I bet you still remember that moment your whole world changed by hearing those 3 words… “You have diabetes”. The moment coupled with feelings of shock, rage, anger, sadness, or fright, and the brain has so many questions …
What did I do?
What does this mean?
Do I have to take needles?
Will it go away?
It’s there in the mix of emotions and uncertainty… your diabetes journey began.
Everyone receives and processes the diagnosis differently as there is no wrong or right way to do it. If the above wasn’t you, maybe you had a sense of relief to know why you felt so unwell? But either way, there has been a loss of your former healthy self, and with loss comes grief.
Grief is normal. It’s an emotional process we go through to make sense of the world before us. We all do it differently, and may cycle back and forth between different stages of grief. However each stage can influence our behaviour and our ability to manage diabetes. Sometimes we don’t even realise that grief is still influencing our life as it can go on for many years. So…
The 5 stages of grief and the affect they can have on you and diabetes management include:
Hinders treatment adherence and promotes low motivation.
Can increase your risk of developing stress, depression and anxiety.
Increases behaviours that may not be ideal to your treatment i.e. if I eat this cake I won’t test my blood glucose so no one knows and it looks like I’m doing the right thing (Although your HbA1c will ‘know’ if it’s a regular occurrence).
Promotes low motivation, social isolation and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
Allows for positive behaviour change in order to adhere to treatment and for diabetes to fit (as best as it can) within your life.
So the only stage of grief that is desirable – is acceptance. However, we experience the undesirable (denial, anger, bargaining or depression stage) in order to ‘get to’ acceptance.
To ’accept diabetes’ does not mean waving the white flag and surrendering to it – it’s accepting that it’s coming along for the ride of your life. It’s when you say “I’ve got this, I may not be happy it has happened – but I’m acknowledging and behaving in a way that diabetes is now a part of my life”.
…So, where are you?
Even with the diagnosis of diabetes – you are still you. Diabetes should not change who you are and how the world sees you. Remember, you are much more than diabetes. So continue to be kind to yourself – love yourself and take care of your needs.
Knowledge is power. A lack of understanding reduces your ability to ‘control’ diabetes – so it fits (as best as it can) into you life. And by ‘control’ I’m not saying diabetes management is ever perfect and effortless – but having knowledge allows you to be better in charge. Knowledge reduces anxiety, fears and improves diabetes management – so learn a little, learn a lot and learn more!
Remember humans are social beings – this is how we’ve survived. We ALL need support– whether that’s for professional advice or from family and friends. So don’t shy away from the world because of diabetes – some of the best people I know have diabetes. Get amongst it, have fun with others, and if you need help of any kind (professional or not)– just ask!!
Remember, living with diabetes is never ‘easy’, it takes time – but it’s important to love yourself, take charge and be connected whilst you’re living it.
If you have just been diagnosed with diabetes, read about how beneficial receiving support is, in our article Support in Diabetes Management: How beneficial is it?