The Impact of COVID-19 on African Americans

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By T’ara Smith

Think the coronavirus is the “great equalizer”? Think again. New data on the deaths from coronavirus shows the pandemic is impacting communities of color, specifically African-Americans, at disproportionate rates. African-Americans and other minorities are more likely to have underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and asthma, which contribute to the mortality rate of COVID-19. These underlying conditions stem from health inequalities that range from food accessibility to barriers to healthcare.

African American

Image source: Beyond Type 1

Compared to non-Hispanic whites, Black/African-Americans are 60 percent more likely to have diabetes according to the Office of Minority Health. However, this doesn’t mean minorities are more susceptible to being infected by COVID-19, but that when they are infected they are more likely to die from it.

“It’s not that they’re getting infected more often. It’s that when they do get infected, their underlying medical conditions wind them up in the ICU and ultimately give them a higher death rate. We really do need to address the health disparities that exist in the U.S,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) director and leading expert on the coronavirus pandemic, at a White House briefing on Tuesday.

Recent data reported from cities and states magnifies how dire the pandemic situation has become for African-Americans. In Michigan, African-Americans made up 35 percent of COVID-19 cases and 41 percent of deaths — African-Americans consist of 14 percent of Michigan’s population. Specifically, Detroit, a city with predominantly Black residents, is a hot spot for coronavirus cases. In Chicago, 72 percent of COVID-19-related deaths were Black, who only make up 29 percent of the city’s population. Louisiana has shown a trend nearly identical to Chicago’s.

Evidence shows African-Americans are also having more difficulty getting tested for coronavirus. In early April, Syracuse University reported that while COVID-19 testing is far too low in the United States in general, the testing rates are lower in states with higher percent black populations and poverty rates.

Coronavirus Further Exposes Long-Existing Health and Economic Disparities

The prevalence of chronic health conditions in minorities such as diabetes can be attributed to long-existing barriers to quality of life essentials such as food, health care, and sustainable income. Food deserts, or areas where there is no access to food or quality healthy food, are more abundant in minority neighborhoods. African-Americans are more likely to be uninsured, rely on government insurance, and are less likely to have private insurance compared to their white counterparts, according to the Office of Minority Health. They’re also more likely to have a lower median income. Recent data also shows the wave of millions of job losses is disproportionately affecting minorities.

“It’s jarring to me to hear that African-Americans are disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said Mila Clarke Buckley, Beyond Type 2 Leadership Council member and owner of the Houston-based Hangry Woman website, who has been living with type 2 diabetes since 2016. “We do have to recognize the systemic factors that play a role in this. Even though I have privilege and resources, I don’t feel safe. It has highlighted the importance to me of practicing social distancing, and staying in as much as possible. I don’t want to be in a position where I can’t get the care I need if I were to get the virus.”

Current CDC recommendations to decrease the risks of contracting coronavirus are to stay home and practice social distancing. However, not everyone has the privilege to abide by those guidelines. A report by the Economic Policy Institute based on federal labor data shows Black and Hispanic workers are less likely to be able to work from home.

“Taking public transportation to get to jobs as essential workers because they can’t afford to not work, living in food deserts and having to travel to get groceries, and other issues that have been reported on,” said Dr. Fauci at a press conference.

Constance Brown-Riggs, MsEd, RD, DCES, CDN, discussed another layer to the public health crisis’ impact on minorities: the lack of trust in the healthcare system itself.

African American

Image source: Beyond Type 1

“There are many factors that contribute to health disparities in people of color. One factor is the mistrust of the medical community. Additionally, numerous studies show that health care provider bias also contributes to health care disparities,” said Brown-Riggs. A New York Times article published in January summarized the generations of institutional racism and discrimination towards African-Americans.

“One of the most troubling explanations for mistrust is the Tuskegee experiment, in which poor black men were unknowingly infected with syphilis and allowed to live with the deadly infection so doctors could track the life history of the disease. Black Americans who know of the study report a greater mistrust of medicine and research,” said Brown-Riggs.

Global patient diabetes advocate of Black Diabetic Info and Beyond Type 2 Leadership Council member, Phyllisa Deroze, also echoes a similar sentiment about bias within the healthcare system.

“I’m not surprised that African-Americans are impacted more,” said Deroze, who lives with LADA diabetes. “I have long since said that the coronavirus might not discriminate, but the American Healthcare system has a long history of being biased. Just look at the maternal mortality rate – black women are 3-4 times more likely to die than white women [in childbirth].”

African-Americans and other minorities have also reported experiencing racial discrimination at medical appointments. Among professionals who work with minorities with diabetes, Brown-Riggs says the lack of diversity plays is a factor as well.

Studies show that most health care providers have an implicit bias in terms of positive attitudes toward whites and negative attitudes toward people of color,” says Brown-Riggs. “This bias is particularly worrisome when the majority of people with type 2 diabetes are African American or Hispanic American and the majority of diabetes care and education specialists and nutrition professionals are white.”

Pressing Forward Despite Systemic Barriers

African American

Image source: Beyond Type 1

Still, African-Americans and other minorities with diabetes are taking the steps to lower their risks of getting the novel coronavirus. Paul Ellis, a person with type 2 diabetes living in Cerritos, California, says despite the issues within the healthcare system, he’s going to do what’s necessary to decrease his chances of contracting it. “I try not to let [the health disparities] get to me,” said Ellis. “I’m determined to manage the disease the best I can and have made a lot of progress since I was diagnosed. I lost a lot of weight, and between that, exercise, diet, and meds, I am doing pretty well. I even did a virtual 5k for the first time a couple of weekends ago and even though I was as slow as molasses, I did it to show myself I won’t be beaten.”

Likewise, Deroze is not taking any chances with COVID-19 and says she’s taking the guidelines seriously. However, the stress and anxiety from the COVID-19 have impacted her glucose levels.

“I’m staying indoors and am only leaving the house for an hour walk in the morning,” said Deroze. “After going to the grocery store a week ago, I decided I didn’t want to be around many people. I started to see an increase [in my blood sugar] the second week of quarantine. The lack of my usual exercise routine and the abundance of food in the house contributes to that. I know this is partly due to environmental stress, but this is a lot to deal with at once.” 

Fortunately, the push for telehealth may yield its benefits for those who need to seek care without leaving their homes. Brown-Riggs suggests inquiring about telehealth with healthcare professionals.

“During this COVID-19 pandemic, it’s extremely important for African Americans and other minorities with diabetes to stay in contact with their diabetes treatment team. Under the recently enacted Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, physicians, nurse practitioner (NPs), physician assistants (PAs), nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), and registered dietitians (RDs) or nutrition professionals (RDNs) are permitted to provide telehealth services,” said Brown-Riggs.

She also emphasizes that it’s important to continue with regular self-care behaviors such as eating healthy, being active, and getting regular sleep. For people who are food insecure, check out local food assistance programs and banks. Brown-Riggs warns against scams and misinformation from people looking to capitalize on those most vulnerable to COVID-19.

There are other steps being taken to address this issue from an institutional level. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a news conference that an urgent public-health education and outreach campaign will be launched in minority neighborhoods worst-impacted by the coronavirus.

In early April, California released partial race-based data that did not show a disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on racial minorities — but the bottom line is that we need more data. “Based upon the 37% of the data that’s in, we are not seeing [race and ethnic disparities],” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. “But I caution you, the data is limited. Nothing is more frustrating than the disparities that manifest in relationship to public health. Those issues preceded this crisis and they persist in this crisis.”

The coronavirus crisis is a global pandemic, but its impact will follow the same patterns of health inequality built into systems, institutions, and culture. It’s important to remember that minority communities are already facing disproportionate impacts of COVID-19, with additional barriers to the resources and care needed to mitigate damage caused by the virus.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

The Truth About Diet Soda

Living with diabetes comes with many challenges; we need to constantly know what and how much we eat and drink, and continuously calibrate our medications, like metformin or insulin, accordingly. It can be exhausting. One shining beacon of light (and a delicious thirst-quencher) is diet soda. It’s sweet, it’s refreshing, and it has zero carbohydrates! But recently, more and more research has been released linking diet soda to a plethora of GI issues and health problems (including, surprisingly enough, obesity). So, what’s the deal? Is diet soda a harmless, carbohydrate freebie treat or a danger to one’s health and well-being? Read more to get the scoop.

Many people with diabetes yearn to have a refreshing beverage that won’t affect their blood sugars, and sometimes water just won’t cut it. On days when it feels as though the wind will cause hyperglycemia, nothing is crisper or more enjoyable than enjoying a diet soda–and they’re typically known as “free” food–meaning they don’t require an insulin dose, nor do they raise one’s blood sugar. Seems innocent enough, right? About 1 in 5 Americans drink at least one diet soda per day, according to the CDC, but few can figure out if they’re good or bad for us. What gives?

The Problem

Unfortunately, diet sodas are full of artificial flavors and chemicals, as well as artificial sweeteners, like aspartame and saccharin. A growing body of research links consumption with an increased incidence of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, dementia, stroke, and non-fatty liver disease.

On the other hand, many studies correlating diet soda consumption with chronic health issues have failed to control for other risk factors, like lifestyle (sedentary vs. active) and body mass index (BMI). This causes a selection bias, as the type of person that may be more likely to drink diet soda may already be trying to lose weight (higher BMI) or better control their type 2 diabetes (chronic inflammation from higher glucose numbers). On the whole, no studies have proven causation between diet soda consumption and cancer.

Does Diet Soda Make You Gain Weight?

In short, no, but they can lead to it. A  2012 study showed that the artificial sweeteners in diet soda may change the levels of dopamine in the brain, thus changing the way one’s brain responds to (and craves) sweet flavors. Artificial sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than actual sugar, and if you’re used to drinking the sweet flavor of diet soda, your brain will naturally adapt, and you may start craving sweeter foods as a result. Equal (aspartame) is 160-200 times sweeter than sugar, and Sweet’n’Low (saccharin) is 300-500 times sweeter than natural sugar. This can cause you to eat more foods made with sugar, and gain weight as a result, although these sweeteners have been deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Christoper Gardner, Ph.D., Director of Nutrition Studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center says, “You may find fruit less appealing because it’s less sweet than your soda, and vegetables may become inedible” causing people to reach for more processed foods that contain added sugar and calories.

Additionally, if you’re drinking diet soda, you may feel as though you’re doing something “healthy”, and make up for it by not being as stringent about a healthy diet. A 2014 study showed that overweight and obese people who drank a diet soda ate between 90-200 more calories per day than those who drank sugar-sweetened soda. This explains the phenomenon of patrons ordering fries with their diet soda at fast-food restaurants.

“Diet sodas may help you with weight loss if you don’t overcompensate, but that’s a big if,” Gardner adds.

What Research Is Telling Us

A 2014 study out of Japan found that men who drank diet soda were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t. The study findings even controlled for age, BMI, family history of the disease, and other lifestyle factors. Additionally, a 2017 study of over 2,000 people showed that drinking one diet soda per day tripled one’s risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

Additionally, in 2014, a meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition revealed that one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes rose by 13% for every 12oz can of diet soda they consumed in a day.

Moderation Is Key

While all of these artificial sweeteners are chemicals, they can be part of a healthy diet, per the American Dietetic Association. If you’re replacing sugar-sweetened soda with diet soda, it can be a remarkably easy way to cut down on sugar and calories, but try and maintain a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables as well, and don’t “treat” yourself to fast-food or sugared goodies for “being good” by having a sugar-free soda.

If you’re looking for an afternoon caffeine hit that soda normally provides, try opting for black coffee or tea to avoid the artificial sweeteners. Better yet, try weaning yourself off of soda completely and opting for a healthier, and more natural seltzer water, like La Croix, that doesn’t contain any artificial additives or chemicals.

All told, diet soda isn’t the absolute healthiest thing you can be drinking (read: that’s water), but in moderation, with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, it can be a delightful, carb-free treat. Cheers!

What are your thoughts on diet soda? Are you addicted to the stuff, or try to avoid it at all costs? Share this post and comment below; we love hearing from our readers!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Sugar Summit Backcountry Offers Carb-Conscious Options for Outdoor Adventure

For everyone, and especially for people with diabetes, consistently making healthy food choices is vital to feeling good and staying healthy. This can be especially difficult when spending many hours or days out in nature. Unfortunately, many temperature-stable foods that are marketed for campers, hikers, and alike are often full of preservatives, artificial ingredients and sugar.

Enter Sugar Summit Backcountry, a company focused on delivering healthier and carb-conscious foods to support your outdoor adventures. I received some products to try at no charge for the review and all opinions are my own.

Who They Are

The company was founded by a husband and wife team, Christine and Kevin, and inspired by Christine’s type 1 diabetes diagnosis. The couple had always enjoyed adventuring in nature, but Christine found that there were few carb-conscious options available that she could easily bring along on their trips. So, they aspired to create products that are nutrient-dense, healthy options and are both shelf-stable and delicious:

“We make delicious, nutrient-packed meals for camping, backpacking, or wherever the trail takes you.  We create small-batch, carbohydrate-conscious and high-protein meals adaptable for omnivores and vegans alike, and support sustainable and local ingredients whenever possible.”

Available Products

The company has several different products, including trail mix and cereal, as well as larger meals, like curry chicken, sweet potato stew, and vegan chili.

I sampled the Chia Crunch “Cereal,” Torreys Trail Mix (which is vegan and gluten-free), as well as the Golden Cliffs Curry Chicken.

My favorite product was the trail mix. With only nine all-natural ingredients and plenty of fiber, it was a great combination of sweet and salty, and the high protein and fat content can help in maintaining energy levels during long-duration exercise.

I also really liked the Curry Chicken meal. It was easy to prepare (requiring only hot water to reconstitute) and contains just four wholesome ingredients (plus seasonings). It is low in carbohydrates, high in fiber, and packed with plant-based protein to keep you going. I thought the spice level was perfect and both my husband and three-year-old daughter enjoyed it (OK, she just picked out the peas, but that is a big win in the toddler book)!

Also, the serving sizes were very generous, and I thought the pricing was very reasonable, given the high quality of the ingredients.

You can find the full product page and pricing information here.

Summary

I highly recommend checking out these products if you’re in search of lower-carb and more wholesome options to bring on your next outdoor adventure. Many of these products will appeal to vegetarians and vegans or anyone looking to incorporate more plant-based meals and snacks. Most products are gluten-free as well, so are also a great option for those with sensitivity to gluten and Celiac disease.

As the camping and hiking season kicks off across the country, why not try something new that is both delicious and good for you!

Have you tried this line of foods? Please let us know what you think in the comments below and happy adventuring!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Charlie Kimball and His Driving Force to Success

The COVID-19 outbreak presents unique challenges for those of us living with diabetes.  Charlie Kimball, a professional IndyCar driver and father of two and lives with type 1 diabetes. His sport (and job!) is now on hold, and he is home trying to manage his diabetes, eat healthily and stay fit, all the while adjusting to life as a family of four. Charlie and his wife just had a baby in March, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I thought it would be nice to talk to Charlie about how he is managing despite what is going on in the world.

Charlie, congrats on your new baby! And thank you for taking the time to talk to me!

How long have you been living with type 1 diabetes?

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been living with type 1 diabetes for 17 years. At age 22, my diagnosis felt devastating and I stopped racing mid-season, unsure of how I could possibly continue to pursue a career as a professional racecar driver.

Each year on October 16, when I celebrate my “diaversary” (that is, the anniversary of my diabetes diagnosis), I reflect on the support I’ve received from the diabetes community. They, along with my wife, my healthcare team and my IndyCar family, all play a role in how I navigate and manage my diabetes.

Did your diagnosis play into your choice of becoming a professional race car driver?

Although I was actively pursuing a career as a professional racecar driver before my diagnosis, I believe racing with diabetes empowers me to be an even better driver. Physically, I have become even more in tune with my body and more connected with my team since my diagnosis. I’ve also found it really rewarding to represent people living with diabetes as part of the Novo Nordisk Race with Insulin program to reinforce the idea that diabetes doesn’t have to stop you from following your dreams.

Charlie Kimball, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet

What challenges did you face in this profession due to your type 1 diabetes?

At the time of my diagnosis, it was mid-season while I was racing in Europe and I took some time off to figure out blood sugar testing, insulin management, and how to get back on the track. Thanks to my amazing support system, I was back in a race car three months later and claimed a podium finish in my first race back.

When I decided to move back to the US and race in IndyLights (the feeder system to IndyCar), my endocrinologist, Dr. Anne Peters, met and worked with the IndyCar medical staff to create a plan to get me back behind the wheel.

With the recent news of the first person living with diabetes to be certified by the FAA for a First Class Medical, how great does it feel to know you are the first licensed driver in the history of IndyCar racing?

I first raced in go karts at nine years old and I come from a motorsports family. When I was first diagnosed, a friend helped me to put everything into perspective by pointing out that, while I’d need to manage my diabetes for the rest of my life, it was important – and possible – to get back behind the wheel. I’m really proud of my role as the first licensed driver with diabetes in the history of IndyCar racing, and I’ve never shied away from talking about living with type 1 diabetes. Now, I’m glad to see other drivers out there who are also living with diabetes on the track!

I know from my travels that there are incredible people with diabetes doing inspiring things all over the world. It never ceases to amaze me when I see people with diabetes following their dreams -– whether they are making history in their profession or they are simply accomplishing goals that they may not have considered possible, like running a half marathon

Photo credit: Charlie Kimball

When you heard the virus was picking up speed, what were your first thoughts? Fears? How did you prepare for staying at home?

We recently welcomed my son in March, so we were impacted by some of the same considerations new parents are facing during this time. But, when I held my baby boy for the first time, it was hard to think about anything else other than the love I had for my new family of four.

There have been a lot of changes over the last few weeks and while I’d love to be racing right now, this has been a good time to connect with my family, and an opportunity to plan for future races with both my healthcare and race teams.

Even though I am home, I am still committed to staying active, eating healthy and paying close attention to my blood sugar. Also, right now, a crucial part of my management plan, is making sure that I have enough medication at home and keeping track of when I need to reorder. Having a supply of insulin on hand is not a luxury. It’s a necessity, especially at this time. My partners at Novo Nordisk are working very hard to ensure patients still have access to their medicine. If anyone is having problems affording their medicine during this time, please visit NovoCare.com for information on how Novo Nordisk can help

I’m sure racing comes with a lot of stress and adrenaline. How do you recommend people handle unpredictable blood sugars due to the stress during this time?

Yes, you’re right, racing does come with a lot of stress and adrenaline. I manage that through careful planning every race weekend to ensure that my blood sugar remains in range. But everyone has their own stress and we all handle it differently. The everyday realities of work, family, and life inevitably create that, and I encourage everyone to just have a plan in place for all different situations.

As for our current situation, I’ve found that I’m handling it like everyone else, by washing my hands often and practicing social distancing. It’s been important for me to stay in constant contact with my healthcare team, so they can help me to adjust my diabetes management routine appropriately.

I keep a close eye on my continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and that allows me to make small adjustments throughout the day if needed. I also take time to exercise, laugh with my wife and children, and connect with people who matter to me – albeit virtually these days. This all helps reduce that stress.

Charlie Kimball, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet

How do you plan ahead for a race so that your blood sugars won’t get in the way?

I work very closely with my healthcare team on my plan for each race. We track everything from my workouts that week to my meal before I get on the track. Using this data to make a plan comes naturally to me – it’s the same way I approach driving a race car. On the track, my race engineers, strategists, and I utilize around 50-70 sensors that feed into the central brain of my car. They are calibrated so that I can monitor every detail during a race – think g-force, speed, throttle, RPM, tire pressure – and, importantly, my blood sugar levels. My blood sugar levels from my CGM are tracked and displayed on a custom screen that sits on my steering wheel and is relayed back to my team in the pit lane so that we can make adjustments as needed.

With IndyCar racing on hold, what are you doing to stay active and healthy? Both mind and body?

I’ve partnered with my team to develop a modified workout routine while I’m at home. While I’m not racing, it’s still so important for me to stay in shape so I can do my best when I’m back on the track. Beyond staying active, I’m focused on eating nutrient-rich foods, tracking my blood sugar levels, and taking my medication.

Technology has always been an important part of my diabetes management. With it, I’m able to monitor calories, carbs, hydration, and of course, my blood sugar. Lately, while I’m at home, using my CGM has been a helpful way to watch my blood sugar in real time throughout the day. For me, keeping a close eye on my numbers and taking a mindful, disciplined approach to my diabetes management has been the key to my success during this time.

I am also using this time to connect with my family as we adjust to life as a family of four. I’m especially grateful for my wife and mid-morning naps for keeping the Kimball household happy and healthy during this time!

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me, Charlie. Congrats on your success as an IndyCar driver and as well as on becoming a family of four!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Minding Your Mental Health During COVID-19

I recently saw someone on social media refer to this as a “great pause’ and while I think it is wonderful that many people are viewing this time as an opportunity to spend more time with their family and to appreciate the simpler things that life has to offer, there are many people going through a very different, and traumatic, journey.

In just the United States alone, 1 out of every 5 people suffer from a mental illness and 1 out of every 25 people suffer from a severe mental illness. For those who are afflicted, it is oftentimes difficult to get through the average day without feelings of anxiousness, irritability, depression, etc. Add in a global pandemic and many of what they were told were “irrational” fears have now come to life. The feelings of isolation, fear, grief, loneliness, financial worry are all very real right now and we need to find a way to cope.

So how do we take care of our mental health while also acknowledging that it is a very scary time and that there is a lot that we don’t know? That is an uneasy feeling for anyone, let alone someone who struggles with mental health issues. Like all other things in life, I do believe it comes down to balance.

Routine

“The secret of your success is found in your daily routine” by John C. Maxwell is a great quote that is quite applicable at this time. I find that if I get up and get dressed, I have a more productive day than if I lie around in my pajamas. Also, keeping to a schedule (while of course allowing flexibility) for meals will not only keep you focused on what you are doing but can also make for more predictable blood sugars. Just these small steps can lead to less mental anguish.

Prescribe Yourself a Daily Dose of News

Try to limit your news consumption to a level that works for you. Many of us wind up leaving the television on and that can be very unhealthy to listen to and watch all day long. Either allow yourself a certain amount of time watching or pick a few times throughout the day to do a quick check-in. Also, make sure you pick one or two reliable sources that you trust and stick to those news mediums.

Stick with Your Mental Health Care Plan

If you are on medication, make sure you continue to take your medication as prescribed by your healthcare provider. If you are experiencing difficulty or feel the medication isn’t working properly, make sure to call your doctor as they are still available to take their patient’s phone calls and available for teletherapy. And if you haven’t sought professional help in the past but feel the need to do so, check with your health insurance to see what affordable options are available to you. There are also free hotlines that you can use:

  • Mental Health America Hotline: Text MHA to 741741. Mental Health America is a nationwide organization that provides assistance through this text line. You will be linked to someone who can guide you through a crisis or just provide information.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-8255. Crisis intervention and free emotional support are available, which is helpful when you need confidential assistance during a time of emotional distress for you or a loved one. The helpline is open 24/7, and a live online chat is available as well.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741. Specialized crisis counselors are just a text message away on this free, confidential 24-hour support line. To further protect your privacy, these messages do not appear on a phone bill. The text line also provides services and support if you are upset, scared, hurt, frustrated, or distressed.

Control What You Can

Many of us are sitting at the edge of our seat on a daily basis waiting for the next big piece of news to be released. Will there be antibody testing available soon near me? Are they opening my state sooner than I’d like? Are my children’s schools going to open back up this year? While these are all valid questions and concerns, we cannot allow them to take up too much space in our minds. Whatever the case will be, you will navigate the situation and do what is best for you and your family. A great quote to remember is “If it’s out of your hands, it deserves freedom from your mind too.” – Ivan Nuru ”

mental health

Photo credit: Sandis Helvigs (Unsplash)

Keep Your Mind and Body Active

This hasn’t been easy for any of us despite what your experience has been. Whether you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one or simply needing a ten-minute break from your toddler, your emotions are valid. Give yourself a few minutes a day to have a small pity party but then try to move on. Get active by taking a bike ride, going for a walk or take a road trip and get lost on a new adventure.  Exercise your mind by staying connected to friends and family. And when you’re alone, try out a challenging crossword puzzle or start a journal. Keeping busy will not only keep you from feeling lonely, but it will also be beneficial to your overall wellbeing.

This pandemic is affecting us all differently but there is no doubt it has been mentally and emotionally challenging for all. Make sure to acknowledge that while mental illnesses may be invisible, they are very much real and should be treated with care. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to make yourself a priority during this challenging time.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

How to Avoid the Quarantine 15

As most Americans approach their second full month of quarantine (with widespread shelter-in-place orders in all but a handful of states), with playgrounds, pools, recreational centers and gyms closed, many may be wondering how they can avoid the dreaded, “quarantine 15” that people have been joking about on the internet lately.

If you’ve been consumed with stress-eating and low step counts are haunting your days, take heart: there are some simple ways to get you back on track (and fitting into jeans again soon). Here are our top tips to stay healthy during this time:

Adhere to a Regular Eating Schedule

If you have kids at home that you’re trying to homeschool, pets that need attention, and competing Zoom schedules with your spouse, nothing feels normal. It’s easy to slowly slide from your regular routine of, “quick workout, small breakfast, shower” to drinking coffee and panic reading the news ‘till noon, and then storming the kitchen once mid-afternoon hits. If you can stay on a regular eating schedule for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, by the time evening (and Netflix) time hits, you won’t be starved for calories and make poor choices.

Don’t Treat Every Day Like a Friday Night

If you’re like me, you eat remarkably healthy during the week, but definitely look forward to your Friday night glass of wine, as well as relaxed eating standards during the weekend (I can never say no to a Saturday ice cream outing). Once shelter-in-place orders hit, I started treating every day like a Friday night: wine and nachos one day, a margarita and pizza the next. This wasn’t good for my blood sugars or waistline. Even though these times are not normal, if you can carve out space for little treats only once in a while to retain some sense of normalcy, you’ll feel a lot better in the long run, and your blood sugars will also thank you.

Get Movement Every Day

Gyms may be closed, but no one has canceled nature. One silver lining of this pandemic is that it’s hitting during the most beautiful time of year. Flowers are blooming, and temperatures are mild and warm. This is the perfect time to take a bike ride, go on more jogs, or take a nightly walk after dinner. There are also plenty of online options for yoga, pilates, or cardio classes on YouTube. Take advantage of time saved from no commute, and cultivate a morning exercise routine instead!

Get Creative in the Kitchen

It might be tempting to get pizza every day or order takeout (and hello, it’s way easier!), but try and take advantage of this time at home by getting creative in the kitchen. Remember that Vitamix you got as a wedding gift that’s collecting dust in the basement? Or that juicer you ordered during a cleanse phase that you’ve never really touched? Try and buy one new vegetable a week and create a brand new recipe around that. Or order a recipe book online and work your way through it with your family. Vegetables like garlic scapes, jicama, watermelon radishes, and fiddlehead ferns are just a few delicious vegetables begging to be tried that you may have never even heard of!

Photo credit: Katee Lue (Unsplash)

Find an Outlet for Your Stress

Often times when we go to snack, we’re not *actually* hungry, but bored, tired, or stressed. Try, for a few days, to respond to hunger cues, eating only when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. This can be hard, because as people with diabetes, we normally eat in response to a high or low blood sugar, and not to our hunger cues, but try it out. Also, supplement your outlet for stress from eating to a healthy activity like meditation, journaling, or gentle yoga. Other outlets for stress can be listening to a podcast, painting, or dancing in your kitchen. Even if you’re not looking to lose weight, your mental health will thank you. This will also become especially helpful when treating lows; if you have an existing outlet for unwanted stress, you’re less likely to over-treat them, and can prevent the blood sugar rollercoaster.

Have you noticed weight gain since the start of COVID-19, or are you healthier than ever? How has quarantine affected your lifestyle? Share this post and comment below; we love hearing from our readers!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Georgia D-Mom Shares Concerns as Economy Reopens

As the country slowly resumes activities and finds its “new normal,” this could look different for everyone. We spoke to one mom who parents a child with type 1 diabetes about what the transition may look like for their family. 

Hi Teresa, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. The COVID-19 pandemic has left us all in fear, especially for those who are elderly or have pre-existing conditions…and for those who love them. Knowing that your son, Bauer, fits this demographic adds an extra layer to this difficult time.  

I know that you live in Georgia and your state has reopened the economy. This means life is going back to “normal.” I thought it would be nice for our readers, especially those who are “type 3” and love someone who is living with diabetes (and other conditions)  to hear a perspective of a mother who is navigating her new normal while also keeping her son’s condition of utmost concern.

At what age was your son, Bauer, diagnosed and how old is he now?

Bauer was diagnosed just after his sixth birthday, and right before starting 1st grade. August 2015. It will be five years this August.

How did your family initially handle the diagnosis? How involved is your son is his diabetes management?

I was in shock. He had been visiting his dad for four weeks over the summer and when he came back he exhibited what I know now are classic symptoms–weight loss, excessive thirst, peeing all the time… I looked up his symptoms and didn’t believe what I was seeing. Though I knew people growing up who had type 1, my diabetes knowledge was mostly based on type 2. I took him to the doctor who immediately admitted him with a blood sugar of over 700. I was terrified and shocked that there weren’t some better treatments for diabetes than shots and finger pokes. 

My son has been attending diabetes Camp (Camp Kudzu) since the beginning. That has really helped him take some ownership over his management. He has good days and bad days, like everyone. I try to strike a balance, where he is empowered to manage but knows he has me to help him. It’s a huge burden for a child.

Once you heard COVID-19 was picking up speed in your area, what was the first thing you did to prepare? 

The first thing I did was get refills of Bauer’s prescription for 90 days.  I had read that there would be no disruptions with supply chains, but that insurers had also loosened guidelines regarding getting scripts early. Since at that time, I was not sure what a lockdown would look like, I wanted to make sure we had everything he needed.

What extra precautions are you taking given that Bauer is living with type 1 diabetes?

Though I have seen some kids playing in the neighborhood, Bauer has not played with others except his siblings. He has seen neighborhood friends from a distance. Since the state is one of the first to open, I am waiting for another couple of weeks to see if there will be a second surge. I not only have to protect Bauer, but also my 82-year-old mom who lives with us.

Bauer doing “home school” | Photo credit: Teresa Acosta

I know this is a scary time for all and especially for children. What have you told your son about what is happening and how is he handling it?

We have talked about what is going on, but have avoided the news. Several times, Bauer has come to me in tears, scared about getting coronavirus. I assure him that we are taking all the precautions and that we just need to keep doing what we are doing–social distancing and washing hands. And we cuddle a lot. We stay pretty busy and distracted during the day, so these moments happen usually around bedtime.

I am sure you have been very diligent about protecting your family and your son’s health up to now. Since Georgia is back up and running, how do you feel about going back to living your lives? 

I have moments of feeling confident that everything will be OK, and moments of pure anxiety. Things changed so rapidly and we still have no vaccine or proven treatments, I’m not sure we will really get back to normal. My job has been affected–I am furloughed for 2-3 months and the kid’s schools are closed and camps have cancelled sessions through June. “Normal” events like swim team are cancelled.  It will take me a while to do things like eat in a restaurant and we will avoid situations where we gather with people we do not know well.

You must have mixed emotions about people going back to their everyday lives. What have you observed so far, are people out and about? Obeying social distancing rules?

I have noticed an increase in traffic and also stores are again limiting the number of items you can buy of meat and hand soap, and sanitizer. I have also noticed an alarming number of people who do not wear any face covering or mask and do not respect the 6 feet apart rule.  People seem very comfortable while the number of new diagnoses looks to be increasing. I don’t think the majority of folks are “going back to normal,” but I think people are more inclined to get together with friends and neighbors outside while respecting the social distance rules. On my Facebook feed I see people going hiking, boating and kayaking and enjoying the nice weather we are having. There was less of that just a few weeks ago.

Will you be going right back to your daily routines or will you take extra precautions and if so, for how long?

We will continue taking precautions. Although I think cases will go down in the summer, I think we will be right back in a difficult situation come flu season.

Are you fearful of there being a second wave of COVID-19 in your area?

Absolutely. We are maintaining shelter at home rules for at least the next 2 weeks until I can see what will happen now that the state is opening up.

Are your schools opening back up? How does your son feel about going back? 

Schools are closed for the remainder of the year.  He does not like school–so it has been a relief for him to be able to stay home.  Stressful for me–but less for him.

Has your son’s school communicated any new practices to prevent transmission? 

We have not been given any information about schools opening in August. Depending on what happens with my job, I may consider looking at some of the state’s online school options.

I am sure this time has been very trying for you personally. How do you make sure to take care of your own wellbeing? What advice can you give other caregivers in your situation?

I think it is incredibly important to take time for self-care.  I try to take a walk every morning before the kids wake up and spend time connecting to friends or watching a TV show by myself, reading a book out on the patio–things I find relaxing. It’s important to take care of your own mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.

Is there is one piece of advice you would offer to spouses, parents or anyone else with loved ones with preexisting conditions or other health issues who are going through the same thing?

I would say do the important things like avoiding crowds and hand washing and wearing some kind of face-covering when doing necessary things like grocery shopping, but don’t live in fear. Find ways to connect to others, get lots of fresh air and sun, exercise and be creative. Try something new you have wanted to try, but maybe not had the time. Something that has really helped us is trying a new hobby as a family. Bauer and I have done a lot of gardening together. My daughter has taken up painting. My other son is riding his bike a lot. I think finding something to give purpose to your day is important. Cut each other some slack. We all deal with stress differently. And don’t be afraid to ask for outside help. Many counseling centers have shifted to telemedicine.

Bauer planting his favorite veggies | Photo credit: Teresa Acosta

If there is one positive to come out of this crisis, what would it be? I think we could all use a silver lining!

This whole situation has been tough for sure. But it has also made us stop and enjoy some of the most important things in life. In the spring, I would normally be rushing everywhere. Rushing from work to soccer practices as a mom and as the coach, rushing to AM and PM swim team practices, securing sitters to watch Bauer when I cannot be there, preparing for neighborhood events like the pool opening, spending every weekend at soccer fields and trying to get a load of laundry done in between everything, often eating on the run because there was no time to cook. It has been a blessing for us to slow life down, enjoy our home, and eat meals that I actually cook. I am not sure I ever want to return to an overcommitted schedule!

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I hope you and your family continue to remain safe and healthy!

**

What will your transition to the “new normal” look like? Will you be more cautious than what is recommended? Do you feel confident in returning to some activities? Please share with us in the comments!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Parenting, Working, and Diabetes During the Coronavirus Pandemic

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Cheryl Alkon

For some, school cancelations and working from home have added stress that can make diabetes management even more difficult. Here are the perspectives and strategies of several parents who are navigating this environment

With COVID-19 spreading through the United States, every state in the country has closed public and private elementary, middle and high schools. As a result, many of us are living and working at home full time with our kids.

How are you overseeing your diabetes during this time? Several parents with diabetes shared what they’re doing, how they’re managing, and their best advice.

Go Easy on Yourself

Ellen Sheng, of New Jersey, pulled her 11- and 6-year old sons out of their schools three days before the schools closed on March 13 for at least a month. While the fifth grader had online instruction the day after the schools shut, the younger child had a week off from any school-based learning. Sheng’s husband is also working from home during this period.

“I’ve been trying to come up with lessons and activities while also juggling work deadlines,” says Sheng, a financial journalist. “Between the lack of exercise (I usually go to the gym), and all the stress, my numbers have been trending high. I activated my ‘stress’ basal setting on my insulin pump, which is usually reserved for that time of the month or visits from my mom. I’ve still had to do a lot of corrections. I guess I need a special ‘pandemic’ basal setting.”

Sheng suggests focusing on what you can to help ease into what is admittedly a historical and unprecedented period in time. “It’s only been a few days with everyone home, so we are still figuring things out,” she says. “I’ve been focused on getting enough sleep, meditating, carving out time for exercise such as walks with the kids and doing a short high-intensity interval training workout outdoors with my husband, and watching some comedy. I’m also trying to keep to my usual diet instead of stress eating, which I’m prone to do. It’s starting to help: I went back to my usual basal setting today [after about a week of kids being home].”

Take It One Day at a Time, and Be Realistic

Focus on what you can control, advises Theresa Hastings in Denver, Colorado. Her kids are 9 and 6 and have been home since March 13. Overseeing the stress of the pandemic, unexpected homeschooling for her kids with learning differences (autism and ADHD), stocking the pantry, cancelled vacations, and ensuring she has enough diabetes medications on hand, “has taken me from great diabetes management to less than optimal management,” she said. “The entire thing is stressful from top to bottom.”

For supervising her kids’ online learning, Hastings broke the process down into manageable steps. She took the school’s lessons and divided them into daily checklists. That way, her kids can see exactly what they need to do, and once they finish, “know they can play as if it were the weekend,” she says. To work around her son’s hatred of journal writing, which is expected in school but causes a battle and tears at home (and makes Hastings’ blood sugars skyrocket), “I adapted that into something my son would enjoy, which is writing letters to friends and family on a topic with three things about that topic. I communicated with the teacher to make sure my change met her expectations.” The adaptation has worked both for her son and his teacher, and has helped Hastings keep her glucose levels stable.

Making things reasonable helps lower stress levels and contributes to more manageable blood sugars. “While I’d love to do so many amazing Pinterest learning projects and experiments with them, I know my limitations in this current situation,” she says. “I recognize I don’t have the bandwidth to put the activities together and execute them. I’d rather use my creativity to break their lessons into something they won’t fight me on. I also recognize that letting them watch Bill Nye the Science Guy for their science lesson is OK. We don’t have to build papier-maché volcanoes.”

Develop and Maintain Routines

Melissa Lee lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where California’s governor said on March 17 that all schools would likely remain closed through fall of 2020. While Lee works from home for a remote/distributed company and while her diabetes management is already part of her routine, her 10- and 8-year old have been home since March 16, “and their rather robust independent study coursework that our schools sent home has been our biggest challenge,” she says. “I find that keeping to our routine has been key: mealtimes, food types, snacking behavior and bedtime. The more we can feel like business as usual, the more predictable my diabetes will be.”

Leaning into the familiar is a way to foster normalcy when things are very much not normal now, says Lee. “Accept that there will be some things that can be controlled, like your routine and behaviors, and some things that can’t, like your stress level and how that may impact your glucose levels.” While having family in close quarters may make it harder to spend time on yourself, she says, “consider how you might use this time to nurture some new habits without the pressures of having to be somewhere.”

We’re All in This Together

Know that everyone is doing the same as you—living with the same pandemic situation, working from home, parenting kids—and even if everyone you know doesn’t have diabetes, just about everyone has something they are concerned about, whether that is another health condition, concern for family or friends with health issues, economic worries, and so on. Do what you can to manage stress.

“Stress is the main contributor to fluctuating glucose levels,” said Shannon Brumley in Boston. At work, she directly oversees a staff of two and indirectly oversees a staff of ten. “To manage stress, I ensure my staff and I are comfortable taking breaks—some to tend to children,” she said. Exercise, particularly for those in sedentary jobs, is also important. “Not getting outside, especially when the weather is crummy, will compound stress levels. Today, when the weather was nicer, I took advantage of the day and my kids and I jumped on our trampoline and took our dogs out for a much-needed walk.”

Overall, know you are likely doing your best. “Everyone is in the same boat and employers should be adjusting expectations and ensuring family comes first,” Brumley said. “I am very fortunate to be able to work from home and still be available to my kids during these trying times.”

About Cheryl

Cheryl Alkon is a seasoned writer and the author of the book Balancing Pregnancy With Pre-Existing Diabetes: Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby. The book has been called “Hands down, the best book on type 1 diabetes and pregnancy, covering all the major issues that women with type 1 face. It provides excellent tips and secrets for achieving the best management” by Gary Scheiner, the author of Think Like A Pancreas. Since 2010, the book has helped countless women around the world conceive, grow and deliver healthy babies while also dealing with diabetes.

Cheryl covers diabetes and other health and medical topics for various print and online clients. She lives in Massachusetts with her family and holds an undergraduate degree from Brandeis University and a graduate degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

She has lived with type 1 diabetes for more than four decades, since being diagnosed in 1977 at age seven.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Can You Eat That? How One Simple Question Stigmatizes People with Diabetes

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Mila Buckley

Mila writes about the shame that people with diabetes can experience when people question or misunderstand their food choices

Most of us with diabetes have heard four words that automatically make us cringe: Can you eat that?

I’ve heard it more times than I can count, both from people close to me, and people I’ve never met on the internet. As someone with type 2 diabetes, the question is almost always a loaded one, and it took me a while to figure out how to handle it.

When people think about type 2 diabetes, the first thing they believe is that someone usually caused it themselves (because they didn’t eat the right food or get enough exercise). But, though type 2 diabetes is preventable, it still has its roots in genetics.

Why I felt shame when someone questioned my food choices

Fielding questions about my food or what I chose to eat always made me feel shame. I wanted to hide what I ate from people, or I was apprehensive about large group meals because I didn’t want anyone to judge my personal choices without knowing the background. Though I’m continually making my next move based on data I see in my glucose meter, I didn’t want to explain myself constantly.

Food

Image source: Mila Buckley

The first time someone ever asked about what I was eating, a few things crossed my mind:

  • Am I being judged?
  • Is everyone always watching my eating habits this closely?
  • Do I have to change my diet depending on who I’m around?
  • Am I doing something wrong?

“Can you eat that” often feels like finger-pointing or blaming.

It also furthers the stigma that managing diabetes is all about what we put in our mouths, rather than the many external factors that affect blood sugar levels in our daily lives.

What can you do when someone seems judgmental about your plate?

Although you might feel hurt or criticized by the question, what can you do when someone asks if you can have what you’re eating?

  • Give them the benefit of the doubt. The question might come from a place of curiosity, caring, or genuine interest.
  • Be honest. Talk about why you chose your meal and use the moment to educate the person on your goals. Is it based on how your blood sugar has reacted to the same foods before? Do you just want to enjoy your meal? Sharing that information can satisfy their curiosity, and you’re able to steer the conversation.
  • Don’t explain if you don’t feel like it. It’s OK to say, “I’m uncomfortable with your comment,” and move on to something else. You’re not required to explain if you’d rather be private.

So, the big question: what can someone with diabetes eat?

I’m not here to judge that. Although a low-carb diet works well for me, I’m a firm believer that your diabetes may vary. What works for me doesn’t always work for everyone else, and vice versa. Your diet should align with your health goals; your care team is integral in setting those goals with you and adjusting them along the way.

Just remember, it’s okay to say “Yes, I can eat that” without feeling guilt or shame about your choices – especially when you have information (like blood glucose patterns) to back up your decisions.

About Mila

Mila Clarke Buckley is a type 2 diabetes patient advocate and the founder of The Hangry Woman blog, that shares approachable food and lifestyle tips to help others living with type 2 diabetes. HangryWoman.com covers topics like diabetes management, shame and stigma, cooking, and self-care from the perspective of someone living with the chronic condition. Mila’s work has been featured by The New York Times, Healthline, WebMD, GE, Health and Diabetic Living Magazine.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Type 1 Therapist’s Tips for Coping and Grieving During Hard Times

The COVID-19 pandemic has left us all in fear, especially for those who are elderly or have pre-existing conditions. Knowing that we fit this demographic adds an extra layer to this challenging time. It is more important than ever to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. We spoke to a licensed associate marriage and family therapist, Allison Nimlos, about managing during this difficult period.

Hi Allison, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.  I know you are a licensed associate marriage and family therapist and very active within the diabetes online community and do your part to advocate, educate, and support others dealing with this disease.

I follow you on Instagram and have appreciated some of your COVID-19 related posts helping people to deal with our new normal. I thought it would be nice for our readers to hear the perspective of a mental health professional and get some ideas on how we can cope with the situation and keep ourselves sane!

How long have you been living with type 1 diabetes?

97 years. Oh, wait. It just feels that way. I’ve had type 1 diabetes for 26 years.

Photo credit: Allison Nimlos

Did your diagnosis play into your choice of becoming a marriage and family therapist?

Absolutely! Originally, I thought about becoming a nurse or dietitian because I want to become a diabetes educator, but I decided to pursue counseling because I wanted to have the education to help with the mental health toll that I and many others have experienced. I also love the systemic view MFTs [marriage family therapists] take because diabetes affects more than the person with the broken pancreas.

Now I work as both a therapist serving residents of Minnesota with mental health and relational issues, and as a diabetes coach, where I merge my counseling skills with my passion and experience in diabetes education to focus on the three S’s: self-talk, self-care, and sustainable strategies for diabetes management.

When you heard the virus was picking up speed, what were your first thoughts? Fears? How did you prepare for staying at home?

When I received confirmation that supply lines were not going to be disrupted, it definitely quelled a lot of nerves (although I was very happy I could order a 3-month supply of insulin and pump supplies right at the start — it was just lucky timing!). I think my concern was actually with the misinformation around PWDs [people with diabetes] being immunocompromised — we’re not.

A lot of the adjustments have come with evaluating and navigating what changes need to be made, and making decisions around the process of how things get done. I think it’s important to strive for as much normalcy as we can (regular sleep, healthy eating, work/life balance, etc.) because our basic needs need to be met, while remembering that this is not normal, and it’s not going to feel that way.

Photo credit: Allison Nimlos

I know a lot of us are stressed…very stressed. How do you suggest people cope with these emotions? 

I think stress often comes from wanting to control things that are out of our control, so recognizing our power can help. Making a list of things that you are in charge of deciding (how do I want to protect myself when I go out), vs. things that you aren’t in your control (how other people dress) can keep you focused where your attention is most useful.

Many of us try to anticipate what’s going to happen next, and that’s also something that is out of our control. I could spend a lot of time thinking and planning, and then be worried about whether or not I was right, and then spending more time worried that I’m wrong… Or I could just focus on today and this week and making only the decisions that need to be made right now.

Many people have found their blood sugars all over the place amidst the crisis. What do you do to stay on top of your management during this challenging time? 

This is where the mindset and management overlap comes into play! We have to recognize that things are different, and pretending they aren’t is a recipe for disaster. Observe your blood sugar patterns and your lifestyle patterns. What sorts of things are your blood sugars, your energy levels, your mood asking for? What changes can you make to your management to see improvement? When we don’t adapt to our changing needs, it raises our anxiety and stress because we end up battling diabetes using strategies that are no longer sufficient.

For me, I have noticed that my blood sugars are trending much higher lately. It could be less activity, it could be our meals, it could be the low-level but constant stress that I have. Some things I’m working on are changing my insulin settings on my pump, and also making a plan to get some more regular exercise. I’m also making a point to review my Dexcom Clarity regularly to see how those adjustments go.

Many people are staying home. Some are lucky enough to be with family and/or friends; others are doing this all alone. What is your advice to those people who may be feeling very lonely and in despair?

Connection is key. Loneliness, scientifically, really is unhealthy for people. But social distancing does not mean socializing at a distance. People do need to stay home and away from people! Make plans to do things virtually, like attending online meet-ups, calling parents and friends regularly. You’re right, it isn’t the same, and that sucks, but it’s what we have and better than complete cut-off. I encouraged my clients to do an activity with friends and family virtually, such as watching a TV show together or eating a meal together. Making shared memories is a big part of how we feel connected.

Photo credit: Allison Nimlos

On the other hand, many are stuck home with spouses and children for weeks on end and are starting to get a little cranky. What is the best way for families to enjoy this time while respecting each other’s space?

Designated time for solo activities and hobbies, such as reading quietly, putting a movie on for the kids, taking a long shower or bath, or even going outside to a deck or balcony.

I live in New York and haven’t left my house in over three weeks besides to a park to exercise. What are you doing to keep busy, stay active, and keep your spirits lifted?

My 2.5-year old loves to go on walks but hasn’t seemed to notice that we don’t go farther than 2 blocks. We keep a fairly regular schedule with online games, arts and crafts, baking, his toys, reading, watching TV, and thankfully, naptime. I also stay connected with regular virtual meet-ups, including one that I host on Wednesday nights at 8 pm EST.

These are difficult times. Even after the COVID-10 virus dies down, come the warm weather, we will feel the effect of it for years. Many people are losing their jobs and wondering how they will stay afloat. What is your advice on how to stay positive?

Before we can move into positivity and meaning-making, we first have to grieve. It IS okay to be sad and angry and any other emotions you’re feeling. It’s a really big deal that has happened to people, and I don’t think we should feel pressured to feel anything we don’t. They are powerful messengers and need to be listened to, but we also need to make sure they aren’t driving the car the whole time. I try to remember that I have gone through hard times before, and I can get through another. And again, to not try to overpredict how bad or good something is going to be. It’s easy to think “worst-case scenario” — but what if everything works out for the best? We spend very little time sitting in hope.

I might be biased, but I highly recommend finding a therapist to work through the grief, loss, and trauma that comes with an experience like this. We are still available! You can find a therapist in your state (because we can’t practice outside of where we are licensed) by visiting a therapist directory like PsychologyToday.com.

Unfortunately many are dealing with the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19. Dealing with death is hard enough, but during a time like this when you can’t be with your loved one for support how do you recommend people going about mourning? It is a unique time for sure.

How to properly mourn is a question a lot of people in grief ask and it’s one thing most therapists shy away from. There isn’t a process or a procedure, but there are themes and commonalities (hence the 5 stages of grief — which is more of a description for common elements than anything). Anger is going to be a really common emotion right, and that makes sense. Bargaining too. And a bunch of other ones the stages don’t include (because it’s not all-encompassing!). There are no shoulds for grief, no timelines.
But I will say that it is absolutely okay – necessary maybe – to name and feel all the emotions, even the ones we don’t understand and don’t feel we have a right to. People who have lost someone, it’s going to be clear and understood they are grieving. But we have all lost something, our old way of life, and that can also bring up the same feelings of grief, even if not tangibly connected to an individual. However it makes sense to care for your grief is going to be okay right now.

Thank you, Allison, for taking the time to talk to me and for all you do for our community! I hope you and your family stay safe and healthy!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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