Is Diabetes Perfectionism Hindering Your HbA1c and Controlling your Life?
In this yoga therapy inspired video, I will teach you my favorite mindful strategies for overcoming diabetes perfectionism and optimizing your mental wellbeing with type 1 diabetes and beyond.
I’ve been type 1 for over twenty years, so I remember a time when testing took over 30 seconds and insulin pumps were a rare and highly coveted item. Fast forward to 2019 and life for the person with type 1 diabetes has improved tremendously. We now have continuous glucose monitors which enable us to observe blood glucose readings in real time. Many systems integrate with an insulin pump which will self-adjust to the CGM reading. Parents can view their child’s glucose readings when they are at school. Long-acting insulin works so darn well. We can see the graphs and trends related to food, exercise, hormones and make more educated decisions. Thanks to these achievements we can live more meaningful and more courageous lives with diabetes.
Despite the advances the system is not perfect. I think we know this but still expect it to be. Diabetes TMI is part of the problem. We know too much. Alarms, social media impressions, images of arrows pointing every which way. It can be exhausting. The modern-day person with type 1 diabetes is always plugged in, turned on and eventually without recharging, can quickly burn out. Without self-awareness, CGM’s can turn even the most relaxed person into a perfectionist. This was, and sometimes still is, me. I have had to work hard on letting go of perfect numbers and allowing the imbalances to teach me more about myself and diabetes. Curing this habit with diabetes has helped me heal perfectionist tendencies in other areas of my life.
According to the American Diabetes Association, optimal diabetes management is maintaining an HbA1c under 7 and blood glucose reading of 70-130 mg/dL before meals and under 180 mg/dL two hours after meals. These are not unattainable goals, but they are not always the numbers we see during the day. Due to an intense desire to remain “within the lines” diabetes perfectionism can actually cause hypo and hyperglycemia episodes because you react rather than listen.
All of this measuring up and striving to fit into the lines leaves a subtle imprint in the psyche. Isn't there already enough pressure in this world to be perfect without diabetes? The mind holds on to negative thoughts and beliefs further perpetuating the inability to be satisfied. Perfectionism is a product of fear. It is the fear of being inadequate, of making mistakes, of being vulnerable. Many of us are successful at living with diabetes because we put on the face of being capable. I always told my parents, “I’ve got this. Please don’t worry about me.” But that attitude only gets us so far. We have got to have the courage to make mistakes, learn from them and grow.
Please share your experiences with diabetes perfectionism below. I'd love to hear them