Daily life with diabetes can be emotionally exhausting to say the least. Some days, it can feel like we’ve done everything in our power to keep it under control and it still manages to act in unexpected ways. If this output of emotional energy goes unrecognized, life can quickly become overwhelming. Fatigue can start to seep into all aspects of our life and showing up each day will only get more difficult.
We all deserve to feel respected, cared for, and valued, but unfortunately for someone living with a chronic illness, it has to be fought and advocated for. There’s no perfect way to emotionally integrate living with a chronic illness into one’s life. Every journey is different and valid. There are, however, some actionable steps one can take to better support their emotional health.
Here are some tips on how to support yourself emotionally while living with diabetes…
Give Yourself Time
The initial diagnosis of diabetes, whether it’s type 1 or type 2, can be daunting. Managing this chronic illness is now going to be a large commitment that will require a lot of time and space in your daily life. Taking the time to learn about the disease, better understand your body, and how to best take care of physical health is important. This will all have lasting, positive effects.
When we don’t allocate time for ourselves, it can have a negative effect on our emotional health. This is even more true with a chronic illness like diabetes! Our glucose levels will be all over the place and our health will begin to suffer as we struggle to maintain energy levels and regulate our own emotional health. This is why it’s important to slow down and give yourself time.
So what does “giving yourself time” really mean? Well remember, you are the one who has to live with this condition so while it’s nice to have support, at the end of the day, how well you live with it is up to you. To ensure good health, you’ve got to put yourself first. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and search for ways to support your physical health. Better blood sugar management is key.
That being said, managing diabetes shouldn’t completely take over your life. Try to leave time to live and give yourself breaks. Don’t be too strict! To help with this, try keeping a journal, check in with yourself daily, and practice self-compassion and self awareness.
Show Yourself Compassion
Being diagnosed with a condition like diabetes can present some negative feelings and emotions. The “why me” and feeling sorry or down as if it’s somehow your fault. You might feel guilt or shame. The reality is, when it comes to type 1 diabetes, there’s nothing that can be done to prevent it. You’ll have to learn to practice self compassion. Accept your body, the disease, and take comfort in knowing that you’re doing your best. A great way to foster this type of relationship is by doing daily meditation and affirmations.
- “I am patient and ready to accept whatever happens to me today.”
- “I cannot control life but I can control how I react.”
- “My life is valuable to me and I make my health and wellbeing a priority.”
- “I work with my body, not against it.”
- “There are some things I cannot do but there are so many things I can do.”
- “I deserve to be healthy and happy.”
Pick one and repeat it silently or out loud to yourself for 2-3 minutes in the morning or during a break in the day. Also, try not to compare yourself to others, particularly others with this disease. Everyone’s bodies and lifestyles are different so their management might look different from yours. Focus on yourself and how you can make small improvements each day.
Lean on Your Community
One of the best ways to find support is through community. This is especially true with diabetes. Connecting and befriending others who are living with diabetes can be a fulfilling and validating experience. Talk with someone who has gone through that same specific struggle. You’ll be amazed at how liberating and comforting it is!
When connected with community, you’ll feel less isolated and more empowered to talk about the disease openly and with confidence. Overall, the emotional support gained is almost unmatched. There are many ways to find community. Local meet-ups are a common occurrence in cities, but there are also online chats and groups on social media, podcasts, camps, and even getaways for children and adults!
Be an Advocate for Yourself
Being an advocate is all about recognizing when you’re not being treated fairly or simply advocating for better care and awareness. This is all an important part of feeling emotionally supported in an chronically ill body. Your experience matters. Your voice is important. The more people speak up for themselves, the more awareness others will have and in return, be able to provide better support.
Keeping quiet about chronic conditions like diabetes can be helpful in some situations when diabetics just want to be treated equally, however it can also be taxing to hide such a big part of your life. To advocate for yourself, ask for what you need in terms of support whether this be at the doctor’s office, with friends and family, at work, or in a relationship. Sharing is the best way to feel heard!
Diabetes is a largely misunderstood and stigmatized illness that many people have preconceived notions about. At the end of the day, spreading more awareness is important not just for yourself, but the entire community. It’s no small feat and definitely takes courage. Some days will be harder than others. Over time, the hope is that these self-care rituals will become a normal part of daily life. You’ll be able to thrive and diabetes will take up less mental and physical space in your life. Giving time and space to your diabetes, practicing self compassion, finding community, and using your voice will ensure you feel emotionally supported and safe to discover all the other aspects of your life and growth.