Coping with Diabetes

Many people with diabetes feel blamed or criticized for their efforts at diabetes care. When someone you care about has diabetes, simply listening to how he or she feels about living with diabetes can be the most loving and helpful act.

When you found out you had diabetes, you were probably given a lot of new information about how to manage the disease.

You may have made changes in your lifestyle, eating habits, and daily activities. You may have started taking oral medications or insulin and checking your blood glucose on a regular basis.

Jeanne was sailing along, enjoying life. She had just turned 30, started a new job, and bought a horse, all in the last 2 months. She lived for the thrill of cantering her horse across the hills and through the woods almost every day. But then one day after a long ride, she felt dizzy and collapsed in the barn. She was rushed to the hospital, and that’s when she found out she had diabetes. She always thought diabetes affected older, sedentary people, but she was young and active.

It just wasn’t fair. She felt angry and was determined to show everyone that she could live just fine without worrying about diabetes.

Hilda, a 60-year-old widow, had just retired from nursing. A few months later, her youngest daughter got married. She thought she would enjoy the peace and quiet, but instead she just didn’t feel quite right. During her yearly medical exam, she found out she had diabetes.

As a former nurse, she knew all about diabetes, but never thought it would happen to her. Even though she knew how to manage, she couldn’t help feeling alone, helpless, and down in the dumps. She just couldn’t motivate herself to do what she knew she needed to do.

Having all this thrown at you at once can be overwhelming. In the midst of trying to sort out all the new information, you probably also experienced many different feelings.

Maybe you tried to shrug diabetes off. Maybe you felt imperfect or that your body had failed you.  Or perhaps you felt angry and wanted to find something or someone to blame. Maybe you felt sad, blue, or out of sorts. Diabetes can cause feelings of depression and isolation, anger, frustration, fear, and guilt. You may have experienced all of these different emotions initially and at different times as you live with diabetes. Even as you are trying to absorb the diagnosis and a lot of new information,  it is equally important to pay attention to your feelings.

Martha M. Funnell, MS, RN, CDE
Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Robert M. Anderson, EdD
Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Shereen Arent, JD
National Director of Legal Advocacy
American Diabetes Association

American Diabetes Association Complete Guide to Diabetes

Provided by ArmMed Media