FUDiabetes

Tackling My Increased Social Anxiety Since Becoming T1D

As regulars here might remember, I was diagnosed with T1D at 21 years old. So I have a pretty stout sample size of my life behaviors both Before and During T1D.

Since diagnosis, I have been in a constantly high workload phase of life with career development, marriage, multiple long distance moves, two pregnancies, working motherhood, and supporting family members in a variety of ways with their own health issues. All of these things were important and necessary. But they also made having a social life pretty much impossible.

But then I became a SAHM a year ago. And the dust is happily settling. Life is more balanced and much less frenetically crazy. And it gives me fewer excuses to not expand my social circle and my kids’ social circles. And it makes me realize how much more socially anxious I am now with T1D than I ever was before T1D.

I can make conversation with anybody. I don’t mind whether it is a small or a large gathering. I don’t have hang ups about those sorts of things. And I don’t mind testing in front of people or excusing myself to go take a shot.

The things that make me anxious are:

  • Gracefully explaining just enough to new people so that different diabetes-related things that I have to do make sense and don’t come across as rude. (Like eating dinner earlier than they might want to, or me delaying eating bc I’m high, or not eating a certain dish they made, or not being able to play an impromptu cook-out sport bc I have more IOB than I would have had I known we were going to be playing a game after eating)
  • When new people are so Go with the Flow that they don’t understand the need for me to make and generally stick to actual plans. We’ve had dinner guests (another married couple) show up an hour late. Maybe that is what some people do, but it made entertaining that night pretty inconvenient and awkward.
  • Going low in front of new people. I hate this. So much. I find it really embarrassing.
  • When I’m hanging out with new people, I tend to lose my inner awareness of time. That can make me lose awareness of what my insulin/bg are doing in an already dynamic situation.
  • Usually hanging out with new people gets my blood sugar stuck pretty high all on its own. I don’t feel nervous. But I think I’m so much more engaged than I would be around familiar faces that it gets my body on high alert. So then there’s the high to deal with. And then usually food to deal with bc everyone socializes around food.
  • Socializing with kids. This all on its own is a whole thing. Trying to get two families interacting in some kind of enjoyable sync is a mysterious thing. If the adults are compatible: awesome. If the kids are also compatible: awesome. But those two things together are super rare to come by. And then add tracking my blood sugar, and gracefully parenting my kids and trying to ignore whatever feral child behaviors are coming out of the other family (or my own), and helping my kids navigate that with the other kids, and fixing everyone plates, keeping injuries under control…it gets to be a lot. And I can’t tell that anyone really enjoys these get togethers…but it gets everyone out of their own house from time to time where they’d be stuck with their feral children on their own so I guess it’s better with witnesses to the craziness? Lol.

So far I’ve tried to go lower carb during socializing bc if I have less IOB, then I have a lot less crazy spin-off potential either direction. I try to get together with people for activities rather than eating bc I really just find that to be easier and more fun. But otherwise, I don’t really know what to do with it. Practice, practice, practice? I just worry about elegantly managing dynamic situations with new faces around. I’m not that outwardly graceful at handling what feels like a whirlwind in my head. And I’d have to guess that I’m communicating that to people in unspoken ways.

Thoughts or tips? Thanks.

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I can understand every concern you mentioned. I have learned adaptations to things you have mentioned. Like if I am high when dinner is served, I take a bunch of insulin and just pick at my food slowly. Eat slower than normal. Just eat the green beans and the salad. Wait for it all to get fixed and then hopefully I get to eat the rest of it a little bit later.

Or if it is a self-serve dinner party with little rinky-dink plates, I take an extended bolus, and eat my way through the insulin. If the food runs out, I cover the rest of the insulin with a Coke. Or a mixed drink if there is a bar.

As long as I know there is some sugar source, I generally take enough insulin to cover anything, and I rely on dessert or some way of covering whatever insulin is left.

I don’t get too stressed-out by people. I guess I have an advantage in not being afraid of going low. If I go low in front of someone, and it bothers them, screw 'em. I am not too concerned with the stigma of being hypo. Not like I’m a wife-beater or something. My feeling is - It’s low BG! Get over it, stranger I just met! Been dealing with it my whole life, so I am totally used to it. Don’t care what others thing about my D. I did when I was a kid, but that was long ago. Really don’t care anymore.

One time I was at dinner and - this was pre-pump - I was doing a syringe injection before dinner. I was at the table. The guy sitting next to me asked me if I wanted to go to the restroom and “do that” (injection). I replied with a simple, “Nope!” My family still remembers that and laughs about it!

Would be happy to go through scenarios with you! Like if you have IOB and a sport activity breaks out, just grabbing some carbs to cover it and playing the sport. Or grabbing whatever carb is portable and putting some in your pocket before you play.

A lot of it depends on the activity. Like if it is volleyball, you can have a Coke sitting nearby and sip it during breaks in the serve or whatever.

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I’ve had diabetes since I was a kid, so I don’t really know what socializing without diabetes is like. I guess it would be more spontaneous, in a way. But when I compare having a pump and CGM to the old regimen I was on (two shots of R and NPH a day), I feel pretty spontaneous and discreet. I can eat dinner an hour late or go for an unexpected walk without passing out. I always have glucose and snacks with me, so I just whip those out as needed when those exercise situations come up. If I start going low when others are around, I often just eat glucose tablets and don’t mention it. People rarely ask what I’m doing, and if they do, I just say I’m low. Occasionally, I have had to ask to stop an activity until my blood sugar comes up, but that’s been really rare since getting a CGM.

I do get exhausted with food and socializing. I can never participate in food events due to food allergies. And it’s generally just stressful. Especially when people insist that they make something I can eat, which just sends my anxiety totally through the roof. I wish food, in general, had way less of an emphasis at social events. I’m sort of hoping that’s a side-effect of the pandemic, maybe… I’ll admit, I have really enjoyed not having to worry about being invited to a dinner or party or potluck or restaurant over the past three months. :confused: I’m not so sure that’s exactly a good thing, but it’s how I feel.

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I appreciate your post. I share many of the same concerns you do about the social anxiety around food. My entire family knows that I am D, but they cannot, or will not, retain information that I provide them with again and again. (Thai food is just too complicated for me to bear, so why do they continually chose Thai restaurants for get-togethers?)

I do have a healthy appetite and can generally ball-park many unexpected foods, but I simply dread re-explainig myself again and again, particularly what I do enjoy eating and what I do not. And these are VERY close relatives that I am in constant contact with. (when will they ever learn???)

Even my father, after all of my years of being a T1D, does not grab the concept that food turns into sugar. He is continually offering me “deserts” in the form of Candy, etc (which doesn’t even appeal to me, as candy always reminds me of being low and having to correct my BG)

MY sister-in-law (of 27+ yrs) is constantly buying me “sugar-free” products to eat. Now that’s very sweet of her, but have you ever eaten a sugar-free food? It is disgusting. Besides, I still need to bolus for the carbs, despite it being sugar-free. (this she does not get) I don’t mean to be insulting towards her, but com’mom, please,after 27 years of explanations, she is still buying me this crappy sh+t.

I also have a cousin who is obsessed with taking long walks, then eating, and then watching a movie together. I have tried to explain to her that in order for me to plan for an extended walk, I need to know a relatively close ball-park time so that I can set my pump for a lowered TB. Then I need to know exactly how long a walk she wants to take, so that I can turn off my TB and prepare for dining and watching a movie (God, I hate the movies she enjoys).

I think I’ve said enough here. Just to repeat: thank you for your post. I think that many more of us (maybe secretly) will emerge fro their silence and share your concerns and feelings. I look forward to hearing what others have to say! :pray: :thinking: :crazy_face: :yum:

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I completely understand.

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I think with time all this will become second nature for you; your diabetes won’t be the primary driver of all action and decision-making. You’ll learn to be comfortable with less rigidity, more spontaneity, a few mistakes. If you’re high and it’s time to eat, rather than unsettle other people by not eating, take more bolus or be more selective about what or how much you eat with them. If there’s an impromptu sport thing, crack open a juice box and join in and have fun. What’s to be gained by not participating just to head off highs or lows later? Live!

That’s fine, as long as you keep in mind that for human beings, getting together over food is a major bonding thing. Just getting together and yapping, not so much. In the absence of food allergies, if you decline to join in the food part, or turn down an offered food, you’re potentially sending the message that you don’t want to belong to the group, you don’t want to share in Og’s mastodon hunt. People aren’t consciously having these thoughts, but it’s been suggested that they’re there, deep down. Which comes back to what you said about what you’re communicating in unspoken ways.

If I’m eating other people’s food or restaurant food, I’m going to enjoy the moment and not worry constantly about what my BG is going to be in one or six hours – I can fix a problem pretty quickly. A few people who’ve known me for 20 or 30 years still say things like “I don’t know if you can eat this,” and it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve said “I can eat anything” or how many times they’ve seen me eat anything, it never sinks in. I ignore it now. It’s not worth the effort. Educating everyone around me isn’t necessary. Rice always spikes me, but if I’m served rice I’m not going to offend my host by pushing it to the side and/or explaining why I prefer not to eat rice. I’ll eat it, I’ll spike, I’ll fix the spike. No biggie.

Dinners I host usually present a timing problem. I’ve prebolused and want to start eating after 30 minutes, but no, while I start sweating and looking stoned, people want to discuss politics or tell funny stories or have another round of cocktails, and I’m not going to ruin that dynamic by calling everyone to the table just because I need to eat, so I just slip away and gobble some glucose tabs. Nobody except me has to think about diabetes.

In short, with time and experience and comfort, that whirlwind in your head will just become a gentle background breeze. Promise.

I’ve had diabetes for 50 years and I didn’t even know there was a stigma! What else have I missed?

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