Do the constant up’s and down’s of having Type 1 Diabetes have you looking for a good support system to lift you up when you feel bad? You are not alone, in fact most of those who are diagnosed have felt alone multiple times in the treatment and management of their diabetes. It is really hard for non-diabetics to understand the struggles and stresses of constantly having to manage and treat a disease. It never allows for any breaks and people having no compassion when you have missed sleep because glucose measurements were too high or too low and even being put in the hospital for such issues. It is really enough to drive anyone crazy not even counting all the finical stress of having it. These are just a few reasons why having a good support system is so crucial.
The first thing required for a good support system is educating your close friends and loved ones on this disease. You can not expect them to help if they don’t know what to do when you are struggling. Make your own diabetes education class for them. You could make a power point, or find a good video online that explains it, or make posters to show them what happens. Really you can do anything just put your thinking cap on and get creative. First explain how you got Type 1 Diabetes. That there is no cure, and that they can’t catch it. Explain what a high blood sugar is and the warning signs that they can look for. Same with low blood sugar. Explain how if you tell them you don’t feel good the first thing, they should do is have you check your blood glucose. If high treat with insulin correction. If you are low have them give you a snack or juice. Tell them it can take some time to fix a high and just a few mins for a low. Explain that you do most of the care yourself but if you start acting or looking weird to them you may need their help. Also let them know specific things that can mess with your blood sugar for example: certain kinds of foods, stress, and being sick. So, if your high or low it may not be from eating the wrong thing, other outside factors can impact your numbers.
The second thing you need is community of diabetics who can relate to your problems. That will help you feel like your experiences are not weird they are normal for someone like you and while you are doing your best to control it occasionally everyone makes mistakes. A Facebook support group or in person support group are amazing for your mental health. One thing I wish I had done when I was younger was go to a diabetes camp. I was too scared. Honestly, I was afraid I would get sick and no one would know what to do. This was a silly fear at a camp for diabetics all the counselors would know exactly what to do. It would have been nice as a kid to have friends like me because I felt very isolated since all my friends were “healthy”. This just made it that much worse because I could see all the things they got to do and enjoy and I felt so alone.
The third thing you need is a doctor that believes in you and wants the absolute best for you as their patient. This might be the hardest yet most important thing on the list. The first endocrinologist I had as a child was a smart older lady but there were always residents and student doctors in the room where I went, and it made me feel uncomfortable like I was some sort of lab rat. I can still remember the smell of the office it smelled like rubbing alcohol all the time and made me sick to my stomach. As an adult I can see that I had white coat syndrome as a child because of having to go to the doctors so much and my numbers never really being under control. I was always afraid that I was in trouble for having a high A1C. I’m currently on my third diabetic doctor and I have to say he is the best so far. He has gotten me on a new pump and CGM since I started seeing him. He is amazing and really gives me the confidence that no other doctor has instilled in me before. A good doctor can make all the difference in the world in how you view your health. I know its not easy but remember you deserve a doctor that makes you feel comfortable and wants the best for your health. If you don’t feel like you have a good relationship with your doctor maybe its time to look for a new one. I know it can be scary but it is totally worth it to have a good endocrinologist.
By following these three easy steps and having good family support, friends who know what you are going through, and a doctor who can help you navigate the rough road of diabetes you will be able to overcome anything this disease can throw at you. Things like loneliness, depression, and having a sence of no direction or treatment plan will be things of the past on your way to a bright future managing your Type 1 Diabetes.
By: Miranda Montgomery (Type 1 diabetic for 20+ years) Admin for Type 1 Diabetes Support Group on Facebook with 12.8K members