointed a minister for loneliness to try to reverse the trend in that country. But loneliness is not only prevalent in Britain. Here in the United States where most young people move out of their parents’ home by the age of eighteen, parents soon find themselves with an “empty nest.” Then a few years later, one partner dies, and the other is left all alone. He/she may not see the children or grand-children except at Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Loneliness affects not only the elderly, but people across the age spectrum. One AARP source says that loneliness has increased by 5 million among people age 45 and over.

The dangers of loneliness

A former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says loneliness can be worse for you than smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness leads to depression and anxiety and increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, dementia, and death, say the experts. I’m not surprised at these findings, but this one really bowled me over: An English longitudinal study of 264 participants showed that loneliness was a significant predictor of incident type 2 diabetes, independent of age, sex, ethnicity, wealth, smoking status, alcohol consumption, BMI, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Loneliness and social media

One report notes an increase in the number of people who complained of loneliness at the same time that social media became popular, but they don’t know yet what is cause and what is effect. While technology proved invaluable during the pandemic— it helped us stay in touch in ways that would not otherwise be possible— we should not use it as a tool to relieve loneliness. Nothing can replace face-to-face contact, a touch, or a hug.

Ways to fight loneliness

  • Call an old friend
  • Join a walking club or some other group that interests you
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Visit friends and family
  • Get involved in your church

Loneliness affects people of all ages and stages in life. It is a dangerous epidemic that can impair your mental as well as physical health. Spending a lot of time in front of your computer or with your cellphone does not relieve social isolation. Follow the tips above to relieve or prevent yourself becoming socially isolated. Your life may depend on it.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

Posted on

What We Can Learn From Athletes And Their Mental Health

I had planned to write a post on mental health and type 2 diabetes, but decided to wait on a more opportune time. But with Simone Biles’s shocking exit from the Tokyo Olympics, I thought this was the best time to tackle this important subject. As a therapist who worked with mentally ill patients for many years and who had a family member who suffered from mental illness, I feel a great deal of empathy for the mentally ill. Whether she is a decorated, world-famous athlete or a lowly person struggling to make ends meet, mental illness affects us all.

Simone Biles at the Olympics all around gold medal podium From Wikimedia Commons

Dubbed “The Face of the Games,” Biles was expected to once more dominate the gymnast field and add to her vast collection of gold medals. But on Monday night, when she failed to execute a maneuver that had been second nature to her, Biles decided it was time to take a break. She is not the first famous athlete to confess to having mental problems. Recently, Naomi Osaka, tennis star, also withdrew from this year’s French Open and exited in the third round of the Olympics after losing to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic. In 2016, Michael Phelps also revealed that he too wrestled with depression and suicidal thoughts.

Those are just three of the big names, but other athletes have also spoken out about their struggles with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Speaking of Osaka’s decision to withdraw, Biles said, “I say put mental health first because if you don’t, then you’re not going to enjoy your score and you’re not gonna succeed as much as you want to.” She continued, “So, it’s okay sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a competitor or a person that you really are.”  

Here Biles is speaking about athletic competition, but can you see a message in her words for ordinary folk like you and me? I do. If I substitute the word life for score and the phrase some things for big competitions … see what I mean? Many of us stress ourselves out trying to achieve the pot of gold beyond the rainbow and we fail to enjoy life. We don’t take time to look after ourselves. We can’t say no to others. We subject ourselves to a lot of pressure just trying to please others.

On the other side of the coin, there are those of us who have inherited a family history of depression. This makes it more difficult to manage your depression. If you have diabetes – either type 1 or type 2 – you are at a greater risk for depression. Part of the reason is that managing diabetes can be stressful. It can also lead to other health problems which may worsen symptoms of depression.

There is still a stigma attached to mental health. Hopefully, with famous people like Biles and Osaka speaking out about their mental health, more people will be encouraged to come forward and get treatment. If you are diabetic and find yourself experiencing feelings of sadness or hopelessness for no apparent reason, loss of interest in things you once enjoyed, unexplained back pain or headaches, consult your doctor. Do not wait until your feelings become worse. The sooner you begin treatment, the sooner you will begin to enjoy life again.

The form you have selected does not exist.

Posted on

5 Ways To Stop Feeling Like A Victim

Sometimes when things are not going your way you may decide to curl up in a corner and have a good pity-party. Or, you may complain to others how unfair life is, or ruminate on all the hurt you suffered and the many ways you have been victimized. You would most likely stay in victim mode for a while, but it should be a short while. If you follow the tips below, you just may end up feeling like a victor and not a victim.

Shift Your Focus

  1. Let it go. Whatever it is that hurt you – a person’s actions or your own bad choices – make the decision to let it go. Forgive the person who hurt you. The sooner you do that the sooner you will stop reliving the hurt and all the details, and your mind will be free to begin working on new possibilities.
  2. Forgive yourself. Sometimes you may find it easier to forgive someone else — especially if that person is not in close proximity— than to forgive yourself. You may tell yourself, “I deserved it.” No, you didn’t. You may have had a small part to play in the pain you suffered, but that does not give anyone the right to take advantage of you. (See #5)
  3. Acknowledge your pain. Talk it over with someone — a trusted friend, a therapist, or even the person who hurt you. Getting it out of your system is another way of letting go. You can write in your journal, or write a letter to the person or yourself and not mail it.
  4. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes the pain we experience is not always the total fault of someone else or of circumstances beyond your control. As you write in your journal or your letter, examine the part you played in bringing on that hurt. Did you set yourself up for the person to hurt you? What could you have done differently? Being honest will help you avoid such situations in the future.
  5. Take one day at a time. You cannot forget the past. You would wish you could erase those horrible memories, but unfortunately, you can’t. Therefore, the best thing you can do is to take one day at a time. When your mind harks back to the past, linger there only for a moment, then tell yourself, “Today is a new day. God is in charge of my life today and forever. The past is gone.”

All of this may sound easier said than done, but it takes work. It takes commitment to practice letting go, forgiving yourself and others, being honest with yourself and living in the present. And what does this have to do with your diabetes? Well, the victim mentality can lead to stress, which can lead to depression, which can lead to diabetes. The good news is that diabetes and depression can be treated together. Fill out the form below.

Journaling through COVID-19

Do you suffer from type 2 diabetes? Would you like to know how to control or even reverse your diabetes through proper diet and exercise? Then fill out the form below for a free discovery session. Contact me.

Posted on

Peace In Troubled Times

Courtesy morgue file

It’s the beginning of another week, but for many of you your normal routine has changed. You don’t have to go to work, but instead of feeling happy, you are filled with anxiety and uncertainty. What does the future hold? Can you protect your family from this horrible coronavirus? How long will it last? When will your life return to normal? These and other questions trouble your mind as you try to grapple with this frightening situation.

In this uncertain time, it is easy to give in to feelings of anxiety and even fear. But if you can turn your focus away from what is going on around you– just for a few minutes– and place it on God, you can have peace. The only advice I have for you is what I give myself when things look grim, as they do now. I pray and meditate on scripture. Here are some verses that bring me comfort. I hope they do the same for you.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Psalm 119: 165

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Psalm 91: 2

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makes me dwell in safety. Psalm 4: 8

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. Psalm 18: 2

For some of you who are not used to praying, you can use the scripture verses above. Say them out aloud as often as you can and watch changes begin to take place. God bless.

Posted on

Why We Must Forgive

Write a letter of forgiveness

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus said these words in Luke 23: 34 as He hung on the cross, being crucified for sins He didn’t commit. He forgave the thief who was being crucified with Him when he asked for forgiveness. (Luke 23: 39 – 43). Prior to His death, Jesus taught, “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them” (17: 3 – 4). Jesus emphasized two things: 1) forgiveness is mandatory, and 2) it is ongoing.

Acknowledge the hurt

It’s not easy to forgive someone who has hurt you. The hurt, the disappointment, the shock can remain with you for years, affecting you mentally and physically. You don’t want this to happen. If the person is a close friend or relative, it’s even more difficult. Yet, Jesus says we must forgive. But look at what He says first, “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; ” In other words, don’t hold your hurt inside and pretend it doesn’t matter. Let them know they hurt you and when they say they are sorry, then you forgive them.

Human forgiveness

But, you say, what if they never admit their wrong or say they are sorry? Human forgiveness is different from Godly forgiveness. God forgives people when they repent. He knows their heart, we don’t. Therefore, all we can do is forgive them and leave the rest to God. Make a conscious decision to forgive, release the hurt they caused you and forgive them in your heart. You can do that through prayer and counseling.

Forgiveness is ongoing

“Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” It’s hardly likely that someone would sin against you seven times in a day and come to you for forgiveness, however, our Lord said this to show that we must never refuse to forgive someone no matter how many times he has wronged us. Bear in mind that forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. The person must demonstrate a change in his attitude and actions and work at regaining your trust before any attempt at reconciliation can be made.

REACHing forgiveness

Have you ever wronged someone, intentionally or otherwise? We may not always be aware of our wrongdoing, but acknowledging our own need for forgiveness can help us empathize with others when they hurt us and reach out to them with forgiveness. In order to REACH forgiveness, you must:

  • R – Recall the hurt
  • E – Empathize with the person who hurt you
  • A – Altruistic gift of forgiveness
  • C – Commit to forgive
  • H – Hold onto forgiveness

Once you have reached that level of forgiveness toward the other person, you can go one step further. Write a letter of forgiveness but don’t send it.

Has someone hurt you and it’s affecting your mental and physical health? Fill in the form below and let’s talk about it.

Posted on

Look After Your Dad’s Mental Health

This weekend we celebrated Father’s Day. I hope it was a pleasant time for most of you who still have a father. For those of you (like myself) whose dad is no longer around, I trust that you at least have pleasant memories. Unfortunately for many, those memories or the present reality may be something you can do without. Have you ever wondered why your dad may be so difficult to be around? Why he often seems to fly off the handle and at other times withdraw or become moody? He may have some type of mental health issues.

Depression is a mental health illness that affects men and women alike. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is one of the leading causes of disease or injury for men and women worldwide. The CDC lists the signs of depression as: “persistent sadness, grumpiness, feelings of hopelessness, tiredness and decreased energy, and thoughts of suicide. “

These symptoms may be disturbing, but by seeking help early, your dad can get the treatment he needs to help him live a healthy life. Mental health still has a stigma attached to it, which is one of the reasons men, especially, hesitate to speak about what they are feeling. It is up to you to observe your dad’s behavior and if you notice something amiss, encouraging him to talk about it. By following a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, exercise and leisure activities, your dad may be able to prevent or cope with mental health issues.

Is your dad or someone in your life showing signs of mental health illness? If yes, what are you doing about it?