"Don't Judge Yourself, Everything You're Feeling is Normal" - Managing Stress With T1D
"Don't Judge Yourself, Everything You're Feeling is Normal" - Managing Stress With T1D
If you're feeling extraordinary stress because of events in the news, you're not alone. This week, Stacey talks to Dr. Mark Heyman about simple things people with diabetes can do to manage better (and give themselves a break). Dr. Heyman is a diabetes psychologist and the Founder and He was diagnosed with type 1 while in college. In Tell Me Something Good – parents going an extra mile to make their kids feel included and a big challenge ends but we'll talk about "T1D 24/7" This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider. More information on mental health and diabetes: ----- ----- available to Diabetes Connections listeners! ----- Get the App and listen to Diabetes Connections wherever you go! Episode Transcription Stacey Simms 0:00 Diabetes Connections is brought to you by One Drop created for people with diabetes by people who have diabetes, and by Dexcom, take control of your diabetes and live life to the fullest with Dexcom. Announcer 0:17 This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms. Stacey Simms 0:22 This week, let's talk about stress. And let's talk about the not so great effect it can have on diabetes. Now you're in a cycle of not just physical issues, but emotional ones, including guilt. Mark Heyman 0:35 The guilt comes from I think a lot of times people feeling different or still don't. They're all alone, and that everybody else with diabetes is doing great. And I'm the one who is having trouble. Stacey Simms 0:46 Dr. Mark Kaman is a diabetes psychologist and founder of director of the Center for diabetes and mental health he was diagnosed with type one in college, we're going to talk about some simple things we can try to do to manage the stress that these days Seems to be unrelenting in Tell me something good parents going an extra mile to make their kids feel included and a big challenge ends This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider. Welcome to another week of the show. I’m your host, Stacey Simms, really glad to have you along. If you are new, we aim to educate and inspire about type 1 diabetes by sharing stories of connection. My son was diagnosed with type one right before he turned to he is now 15. I don't have diabetes, but I have a background in broadcasting and local radio and television news and that is how you get the podcast. This is not the show that I thought I would be doing this week like many podcasters I have an editorial calendar I don't always stick to it, obviously. But I have things planned out and I have interviews that are you know in the can waiting to be aired, but I thought this was a really good Subject to talk about right now. Because as I just said, I don't live with diabetes, but boy, we are all living with stress. And I thought, what are some things we can do to figure out how to better live with diabetes or with you know, whatever your health issues might be, everybody has something, I have my own autoimmune disease, how can we just take care of ourselves in a time where this news, as I said, just seems to be unrelenting? So I put in post in a Facebook group Diabetes Connections of the group, which I hope you're in, by the way, if you're not, please join it. You know, I was really worried about her everybody was holding up. And so we talked about self care. And we had a really nice thread of comments. Of course, that's still there in the group. If you haven't seen it yet, take a look at your own, maybe get some advice from it. But I also I decided to call in the experts, and I very much appreciate Dr. Heyman jumping on with me. We hadn't talked before. He was more than willing, and I'm sure we'll have him back on again, and I'll get to his interview in just a minute. But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by One Drop and One Drop is diabetes management for the 21st century. One Drop was designed by people with diabetes. For people with diabetes. One Drops glucose meter looks nothing like a medical device. It's sleek, it's compact, it seamlessly integrates with the award winning One Drop mobile app, sync all your other health apps to One Drop to keep track of the big picture and easily see health trends. And with a One Drop subscription you get unlimited test strips and lancets delivered right to your door. Every One Drop plan also includes access to your own certified diabetes coach have questions but don't feel like waiting for your next doctor visit. Your personal coach is always there to help go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the One Drop logo to learn more. My guest this week is Dr. Mark Heyman. He is a diabetes psychologist and a CDE and the founder and director of the Center for diabetes and mental health Mark was diagnosed in college right before I mean immediately to weeks before he had a long planned trip to Paris, and he talks about that we get to that at the end of the interview, and I asked him a little bit about his diagnosis story. But I wanted to talk to mark about how we can handle the mental load that has just been relentless all of this year, I'll come back at the end of the interview and just tell you a little bit more about how I've been handling things I've done some things I think are good. And some things I know haven't really been helping, but we'll talk about that after the interview. Here's my talk with Dr. Mark Heyman. Dr. Heyman, thank you so much for joining me. I'm so eager to hear what you have to say. And I know you're busy. So thanks for jumping on. Mark Heyman 4:37 Thanks for having me, Stacey. Appreciate it. How are you doing? Stacey Simms 4:41 I know, that probably wasn't the first question you expected as the psychologist but, you know, Mark Heyman 4:45 how are you doing these days? You know, I'm hanging in there. It's you know, I think that it's a strange time to be a psychologist as well as to just be someone living in this world. You know, we're, you know, we're all kind of trying to process the news on a daily basis. And, you know, I have A 16 month old middle daughter, so trying to take care of her and juggle my work and childcare and kind of all of the stress there. So I think overall, I'm doing pretty well, but definitely am feeling the stress and stress of what's going on with COVID. And with the rise and with the the unrest that's happening right now. So thank you for asking, Stacey Simms 5:20 Oh, my goodness. Well, it is, as you say, it's such an extraordinary time. And there's really no words left anymore. It's such a cliche, right? We all get those emails in these challenging times in these extraordinary times. But as you said, we've had this COVID situation for months now. It's sort of built on low boil, and I think we kind of learned to live with it in the background. And then of course, the events of this past week. Protests, riots, questioning a lot of people, even if they're not physically doing things and leaving the house, trying to figure out, you know, where do I stand? What do I want to say? We're all on high alert. Where are you telling people that you're speaking to to, to kind of I don't want to say Step back, necessarily, but maybe break it off into smaller bites, what do we do? Mark Heyman 6:05 Yeah, I think there's a couple of things that we can do. The first is recognize that everything that we're feeling right now is normal, that anybody else in that same situation would be feeling would be feeling unsettled and unrest, feeling stressed about, you know, what's going on in the world right now. I think oftentimes, we have these situations where we feel we're feeling something and we feel guilty for feeling it, I shouldn't feel stressed, I shouldn't feel I shouldn't feel x. And I think that taking a step back and recognizing that, you know, these feelings are really normal. The next thing is really to talk to other people and to be able to vent to have some have a sounding board table to get your feelings out. Because that doesn't necessarily make the feelings go away, doesn't make them better. But certainly to be able to share about other people and get get affirmation and get validation for those feelings, is a super helpful thing that we can do as a way of processing And then also taking a step back. And, you know, recognizing that Yeah, the world is in a in a tough spot right now. But also, we don't have to over engage with what's happening. We have we taking a step back and taking a break from social media sometimes just that taking a break from the news can be a really helpful thing to give yourself some perspective. So that when you dive back in and learn about what's what's going on in your car, take start thinking about what you might be able to do to help the situation. You can see that from a fresh perspective. Stacey Simms 7:33 Yeah, I think especially in a time right now we are we are being challenged to pay attention. And you know, and I can only come to this through the lens of what I have, which is a white suburban mom, right? You know, we're being challenged, pay attention. You know, learn, speak up, let other people know what you're thinking. But that doesn't mean be on twitter. 24 seven, that doesn't mean you have to watch all of the news is that what I'm kind of hearing you say Mark Heyman 8:01 Yeah, I think that one thing that we think is that if we that we want to be in control, not necessarily of the situation, but certainly be in control of our feelings and be in control of our, our environment. And I think that one one thing that one way that people try to get control over those things, is they do something called over engage, they engage with the news, and they end they get involved with it, because they feel like the more that they know that and the more that they see the the ever changing landscape, the more control they'll have. And I think that that's a it's a certainly a valid point. But there's also some of the downside to that. Because Because as you're following Twitter, you know, constantly, it's stressful, and you're constantly looking for the changes, and that's stressful. And the reality is, is that on a minute by minute basis, nothing's changed. Nothing's changed in a sense that is going to really probably change what you do or how you react and so yeah, take take a step back and and recognize But over an aging doesn't actually help with your stress and sometimes they can actually make your stress worse and you know, increase it as well. Stacey Simms 9:11 All right, let's bring diabetes into this because that's really you know, this is all about here on Diabetes Connections. And I don't live with diabetes, but I am I'll be honest I'm worried maybe it's a mom thing and I see the people in my Facebook group and I'm we're part of this larger community you live with type one. I mean, stress is bad for anybody but on top of type one diabetes. I'm gonna sound like a hypocrite because I was talking to this with my husband last night and he was pointed out I live with an autoimmune condition. I have ulcerative colitis laughing at me like why are you worried about diabetes you have to take care of yourself to which I really not, I'm not eating great. I'm not exercising like I normally do. So again, bringing back the focus to diabetes, but I guess any chronic condition you live with type one. Are you feeling more stressed? On top of diabetes Mark Heyman 10:02 Yeah, I definitely am. I'm definitely feeling more stressed because I mean for lots of reasons one is that you know, I you know, I'm a stress eater so when you know when I when I'm stressed out and when I'm around food like that's that's one of my coping mechanisms for better or for worse and so that doesn't do great things for my blood sugar's also just stress in general is definitely impacting my blood sugar's but I'm seeing you know a lot more variations than I had before as well as sleep certainly my sleep isn't great because of the stress right now and when when out sleep while my blood sugar's definitely are hot running higher which makes me not feel great but also makes me more frustrated. So you know I'm a I work with people with diabetes and help them manage their stress. I certainly have a lot of those same stresses and so it can be a challenging a challenging thing to balance. One thing that I've done to really, really kind of helped myself is a couple of things one I had been really intentional about exercising. Luckily, I have a little bit of flexibility in my schedule and so I'm able to exercise on most days and I find that starting my day off that exercising helps my blood sugar's and also helps my stress. Also just cutting myself some slack and being kind to myself around my blood sugar's recognizing that, you know, I'm doing everything that I can to manage them the best that I can. And sometimes they're not gonna cooperate. And that's true anytime, but especially to when we're in a time of stress, where with all these other variables going on, just, you know, being kind yourself and giving yourself some grace and some slack can be really helpful and recognizing the time will pass. And that that will that may be a time where we can be much more intentional about our diabetes management, but also, it'll be smoother sailing, hopefully, because the stress won't be a compounding variable there. Stacey Simms 11:53 Well, and that's such a great point because I was going to ask you and you pretty much answered it, but you know, when when someone With with tight diabetes control or someone who really is trying to manage Well, you know, if they have a very stressful time like this and their management, I'm gonna put this in air quotes, you know, slip. So you're seeing higher numbers or more variation. And then I think a lot of people have have guilt on top of as well. How do you deal with the guilt and not blame yourself? You mentioned trying to like dial back and see the bigger picture, it's not gonna last forever. Is that one of the things you'd recommend? Mark Heyman 12:29 Yeah, I also think that, you know, connect with the community, whether that's on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or in real life you can and recognizing that everybody else is going through the same thing and everybody else is having, you know, more erratic blood sugars right now. It's really valuable because the guilt comes from I think a lot of times people feeling different or feeling like they're all alone, and that everybody else with diabetes is doing great. And I'm the one who is having trouble and that's why I try to be really Open about you know, the challenges that I have with my blood sugar's like with like with my patients off kind of take out my phone and show them my CGM graph and show them that my blood sugar's are nowhere near perfect, because it makes them feel like you know, it takes some of that thing of that guilt away of recognizing that Yeah, I can certainly make better choices sometimes. But diabetes has a mind of its own and being okay with riding those waves is is critical for our mental health. Because if your only metric of success is keeping your blood sugar between those lines, and yet the only way you can not have stress in your in your diabetes life is by having perfect blood sugar's you're setting yourself up for failure. So we need to have a different way of looking at it. Stacey Simms 13:45 Every once in a while mark, I'm just I'm stopped. I I can't even imagine what it is like to to live with type one just so much that you have to do and I have somebody you know, I have my kid in my house that I've we've accepted for 13 and a half years and everyone's While I keep thinking, gosh, it is really such a burden. But that's neither here nor there. You know, but just to hear you put it like that. I'll probably take all of that out. Mark Heyman 14:08 But the way, let me say something there is, I actually try, I actually encourage people not to use that word Burg, because it kind of becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. You say diabetes is hard. It's such a burden. And you're right, I'm not gonna argue with you there. But then you, but then we won't talk about how big of a burden it is. It kind of gets it makes it it snowballs and grows and becomes bigger. And I think that when we say, you know, we have all of these things going on, we have diabetes, and COVID, and the George Floyd and all of all of these confounding things. And we say in diabetes becomes even bigger, a bigger burden. It's almost like this expectation that it should be, and sometimes it is, sometimes it's not, but we don't want to have people get to a point where they say, Well, I had diabetes and therefore this automatically means that you know, You want to I always give people the space to be able to, you know, see whether it's a burden or not, but not automatically assume that's going to be. Stacey Simms 15:08 I love that. And I'm always working on being better at language. And I really appreciate that. You know, it's, it's, it's one of these things where, you know, you want to help and every once in a while, you know, you really, I slip on that, so I appreciate it. Um, but, but Okay, so but let's keep going on that right. Okay, so I'm a caregiver, I guess a little bit less so because my son is 15. And it's like when he was two when I was doing everything with him. Any advice for me, in addition to not standing around saying this must be such a burden for you? How can I upload, right? I mean, which he's doing great. He's got his own way to manage stress. We're talking a lot. He does exercise quite a bit, which has been really helpful. He's connected with friends, but as a parent or caregiver or spouse, any advice for us so that we're not putting more stress And the person we're trying to help. Mark Heyman 16:02 Yeah, I think I think take a step back and recognize that you know, that he has it, he's got this taken care of and that you're certainly there to help him in whatever way that you can. But from what you're telling me, it sounds like he's doing really well, doing really well without responsibility. And so, and you know, when you're in, but certainly kind of the same thing about, you know, over engaging on Twitter around the protests right now. I think that over engaging with your son around diabetes, especially when there's not a whole lot you can do right now. I mean, because you're doing really well. That's add stress to you. And so if you're able to kind of take a step back, take a step back and not over engage with it doesn't aggravate him, but also gives you some space to recognize and also gives you space to recognize that but also see that he's doing well and give you the confidence that you need to continue to get that debt back because as she grows up and it goes to college Sunday Jimmy great scope for you to have. Stacey Simms 17:02 We're working on it. Mark Heyman 17:05 It's a never ending process. Stacey Simms 17:08 That's great advice. Um, what are some small changes that you might encourage people living with diabetes in these crazy times to do? Mark Heyman 17:18 Yeah, so a couple of things that I would recommend, I mean, just like just a simple tip is, you know, one of the things that is that people have really struggled with, that I've been talking to, over the past three months when we've been in quarantine is kind of the routine has been pulled out from under them, so they don't have to go into work anymore, they may not be able to go to their favorite restaurant or go to the gym. And so and diabetes...