Being told that you have diabetes is something many people fear of hearing. Diagnosis will cause you to move through a gamut of emotions which is a very normal thing to occur. These psychological stages can affect your emotional health and wellbeing so it is important to recognise what you can do in these stages remembering you are not alone. The key goal is to understand and be accepting of your diabetes, talk about it, find a way to best manage it, and ensure you do everything possible to adjust to your new lifestyle.
“Do I really have diabetes? I am doing fine.”
Being diagnosed with diabetes is an overwhelming process. At first you may feel shocked as to how this has become a reality – “Has the doctor made a mistake? This can’t possibly be true. It’s no big deal.”
Signs that you are denying your diabetes, or not managing your diabetes can include: burnout, frustration, feeling overwhelmed, disengaging from your health care team, or not practicing recommended diabetes care on a regular basis.
Sometimes denial serves a purpose. It is a way of coping with news. It allows you to accept your diagnosis little by little, when you are ready.
If you do recognise any symptoms of denial:
- Make a plan — Write down your diabetes care plan and your health care goals. Understand why each item in your plan is important. Accept that it will take time to reach your goals.
- Ask for help — If you find you are denying some parts of your diabetes care, speak to your diabetes educator. If you have trouble with your food plan, speak to a registered dietitian. Together you can come up with solutions.
- Tell friends and family — Tell your friends and family how they can help. Teach them about your health care and diabetes management plan and ask them to encourage and support you.
It’s very important that you share your fears and concerns with your healthcare team including your doctor, Endocrinologist, dietician, and Diabetes Educator
One of the main things to do is speak openly with members of your diabetes healthcare team. This group together with your friends, family, and of course yourself, will be the ones helping you achieve short and long term diabetes goals. Prepare a diabetes activity plan including goals that you are able to achieve. Ensure you inform people of your management plan and goals as they will be the ones to offer the necessary support. If you ever have any issues with managing your plan, speak to your team of professionals to assist in providing solutions.
“Great I have diabetes there is no way I can deal with this.”
It is important to be thinking positive as feeling anxious after and during diagnosis will block your diabetes self-care goals and objectives. Worries, stress, or other somatic symptoms can impact your willpower and take its toll on your blood glucose levels elevating it out of control. You may be seeking answers to many questions on how it will affect your body or mind in the coming period – this is a normal part of the process.
The key to alleviating emotions in this stage and prevent it from controlling your diabetes is through knowledge and understanding. The more you educate yourself about managing your diabetes, the more successful you will be at handling your management plan. There are many individuals and support groups you can make contact with or turn to online resources for tips and encouragement. Learn the facts about diabetes management and care, speak to people about your condition, stick to your plan, and seek advice – it will benefit you.
“This has to be my fault and all those unhealthy habits!”
A frequent misrepresentation is blaming yourself and others about diabetes diagnosis. You may feel ashamed or embarrassed that you have the condition assuming it was because of sheer gluttony or unhealthy habits. Although this is a clear rationale, many other causal factors exist and there is no proven way as yet to prevent it.
A simple way to overcome guilt is by turning it into regret. By acknowledging you did something in the past will assist in making improved, smarter and healthier choices when the situation arises again. Empower yourself each day to correct your past mistakes and look at it as an experience you can learn from.
“Why me? This is just unfair.”
Anger is one of the most natural emotions which can impact blood glucose levels. If managed in a positive light, anger can be your motivational drive to help you recognise, respond to, and take control of your health and lifestyle. Many individuals feel this way when coming to terms with modifications that must take effect.
Find out what is making you feel angry and record this. It is a good idea to review this with your doctor or healthcare professional to see what is the best way to cope. You may formulate strategies to avoid the same situations, or adjust your behaviour when the same difficulties or frustrations arise.
“This is too hard – there is so much to do.”
It is often a difficult task staying on track of your diabetes management plan. Changing your lifestyle, diet, medication, and exercise is a big self-management step. The reality is that you have to make the change! This signifies an opportunity to get organised and to gradually taking note of what is required to manage your diabetes. Always stay positive and remember to use all resources available to you.
Success is in the organisation of your lifestyle and activity plans. Include times to check your blood glucose levels, medication types, physical activity schedules, and nutritious meal plans. Once you complete your management plan consult your professional team for constructive feedback and then make the necessary adjustments.
Always remember to TEST, RECORD and CONTROL