Having diabetes can produce a whole series of feelings and emotions. Examining these “emotional aspects” will help us take care of ourselves both psychologically and physically. In this column, Daryn Stier addresses some of the issues that often arise among people with diabetes and their family and friends.
How can I handle my insulin reactions without anybody’s help?
Daryn: Being self-sufficient is the American ideal; John Wayne never seemed to want or need someone else’s help in any of his movies. However, when you hear yourself saying, “I have to do it all on my own,” a good question to ask yourself is: “Why?” Often, people with diabetes feel they are a burden when they ask for help. Moreover, they do not want to feel different from the rest of the world. But in reality, (as opposed to in the movies), we all need help and we all ask for help under certain circumstances. The goal is to figure out how you can ask for help in dealing with your insulin reactions and still feel independent and capable. One way of doing this is to explain to those people around you what an insulin reaction is, and what are your own signs and symptoms. Work out a game plan with them as to how you specifically want their help. For example, agree to have them support you in eating on time, and to have them get you juice when you ask for it. Performing this kind of “dress rehearsal” will allow you to be in charge of the situation, and give your family and friends the feeling they are being helpful.
I feel like I am to blame for having diabetes. Why is this and does anyone else feel this way?
Daryn: I cannot begin to tell you the number of people who blame themselves for having diabetes. You are definitely not alone. It is human nature to search for the reasons behind why things happen. It is also a tendency in human nature to blame one’s self when no answers are found to a difficult situation. Perhaps this has become more complicated because you heard some skewed information like, “Eating too many cookies gives you diabetes.” Or perhaps a parent/doctor/teacher said something like, “If you had done what I told you, you wouldn’t have gotten diabetes.” What you are taught about an illness is hard to unlearn. However, feeling like you are to blame because you have diabetes can only complicate your ability to take care of yourself. And you are definitely not to blame! Examining these feelings of blame in a counseling setting can provide you with valuable information and offer you ways to rework some misconceived beliefs.
I just started dating a new person. When am I suppose to “blurt out” that I am diabetic?
Daryn: One concern that many people with diabetes have is: How are people going to respond when I tell them I have diabetes? Unfortunately, we cannot control how people will ultimately respond. However, one of the things we can control is how we give out our information, and also to a degree, how comfortable we are in sharing it. “Blurting out” important information is usually a mistake. Take the time to plan ahead on how you want to share this information. In doing so, it will illustrate that you are comfortable with your disease and that he/she can be too! The timing of when you tell a new date about your diabetes really depends on what feels right. Is keeping the information back causing you to stress and interfering in getting to know this other person? If we all think that sharing this information is like giving a gift, a gift of ourselves, then sharing our diabetes will be a lot easier.