Everyone has challenges. UNLIKE EVERYONE–our challenge just happens to be a diabetes diagnosis. None of us wanted it, none of asked for it, but here we are.
Our daily lives are affected–some pretty severely. We have to test our blood sugar, watch our diet, take medication, take insulin injections, and keep up with insulin pumps and supplies–whatever your regimen is. It takes time. It takes energy. It takes effort and organization and coordination. It’s expensive. I could go on and on.
A chronic illness diagnosis can be devastating and shocking. Some people jump right in and get going with their treatment solution, while others remain in denial. Some even fall into depression because of the extra effort required to remain healthy or because they now think of themselves as “damaged” and no longer healthy or because they know that their life will never be the same. They’re right, it won’t, but that doesn’t mean your diagnosis has to result in any less of a life.
Chronic illness can have many outcomes, but ours does not have to result in death or disability. It’s manageable.
The resulting outcome for each of us will depend on a number of factors:
- How old were you when you were diagnosed?
- What type of diabetes do you have?
- What were your lifestyle habits before your diagnosis?
- How far along had your symptoms and complications progressed before you were diagnosed?
- What effort and care are you able to give yourself going forward?
- Are you a positive, can-do person that doesn’t let much of anything get you down or are you easily defeated? (Just for the record–YOU are NOT easily defeated! I have faith that you can manage your illness and live a great life.)
We have to be proactive with our care. We have to be diligent. I’ve definitely had my moments where I just wanted to chuck it all and let the disease run its course to whatever end, whenever it came. Fortunately, I was smart enough to take control of my diabetes and get healthy. I’m not perfect and not 100% there yet, but progress is progress and I’m doing great.
Psychologically adjusting to having a chronic health condition can be tougher than the physical or behavior adjustments. Your perspective changes; it’s hard not to think of yourself as a “sick” person. In addition, our condition is not something that is readily seen by others; it’s not like a physical disability where it can be obvious when someone is afflicted. Our tougher days when we need a little extra help are not obvious to others. We have to speak up if we need help or at least school those around us to look for the signs of issues such as low blood sugar. No one may know we’re struggling or need help if we don’t tell them.
Fear can be a big factor when you are diagnosed. Why me? What’s going to happen to me? How is this going to change my life? How is this going to change the lives of my loved ones? Can I be successfully treated? Can I manage the regimen I need to in order to become healthy? Is it even possible for me to be healthy ever again? A positive attitude, which comes more naturally to some of us than others, can go a long way toward making the journey easier. We can concentrate on the positive things and even can practice “learned optimism,” which studies have shown can influence your behavior as well as your immune system. Get the support of your loved ones and a good medical team, and along with your positive attitude, you’ll have it made.
Honestly, we’re pretty fortunate. Not only do we live in a time where the therapies and treatments for diabetes are advancing faster than ever, but diabetes is also generally portable, manageable, and does not have to completely limit our activities. It’s all doable. Your daily coping skills can include humor, a positive attitude, self-love and care, spirituality, and spending time with loved ones. Become educated about your condition and integrate whatever healthy activities you can into your schedule. Eat right, exercise, and take your medication properly. You can do it–I KNOW you can. If I can do it, so can you.
Remember: Be smart. Be healthy. Live YOUR life!
photo credit: Manny Hernandez