MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Diabetes is a disease that targets more than just your body. Doctors say it can also take a major toll on your mental health.
The CDC estimates there are more than 37 million people living with diabetes in the U.S.
In Shelby County, 1 in 3 people are living with the disease.
Doctors say a new diagnosis is the beginning of a new life, and the transition into that can be scary and sometimes discouraging.
“I would say it affects about 90 percent of the things I do,” Callie Compton, of Memphis, said.
Type 1 diabetes has been part of Compton’s life since she was diagnosed at age 2.
The professional athlete doesn’t let it stop her from doing what she loves: performing in the circus.
“I don’t remember really a life without it, but I have had a lot of friends that were diagnosed as teenager or young adults, some children, and watching the shifts in people that I knew before and after, it really does turn your world upside down,” Compton said.
A person with diabetes suddenly has to make numerous lifestyle changes.
“They have to start thinking more about their diet. Not just what they eat, but when they eat. The portion. They have to be thinking about their movement. They have to be considering checking blood sugars and taking medication on time,” Laura Shultz, the behavioral health director for Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, said.
Shultz said nearly half of people with the disease will at some point experience diabetes distress.
That’s when a person feels frustrated, defeated or overwhelmed.
She said it’s important to remember these feelings are normal.
“I always encourage people to be gentle with themselves to know this is an adjustment. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. So if all the changes you’re feeling like you need to make feel like too much, start with some small goals,” she said.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with a diabetes diagnoses, Shultz said it is important to reach out to your doctor.
They can help you navigate those feelings and let you know about the resources available to you.
Compton wants people to know the disease does not define you.
She said joining a support group can help people feel like they are not alone.
“It’s such an isolating disease to have to deal with on your own,” she said. “But when you have the support of other people that know exactly what it is life to live with, I think it does have positive effects on your health.”
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