(Warning: Very long and detailed but please read if you have the time. I very much need the help)
I'm 18 year old freshman at Temple University getting ready for my second semester and the college life has presented a few problems that I'd like to get some opinions and advice on.
This is my second draft of this post. The first was ridiculously long and rambling, so in order to save everybody some eye strain I will try to condense my current problem in a broken-up, list-like manner.
-I have had diabetes since I was 9 years old. Up until recently I lived a fairly normal and well-controlled life.
-Near the middle of my senior year I started to develop a now extreme anxiety about going low.
-This anxiety is highly irrational and affects all aspects of my life. I no longer feel comfortable doing anything that requires me to leave my dorm room.
-This includes all activities that are even remotely physical-shopping, walking around the city, exercise, dancing,acting on a stage, going to amusement parks,and(sex)
-Because I have pretty much ceased all physical activity I have gained a significant amount of weight (I was about 20 lbs overweight, now I'm 50.
-I have also ceased to participate in most sedentary activities as well, including going to concerts, theater productions, hanging out with friends, going to parties, going out to eat, driving, going to the movies, and traveling.
-Basically any activity where I am not alone, sitting, and can focus all of my attention to what my bloodsugar is causes me a lot of anxiety
-All these things I listed (with the exclusion of sex, which I do not allow myself to do because I am too scared I will go low) are things that I used to love to do
-I am also too scared to try new things. I joined my school's paranormal club the first semester because that has always been a dream of mine. However, I declined to go on any ghost hunts because I knew I would be too anxious all the time about my bloodsugar.
-No longer doing things for enjoyment plus gaining weight has led my self esteem to drop significantly and to me feeling worthless
-If I do end up leaving my room for class or in an attempt to go out into the city I have a constant urge to check my bloodsugar every ten minutes. If I do not check my blood sugar I will experience a "false low" that will not go away until I check
-I am too worried about going low while I sleep that most nights it is near impossible to fall asleep
-I have anxiety attacks if I am outside of my room for more than five minutes without at least 2 glucose bottles, even though I usually carry about 20+ in my backpack
-I check so often that I run out of strips way before it is time to renew my prescription so I must pay 100-200 dollars on strips from the store.
-I am so paranoid that my bloodsugar is constantly over 250. I always feel sick and tired because of this but I feel anxious if it is any lower than 200.
-Having such poor control makes me simultaneously freak out about the complications I will face in the future while freaking out about going low.
-I have told this to my endo. She is trying to get me a CGM even though my insurance won't cover it but is not particularly helpful otherwise.
Again, I apologize for all the text. I just felt as though this is the only way I can fully express all the issues I have been having. I am extremely depressed and miserable. My anxiety is out of control and dampening any chance at a normal life. My question to anyone reading is just to share any kind of advice or story they think could help. I have no idea how I developed these extreme anxieties. I'm not really sure how to remedy this problem but I'm desperate to improve my life. Do I have any chance at regaining happiness?
Thank you for your time
I started out very similarly to you. I am terrified of lows, and it does not help that I have some hypo-unawareness and don't start to feel them until I am below 40. I also experience "false-lows" and sick feelings that I attribute to bloodsugar changes. Every time I feel weird, I need to take a test and end up testing sometimes every hour each day. I asked my endo to prescribe more strips per day for me, which helps so I don't run out.
When I first began to fear lows, I didn't even notice it myself. My average BS crept up. First I spent a lot of my day in the 200s..a few years later I spent more of my day in the 300s. For the last year I have rarely gone a day without hitting <400. I'm telling you this because this can spiral out of control very quickly! I am now at the point where my hands are starting to tingle and ache from neuropathy. There are days my eyesight is so blurry I can barely focus, and driving is sometimes impossible. And I am very very tired. I started to think to myself, the highs are what's going to get me in the end, not the lows. I've made a big mistake in not realizing that until now. But I am still scared of the lows more!
In March, I am going to receive a service dog who has been trained to smell low bloodsugars and signal to me before my BS goes too low. I know this is going to help me tremendously with my anxiety over lows! Maybe you should consider one? There is a group here on Tu about them.
I have tried the Dexcom and if you can get it, I would do that as well! It was not helpful to me because constantly knowing my number and seeing the trending arrows pointing up and down made me even more anxious and I started to ignore it just to get through the day :) But I still recommend it to anyone thinking about it because it is pretty amazing when you can get it to work for you.
There is an EXCELLENT diabetes therapist in Media PA (she takes insurance, too). If you are from the Greater Philadelphia area, you probably know where Media is. If not, it is about 20 miles southwest of main campus.
I submit that the issues you are having are only tangentially related to diabetes. The fear of going low is very real and I don't want to minimize it. That said, many people have concomitant disorders. Many college students (who don't live with diabetes) experience severe anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and more. I am not a doctor or a therapist, but it's clear that this goes beyond the diabetes. If you'd like the name of the therapist in Media, send me a note and I'll get it to you outside the forum.
Sounds like you are suffering from some serious anxiety.
I spent a year or so in a crazy anxiety episode that left me depersonalized and in pieces, so I understand how powerful it can be. Wouldn't wish it on anyone.
As Zoe said, try and get some therapy, perhaps combined with some anti anxiety medication.
I promise this is not forever, take small steps and one day you will look back and think "what the hell was that all about??"
I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who took the time to reply. I wasn't sure how people were going to take this so the supportive words are much appreciated. What's even more appreciated, however, is the excellent advice. I agree that a mix of counseling/therapy and personal will could lend to me feeling more confident. I am currently looking into finding a counselor/therapist. In the meantime, I really liked the advice telling me to slowly work my way back to normalcy and set little goals. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make everything perfect right away, but it was always too much for me to handle. Even though I have a long way to go, I feel confident that things will slowly get better. It's a good feeling :). Thanks again!
I forgot but one other thing I recall seeing is to try to work on one time of day at a time, like lunch/dinner/ breakfast. One other tip is if you do this, to save breakfast for last, b/c it's the biggest PITA out of all of them and, if you can get some useful data, like rates/ ratios from lunch/ dinner, you can apply the knowledge to breakfast to pound it into submission. Good luck!!
What does PITA mean?
Pain In The Ass :)
I thought it was a medical term.... maybe it is. Thanks.
It *is* a medical term. It is a synonym for T1D!
There is a organization called College Diabetes Network. I just checked their website and they list Temple. Not sure if they have a chapter there, but if they do it may be worth checking out. I know this organization and like what they do. It is run by the students and being around people who know what you are experiencing rather than have read about it, might be helpful.
I don't know if we can do this through TuDiabetes but if you think the CGM would help and cannot afford it, I would be happy to help out financially. I had a son who was seriously, seriously burned in a housefire. I was blown away and humbled by all the people who reached out to help us. I still need to pay that forward.
I was just wondering if you have had ever had a 'thyroid' blood panel tested? Not only can hypothyroidism cause weight gain, it can also cause confusion, depression, etc.
Before I became type 1, I was diagnosed with hashimotos thyroiditis. I also have a 3rd autoimmune disease called pernicious anemia. These diseases tend to run together, and often type 1 starts before thyroid disorders.
I remember that one of the big symptoms that I had was that the end of my eyebrows stopped growing. Even if that isn't the case, I think you should ask your endo to test you, if she hasn't already.