Today we welcome a new guest blogger – Michael Goldman, Director of Fundraising and Membership here at Diabetes Australia – Vic
Diabetes and depression; why don’t people want to talk about it? Are they scared of the reaction they might receive if they ask someone with diabetes ‘how are you?’. Is it that those without diabetes do not understand the health burden of diabetes or is it simply that other chronic illnesses seem to consume their thoughts? The fact of the matter is the public has their tongues tied over diabetes and are too worried about upsetting people as they try to untangle them.
This issue cannot be ignored anymore. I have worked in the diabetes space for over three years now and in this time I have grown strong, personal relationships with individuals who have diabetes. Their friendships are my steady reminder of how diabetes has impacted their lives, from checking blood glucose levels over a coffee to preparing to travel overseas with their families during holiday periods. I have seen how diabetes can affect an individual and it simply cannot continue to be overlooked in the emotional health space.
Diabetes and depression are closely connected. One in four people will experience depression at one point in their adult lives and for people with diabetes the risk of depression more than doubles. Plus, having depression can increase the likelihood of developing diabetes complications further down the track.
Today is R U OK?Day. It’s a day that reminds us to check in with family and friends with the aim of helping those who may be struggling with emotional issues, and I want to highlight the importance of acknowledging the connection between diabetes and depression. Today, I will be encouraging others to think about the wellbeing of friends and colleagues and reflecting on my own emotional health. I’m not an expert, but I don’t have to be. I am happy to listen to concerns without judgment and make sure that I take the time to follow up.
We know that individuals living with diabetes can live long and happy lives. But it is important to remember that diabetes can be an exhausting, unrelenting chronic condition that is unique in its effects on the body. Plus, the stigma that is often connected with diabetes creates an additional load. Checking in with someone and encouraging a sense of openness around how they speak about their health could have a great impact.
In a way, I think that the politically correct nature of our society has us backed into a corner. What can we say? What can’t we say? What is the correct term? Enough is enough. By simply showing someone you care you will allow them the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings. So next time, take the politically correct gag from your mouth and ask someone who you know is living with diabetes how they are feeling. And mean it.
Michael Goldman is the Director of Fundraising and Membership at DA–Vic. You can follow him on Twitter @MGoldmanDAVic. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog are his own.