Dealing with Your Feelings

The emotions you experience as you deal with diabetes are generally negative ones. But these negative feelings may actually be useful. For example, denial can be part of nature’s way of letting the news of diabetes sink in gradually. Even anger can be an ally in dealing with diabetes if you are able to channel your anger into energy that helps keep you motivated.

The key to dealing with your emotions is to understand your feelings and not try to suppress or deny them. Learning to understand how you are feeling and how your feelings influence your actions is the first step in dealing with your emotions.

If your first reaction to the news that you have diabetes was to try not to think about it, to wish it would go away, to tell yourself you would deal with it later, or to convince yourself that the diabetes care providers don’t know what they are talking about, then you may be experiencing denial. Denial is not necessarily a bad thing. It can help you adjust to living with diabetes. By putting your emotions on hold, you can better deal with the shock of absorbing all the new information.

By pretending you don’t have diabetes or that diabetes is not that big of a deal, you can avoid feeling overly stressed out, angry, or depressed as you learn about diabetes and begin to care for yourself. Eventually, however, denial is no longer helpful or protective. In fact, it can be just the opposite. People who continue to deny the seriousness of diabetes are less likely to take positive steps to manage their blood glucose levels and ultimately to prevent the complications of diabetes.

If you feel overwhelmed, talk to your spouse or close friends or your diabetes care provider or educator. It may help to take one step at a time. Don’t try to change everything all at once. Pick one area that is meaningful for you and start there. Remember that every step in the right direction is a big step. You may want to consider joining a support group, joining a chat room or newsgroup on the Internet, or seeking counseling. It can be reassuring to know that you have many of the same concerns as others, and they may be able to offer you ideas about ways to cope with diabetes.

Food for Thought
If you’re having trouble knowing where to start making changes to manage your diabetes, try out this series of questions.

They will help you identify what’s important to you and help you to make a positive step.

  •   What part of living with diabetes is the most difficult or unsatisfactory for you?
  •   How do you feel about this situation?
  •   How would this situation have to change for you to feel better about it?
  •   Are you willing to act to improve this situation for yourself?
  •   What steps could you take to bring yourself closer to where you want to be?
  •   Can you pick out one thing that you can do to improve things for yourself?
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