As with any medical diagnosis, receiving a diagnosis of diabetes can trigger a wide-ranging torrent of emotions: nearly-numb denial, frustration, anger and resentment, fear and confusion, depression and grief.
Diabetes requires a great deal of day-to-day commitment. Diabetes demands lifestyle modifications and steady, consistent discipline. And for people with the condition, so much of the required care and treatment falls into their own hands. Managing diabetes takes up time in your day, but it shouldn't take up that much space in your mind. So how does one stay positive in the face of such an ongoing challenge to one's physical and mental well-being?
- Accept diabetes as a part of your life. Denial is common. It's normal – at first. But ignoring diabetes will only make it worse. While it may sound impossible, make it a part of your life that you have to accept unconditionally. When you accept that you have to live with diabetes, you can get on with the business of living well with it.
- Know diabetes well. Part of learning to accept your diagnosis is learning about the disease itself. Ask your health care providers why you developed diabetes so you can understand the factors that brought it on. Get to know the potential complications and the actual risks of developing them. By arming yourself with knowledge, you can disarm the feelings of panic and confusion you might feel.
- Make a realistic plan. You will need to have a solid plan for managing your condition – but you will also have to be flexible enough to know when some part of the plan is not working well. Work with a diabetes educator to create a realistic plan that matches your lifestyle, your personality, and your body's specific needs.
- Create a contingency plan. Just like you need an everyday plan for managing diabetes, you need a plan in place in case something goes awry. Do you know what to do if your blood sugar dips too low or soars too high? What will you do if a medication causes unpleasant side effects? Where will you turn if you feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of it all? Think ahead to anticipate potential situations and work with your health care team to set up a backup plan.
- Have a support network in place. Reach out to friends and family when you need support. Forge friendships with other people living with diabetes. Clue in your boss and co-workers on your condition so they can lend a hand or simply understand when you need a moment or a day off.
- Master the numbers game. The lives of some people with diabetes can become a numbers game: blood glucose readings, A1C, carb counting, weigh-ins, blood pressure, and cholesterol checks. Keep in mind that the numbers will shift and change over time, and that you will have good and bad days (or weeks, or months!). Look at the numbers as measures of health factors – not as measures of your self-esteem.
- Know the signs of depression. About 15% of people with diabetes experience depressive symptoms. Depression can lead to poor self-management and ultimately a higher risk of complications. Watch for signs of depression, including sadness, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, nervousness, and loss of energy and concentration.
- Catch yourself being good. It's easy to get into a negative spiral and only notice the mistakes you make. Guilt over a skipped workout, remorse for an overindulgence, letting your numbers slip into the danger zone – seeing only the negatives can sabotage your better efforts. Turn guilt on its head and catch yourself being good! Reward yourself for small victories: establishing a good habit, keeping your blood sugar in range, getting out to exercise, or making a healthier food choice. Give yourself a gold star – and maybe buy yourself new clothes or electronics when you get enough stars.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/Diabetes-Self-Management