Diabetes and Depression

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Diabetes and Depression: From the Experts
By Joe Solowiejczyk

Yup, that's right, I schedule my diabetes depression days! I've had diabetes for 48 years now and I've learned that getting depressed about having it is just part of living with it—successfully! I used to think that in order to consider myself as handling it "okay" I wasn't supposed to complain or let anyone know that I was having a hard time. And the difficulty I'm talking about is not anything specific, just tired or exhausted from always having to be on top of it and doing the "right thing."

Don't get me wrong—I don't walk around all the time feeling angry, sad or sorry for myself because I have diabetes. I absolutely love being alive and am grateful that I have diabetes and not some other condition that would be debilitating, and that would have prevented me from doing all the things I love to do—travel, cycling, camping, cooking, and eating! What I'm saying is that managing diabetes on a daily basis, and managing it well is exhausting:

  • Checking my blood sugar
  • Counting carbs and bolusing,
  • Trying to make the right dose adjustments for corrections AND not overeating during those lows that we get late at night (you know, the ones where you say to yourself as you're walking to the kitchen at 1 a.m. that you're only going to have 1 cup of juice… you're only going to have 1 cup of juice… you're only going to have 1 cup of juice … and when you get to the kitchen, the cereal grabs you by the the neck, throws you down to the floor and shoves 5 bowls into your mouth!) It takes a lot of time, effort and energy.

Meet our Experts

Joe Solowiejczyk

Joe Solowiejczyk

RN, MSW, CDE Manager, Diabetes Counselling and Training,

Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute/LifeScan/Animas

Joe Solowiejczyk is a healthcare professional who has lived with Type 1 diabetes for over 40 years. As such, Joe is able to translate his personal experience into patient care. As a nurse, diabetes educator and family therapist, he specializes in assessing how family dynamics impact the management of diabetes and designs interventions that target more effective coping and optimal metabolic control. He is a full-time faculty member of the Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute and is on the faculty of Children with Diabetes( ChildrenwithDiabetes.com).

Joe works extensively with both patients and professionals on the Family Approach to Diabetes Management. He works with pediatric patients and their families in hospital clinics and private physicians’ offices, and conducts workshops nationally and abroad for parents to help them cope with their child’s diagnosis and daily challenge of living with diabetes. He designs educational and counselling programs for both children and adults with diabetes, as well as seminars for healthcare professionals on integrating family therapy into clinical practice.

Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, Joe was President of InBalance Healthcare. In this role, he provided consulting expertise to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare marketing firms in the development of unique and positive partnerships among healthcare professionals, patients and products. He was also instrumental in the development of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center, a comprehensive, family-focused center for diabetes research, education and patient care, where he served as the Associate Director of Clinical Services. He worked as a consultant to Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland, helping them to expand and develop their clinical diabetes program. As well, he worked with the Oakland Unified School District, where he developed and coordinated the implementation of their in-district diabetes program, the first of its kind in the country.

Joe has appeared in San Francisco/Bay Area newspapers, local and national television and radio, as well as National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.