anageIf you do not have diabetes, you may not understand that it is a life-altering problem. We hear about it often. We hear about foods that are marketed as ‘sugar-free’ and medications that are continually being introduced to fight the illness. We see commercials on television for various products designed to make the life of a diabetic patient easier. But, if you are a diabetic you know, your life is anything but easy.
Being a diabetic means paying attention to your food choices. But, it does not only mean paying attention to your food choices. To put it simply, being a diabetic means having to think about the way your body functions with every choice you make. This is something no other group of people has to incorporate into their lives. Every bite of food eaten, how much or how little, becomes an issue for the diabetic. When, how, and how much you exercise is critical. Instead of your body functioning for you, you must function on your own. As of now, there is no cure in sight. So, this is for the rest of your life or until someone discovers a cure. This is why diabetes can bring on difficult emotions. This is why we must learn to cope.
As soon as we learn we have diabetes, we are faced with fear. That is a natural response to any illness. Usually, when we grow to understand what we are facing, it subsides. As the illness changes over time, the fear can try to crawl back into our minds, but we simply remind ourselves that we have control and the help of medical professionals to guide us. Here are some issues that often induce fear and steps you can take to stop it in its tracks:
- Speak to your doctor. Ask your doctor to refer you to a training center to teach you how to understand the signs of high and low blood sugar, the effects of exercise, over and under-eating, and the various ways to begin to track yourself.
- Check your budget. Be honest with yourself and your doctor about what you can and cannot afford. Diabetes is expensive. Insurance helps. If you are on Medicare, they will assist you. But, it is often not enough. You may need to work with pharmacies and others to get the equipment and supplies you need at a discounted price. This company will provide a Contour Next blood glucose meter at no charge to diabetic patients. (Limitations and restrictions apply. )
- Go to manufacturers to buy syringes. If you are on Medicare, use your Medicare part D for full coverage without cost to you.
- Ask your doctor to prescribe the most cost-effective insulin possible.
- Build a support team to help you get through the fearful times. Diabetes is frustrating. You cannot go anywhere without your meter. You can do everything right and sometimes your numbers just won’t line up. You would love to just look at a menu and order what looks good without thinking of what is in it. Build a team to talk it out with. You probably have friends and family who face the same battles. They understand and can offer encouragement. Just be careful not to turn into a giant ‘complaint club’.
- Overwhelmed. You took the bull by the horns and got busy, but now what? You have to learn balance. Diabetes is part of your life, but it is not your entire life. You have to make time for family, friends, work, hobbies, and rest. Make a time journal. Figure out how much time you really need to keep up with your diabetes and work within those times. Once you have gotten that under control, add things that you had let go of. Find your balance.
- Everyone gets the blues sometimes. But if you cannot get past them, that’s not the blues, that’s depression. Are you struggling to get out of bed and motivate yourself to go to work or school? Are you struggling to eat or are you struggling to stop eating? Do you feel like the world is gray and you can’t see where any light or color will return? You may be suffering from depression. Depression is a medical condition. You need to see your doctor.
- Your doctor may prescribe you an antidepressant. They may refer you to a psychologist so you will have a mental health professional who can help you walk through everything you are dealing with. Depression is not permanent. But, sometimes it needs help passing. Learning how to cope with it effectively can help it pass quickly. There is no shame in having depression and there is no shame in reaching out to your doctor and to people who care about you for help.
Now you can stand tall and be proud. You faced the uncertainty of the past year and you are still in the running. Diabetes did not knock you down. Your emotions could not control you and your finances were molded around your needs. You have learned much and you have taught others. You are living proof that diabetes is tough, but given the right tools and a good attitude and you are much tougher. So, never give up. You’ve got this.
Elena Deeley did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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