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Diabetes and Anger
Lately, you’ve been angry. Not the kind of anger where you’re mildly annoyed every once in a while. There hasn't been any one thing or trend of things that set you off. It seems like you are a firecracker with a short fuse. You are constantly about to explode. Heck, you don’t even need a good reason. You’ll get mad at anyone, at any place, at any time.
Naturally, you don’t like this feeling. It’s scary. When you get angry, you don’t feel like yourself, and you certainly don’t act like yourself. That out-of-control feeling makes you worry about what you might do and who you might do it to.
You're not the only one concerned, either. Your family has noticed, and they are not pleased with your actions. It started out as a snip here and a snap there, but now it seems like you’re irritable all the time. If something doesn’t change soon, you might end up doing something that cannot be undone or frustrating the people in your life to the point where they decide that life is better without you.
It’s time to act, but knowing what to do can be difficult. How do you find out why you are angry? How to you assess what your anger is targeting? And most importantly, what do you do about it once you know?
The answers are here for anyone who reads on. However, growing anger is a very serious situation, and if your anger is getting more frequent, intense or long-lasting, seek professional treatment to get the individualized attention you need.
Finding the Source
Finding the source of your anger is a really useful exploration. This is something that will require the assistance of everyone around you because your recollections will be foggy at best. When your anger is high, your memory is low, hampering your ability to accurately perceive and recall information.
Simply put, if you admit that anger is a problem for you, you also have to admit that you cannot rectify the situation alone. You need help.
Now that you have help, ask your friends and family to document your anger from the beginning. Is it something that has been present since your childhood or something that started more recently? Was there a turning point somewhere along the line?
People tell you that your anger seems to be connected to your diabetes diagnosis, but you’re not sure you can believe that. After all, what does diabetes have to do with anger? This might surprise you, but diabetes is strongly related to anger.
The first link between diabetes and anger is blood sugar. When your blood sugar is too high, too low or fluctuating between the two, it has a major influence on your mood. Being calm and level-headed is hard enough when your physical health is stable. Adding inconsistency to the mix makes it more challenging to pay attention, remember and rationally communicate with others. Low blood sugar is also related to feelings of anxiety.
The second link between diabetes and anger is the loss of power and control. Sometimes it feels like diabetes is in charge. It tells you when to eat, what to eat, how much physical activity you need, and it makes you prick yourself during the day to draw blood. You really hate that part. You are a person who prides yourself on being independent and self-sufficient, but now it’s like diabetes has robbed you of that. You beat yourself up and put yourself down because you blame yourself for landing in this situation. Diabetes feels like disappointment.
The second link focuses on how you see yourself, while the third focuses on how other people see you. People used to treat you like a strong, capable person. Lately, people have been trying to take care of you like you were a toddler again. They are constantly reminding you about your habits and your diet while repeating things to you like you’d forget your own name. On some level, you get that they are trying to help. You just wish that they would stop.
So, you’ve found the culprit. Since your diabetes diagnosis, you have been lashing out at yourself and others. Other prime targets of your anger include your doctor for giving you the diagnosis, your insurance company for the expense of treatment and food companies for producing the unhealthy food that brought you to this point.
What to Do
There is a saying among mental health professionals that goes: “Insight does not change behavior.” This saying is true for you. Establishing why you are angry and how your anger is expressed does not change the fact that you are angry. Knowing these things is essential to moving forward, though. Without the knowledge about what you are up against, you could spend all of your time, effort and energy spinning your wheels ineffectively.
To improve your anger, look to improve each of the three links listed previously, one by one. Since they are each a separate beast, they will require individual attention. The work will be strenuous, but worthwhile.
Blood sugar is you first enemy. You have probably experienced the fluctuations first hand. Maybe blood sugar feels like something that is overwhelming and beyond your control. Maybe it feels bigger than you. This is an example of anger demotivating you. Instead, choose to be motivated by your anger. Channel it towards prevention. Let it push you to educate yourself about the best foods to eat and when to eat them. Protein for breakfast can help you feel fuller and manage your blood sugar for hours. Allow the anger to move you to lace up your sneakers and take more walks outside. Burning off some physical energy will leave you calmer and more relaxed later.
The second enemy in this scenario is an ironic foe: yourself. In life, you can be your own best friend or your arch nemesis. Choose your position wisely. Pay more attention to the things you say to yourself. This internal monologue is called self-talk, and it has a huge influence on how you feel. If you call yourself names, criticize yourself in extreme ways and never have anything good to say, chances are that you will lash out against others to feel better. It may be a strange cycle, but it happens daily.
To combat this, change your self-talk to be more complimentary. Find things that you like about yourself, that you do well and that other people like about you. Over time, this will slow the flow of anger and replace it with happiness and gratitude.
The third group of enemies are the people around you. Before you can repair the damage, you must work on your communication skills. Chances are good that you have not been very kind to them recently. You have much to apologize for. Starting the conversation with “I’m sorry,” puts people in an accepting state for what is to follow.
Let them know that you appreciate their love and concern while guiding them towards more effective ways of expressing it. Tell them the ways that you prefer to be reminded about your blood sugar, exercise and diet habits. Plan for what to do and what to say when your anger begins to escalate so that damage is not done unnecessarily. This is like creating a safety plan for your anger.
Just because people don’t know about the connection between anger and diabetes doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Talk to your supports and retrace recent history to see if anger has been a growing concern. If so, find the targets of your anger and take the needed steps to improve the situation.
You have too much at stake to stand idle. Give yourself an injection of motivation today.