Whether you have only recently been diagnosed or have been living with diabetes for many years, understanding and taking care of your diabetes can be overwhelming. It is not uncommon for people living with diabetes to experience periods of frustration, guilt, worry and fatigue. We are only human! Helping our pancreas and our insulin to work as they should is a tough gig.
Often, people without diabetes don’t get it. What is so hard about pricking your finger every now and again? Just don’t eat sugar, that’ll fix it. Diabetes does not live in isolation from other day-to-day stressors. As with life, there are days were everything goes to plan and everything feels effortless – diabetes is not a big deal, I can do this. Then there are days were we feel we shouldn’t have got out of bed – diabetes is hard, I don’t know if I can do this. On these days it is easy to get swept up by things like, the worry of long-term complications or that my last BGL was not within target range. It is not hard to see how these feelings might then start to effect other aspects of your day-to-day life including work, relationships, school and managing kids. Not surprisingly, this is a time where it is not uncommon for people to ‘give up’ on their diabetes in order cope with other aspects of their life.
Looking after your emotional well-being will go a long way to prevent and manage diabetes-related distress. So how do we look after our emotional well-being? First and foremost, as the title of our blog suggests, it is not just about the numbers. Blood glucose monitoring is a great guide to help us make management decisions about our diabetes, but it is just that, a guide. Trying not to let the numbers ‘rule’ you, will go a long way in improving your emotional well-being. Think of your readings as just one piece of the puzzle, that one number is not a reflection of who you are.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your current diabetes goals, or feel as though you are not achieving them – that is OK. You might find that re-visiting your goals may help find some perspective. You do not have to achieve everything NOW. It is ok to make your goals slightly smaller and easier to achieve. Being able to achieve your goals, even if you perceive them to be small, will give you more confidence and make you feel better about your progress. It is important to make your goals SMART – Specific, Measurable, Action based, Realistic and Time specific. This way it is much easier to get started and to know when we have actually achieved our goal. Most importantly, don’t forget to reward yourself. You are dealing with a complex condition, not to mention dealing with the rest of your life – achievements are worth celebrating!
You are not alone. Try connecting with people or friends who might be experiencing similar struggles. There are a number of support groups around – click here (external link) to find a support group in your area or for online options:
Sometimes you might find that talking with a health professional such as a psychologist, diabetes educator or your treating doctor can help you find way to cope with the demands of diabetes. You can talk to your GP about how to access these services – often there are very affordable or free options.
- Australian Psychological Society (external link)
- DIAL 1300 136 588 to talk to a diabetes educator today
Marian is a Diabetes Educator and an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Diabetes WA.