Being diagnosed with diabetes is a big deal. It can cause fear. It can cause stress. It can cause depression. It can be overwhelming. Yet with all these feelings, we are still expected to somehow learn tons of new information and make big life changes – fast. So, how do we make it through all of this? How do we get to a place where we are managing our diabetes on our own? Well, unfortunately there is no magic recipe or solution. But, there is something to remember. You are not alone. You do not have to go through this alone. Support systems are out there and they are very important to your path to wellness.
Family is not your only option
If you have family and friends to support you, that is wonderful. Teach them about all you are learning, from your symptoms to how you need to be eating and exercising. Depend on them to lean on and help you.
If you do not have family or friends for support, there are other options and places you can go. Support groups are great places to start. Diabetes is not rare. There are many people just like you, looking for support just like you. It may seem strange and scary to share this with strangers, but I assure you they won’t be strangers for long. Check at your local community center, doctors office or health center.
Importance of peers
Seeing your doctor is important and necessary. You need to stay very connected to your doctor and follow all his or her instructions. But talking with your peers is different. Talking with someone like you, that is going through what you are going through, is different. In peer support groups, you can relate to one another’s struggles, successes and share experiences. You can ask questions, share doubts and talk about feelings to a group of people that understands you. A support group is just that, there to support you. They do not judge and they do not blame. Support groups listen and offer help.
Ups and downs
With diabetes, there will be ups and downs. I can tell you that right now. It’s ok. Your support system can help you through those ups and downs. Emotions can run high. Having people around you to guide and encourage you through tough times is important to your long-term success. Diabetes management is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s easier to get through the tough times when you have people by your side sharing your pain and cheering you on.
Learning new information
Having diabetes often means you need to learn a lot and think about many things differently. You have to think about what you eat differently. How you are exercising. How you are taking your medicine. How you are monitoring your blood sugar levels. It is a lot. By talking through these things with similar people, you can learn what’s worked for them and what hasn’t. What helps and what doesn’t. “Tricks of the trade” that have made something easier. You can bounce off ideas for improvement, share recipes and workout regimes and even plans to do better next time. It is not only a space to support each other, but to learn and help one another grow and self-manage.
Authored by: Alba Peterson, Diabetes Education Specialist
Contact information: 414-897-5572