Diabetes and emotional wellbeing – by Arthur Smith

Being diabetic can sometimes feel like you have a friend, whom I shall call Dennis, who never goes away and is always on your case.

When you get up you have to test your blood sugar to ensure Dennis is OK, then you must consider your breakfast and how much to inject to make sure Dennis is not too low, nor too excitable. Next Dennis will divert you from what you really want to do by shouting: ”Don’t put sugar in your coffee! And look, if you and me are going for a walk please make sure you’ve got something sweet with you. Hey, have you seen all these recipes?”

Even when you are enjoying a deep sleep and having a lovely dream about being on holiday with Emma Thompson and Miriam Margoles, Dennis will wake you up and insist you have some fruit juice to stop yourself going into too deep a sleep. It’s nice to have such a devoted friend but wouldn’t it be even nicer to forget them occasionally and go off on your own?

People don’t realise that diabetes is not just a physical condition, it can affect your wellbeing too and make you miserable. If you are lucky, like me, you have a Beth. Beth is my long-suffering partner who, having lived with me for 20 years knows more about diabetes, I suspect, than most doctors. She is often better at knowing how I am feeling than I am myself and always ensures that when we go away I have packed all the right medications and she reminds me to inject at the best time before I eat. She is alert to my mood and her wit, beauty and tenderness keep me on an even keel. More than once she has raced to some comedy gig I am at to bring me the insulin I had forgotten. If we have a row and I am despatched to the doghouse I am at least pleasingly distracted from worrying about the effects my diabetes is having on heart disease, kidneys, eyesight etc.

Sadly, not everyone has a Beth.  I suspect there are many people with a Dennis who don’t have a Beth to deal with the daily grind of coping so I’ll be supporting Diabetes UK’s new emotional health campaign designed to make sure diabetics have support, not just for their condition but for the anxiety that comes with it. I’d better stop now – Dennis wants me to do something…

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