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Anger and diabetes

Do you struggle with feeling angry about your diagnosis? Diabetes counsellor Gabi Richter gives some advice on how to deal with anger and diabetes… Read on!

Anger is a natural emotion that affects everyone on a daily basis, but as soon as we express our anger, people react. They can be quick to suggest that the feeling is misplaced, yet few people try to look behind the expression of anger to find the cause. Anger is healthy: it is passion and resilience, it shows that we are alive and engaging in our surroundings. Anger is sometimes an ethical response to a situation. It can fuel creativity but it can also be misunderstood. It is designed to protect us from danger, but it can have a dark side which shows in violence and physical damage.

The different types of anger

Anger signifies different things for different people at different times and for different reasons. Research suggests there are six different types of anger, which fall into three categories:

  1. Passive Aggressive
  2. Open Aggressive
  3. Assertive Aggressive

When it comes to diabetes, there are three types that stand out:

  1. Chronic Anger
  2. Overwhelmed Anger
  3. Self Abusive Anger.

What’s behind your anger?

Anger is often a disguise or defence against more elusive and painful feelings or situations that we are dealing with. It is fuelled by emotions such as fear, anxiety, sadness and stress. We all experience anger: it stems from a need for control. The interesting thing about anger is that it tends to surface when you feel safe enough to know you will
survive the outcome. But it can be exhausting and alienating.

The most important thing to realise if you’re feeling angry is that you need to try and find the cause for the anger. You can then find a workable solution. Bear in mind, though, that anger doesn’t have to be logical or valid. When living with a chronic illness such as diabetes, you may experience anger more often. We can be angry with our doctors because they don’t have a cure or the answers, we may even find ourselves angry that they don’t have it and yet they are hard on us when our management of the condition isn’t perfect.

Chronic anger and diabetes

Chronic anger will develop slowly over time and can be used as psychological armour to protect ourselves from suffering: almost like a shield to hide behind. If it’s not worked through, it can have very negative effects on the body and the mind and this can possibly lead to alcohol and drug abuse as a way to avoid dealing with the anger. This in turn can lead to self-abusive anger. This can be physical or emotional damage and will most likely occur over time during periods of overwhelm.

Loss, envy and frustration go hand in hand with anger. When the body experiences anger, it initiates the stress hormone and increases the blood pressure and heart rate. The stress hormone triggers the release of cortisol in the body, and this cortisol hormone increases blood sugar levels over time. The result? More anger. Overwhelmed anger.

Accepting anger

The main thing to remember about diabetes and anger is: don’t let anyone criticise your anger. Ask yourself what you need when you’re angry. To be left alone, someone to see things from your point of view, support? Accept the feeling and then try to find a solution, whether it’s removing yourself from the situation or even simply breathing and counting to ten. Whatever works to get you back to a calm space is the key.

We would not be human if we did not experience anger: the key is to try and control it and move through it. Do you have any anger and diabetes tips to share?

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

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One Comment

  1. […] negative impact on both mental and physical health, including reduced glycaemia control. Trying to find the cause of the anger you may be feeling is crucial as only then can you find a workable […]

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.