Dr. Mark Heyman is a diabetes psychologist and CEO of the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health. In a recent episode of the Type 1 In Midlife podcast, we delved into the personal experiences and professional expertise that shape his approach to diabetes care. Dr. Heyman shares his own journey with type 1 diabetes since his diagnosis in 1999, highlighting the challenges he faced and the mindset that propelled him forward. From the fear of low blood sugar to the impact on mental health, we explore the various aspects of living with diabetes and the importance of a supportive mindset in managing this chronic condition.
A Diagnosis and a Dream
Dr. Heyman vividly recalls his own diagnosis of type 1 diabetes during his college years. Initially dismissing the symptoms as stress-related, it wasn't until he couldn't ignore his excessive thirst that he sought medical attention. Worried that diabetes would dash his summer plans in France, his endocrinologist reassured him that he could still embark on his trip. With newfound hope and determination, Dr. Heyman defied his fears and embarked on a transformative journey in France, which ultimately shaped his perspective on living with diabetes.
Understanding the Mental Struggles of Living with Diabetes
One of the key stressors that Dr. Heyman addresses is the fear of low blood sugar, a significant concern for many individuals with diabetes. The constant worry of experiencing hypoglycemia can lead to heightened anxiety and compromised quality of life. By acknowledging the impact of this fear and developing strategies to manage it, individuals can regain control over their mental well-being and overall diabetes management.
Living with diabetes inevitably creates a stark contrast between life before and after the diagnosis. Dr. Heyman knows the emotional toll this chronic condition can take on individuals of all ages. From the ups and downs of blood sugar control to the daily management tasks, diabetes can sometimes feel overwhelming. However, Dr. Heyman believes in the power of recognizing challenges while also finding strength and resilience in the face of adversity.
Drawing from his experiences as a psychologist, Dr. Heyman underscores the importance of empathy and support for individuals with diabetes. He acknowledges the unique struggles faced by men and women with type 1 diabetes and emphasizes the similarities between their experiences.
By employing the "Lead with Action" framework, which focuses on understanding and managing emotions, individuals can navigate the emotional complexities of diabetes more effectively.
Breaking Down Barriers to Care
Addressing the barriers to diabetes care, Dr. Heyman sheds light on two primary obstacles:
lack of providers
He highlights the significance of recognizing that diabetes is indeed challenging, and that seeking the support of healthcare professionals and mental health services can make a world of difference. Additionally, he commends the integration of mental health services in children's hospitals across the United States and suggests exploring resources such as his book Diabetes Sucks AND You Can Handle It: Your Guide to Managing the Emotional Challenges of T1D.
Resetting Your Diabetes Mindset
Dr. Heyman shares practical tips for resetting your diabetes mindset.
From tracking blood sugar regularly to remembering that diabetes is just one part of who you are, he encourages individuals to put up guardrails to ensure a healthy mental and emotional state.
Furthermore, he offers valuable insights on dealing with anxiety and depression, emphasizing the importance of self-care and seeking professional help when needed.
Living with diabetes is undeniably challenging, but with the right mindset, support, and strategies, it can be a journey filled with triumphs and growth.
Dr. Mark Heyman's expertise as a diabetes psychologist and his personal experiences with type 1 diabetes illuminate the path to a healthier mental and emotional state. By recognizing the unique struggles and breaking down barriers to care, individuals can reset their diabetes mindset and embrace a life of resilience, self-compassion, and overall well-being. Remember, diabetes is more than just a person—it is an opportunity to rise above and thrive.