Diabetes Is Tough to Deal With
Life with diabetes is tough. Not only do you have to deal with a chronic, long term condition that has no cure – but you have to do this largely on your own, every day for the rest of your life, all the while under the cloud of the possibility of developing long term complications.
Watch the short video below to learn about Diabetes effects on the body.
Some people can reach out to the support of family members and health care professionals, however at times this support can feel more like well meaning but ‘scolding’ health care professionals and loving but ‘nagging’ family members.
Dealing with diabetes can therefore feel like a very lonely place. The diabetes life has been likened to a job; in which you work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year with no break, no holiday, no reward and no praise. You wouldn’t stay in a job like that for very long! However the person with diabetes has to do this every day, perhaps all the while being told, “It’s only diabetes. What’s the big deal?”
A further complexity with diabetes is that it is a medical problem so it is therefore dealt with in a medical setting – with a focus on the medical regime of insulin dosage, weight management, blood glucose control and so on. However in the busy setting of a medical clinic, there is often limited opportunity to discuss the daily challenges, frustrations and stresses of living with diabetes. Sometimes it feels like our well-meaning medical team are repeating the same good advice every time we visit – test your blood glucose more, eat less, exercise more, smoke less, check your feet more, drink less.
The problem is, you are usually aware of what you should be doing – the struggle is in implementing it consistently. You may leave the diabetes clinic full of motivation, adamant that his time will be different. But weeks, days or even hours later, you lose track and struggle to get back on target.
The reason for this is a simple one – knowledge about what you should be doing just isn’t enough. A research trial conducted in the 1980s, ‘The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial’, conclusively demonstrated that achieving tight blood glucose control improves health and well being. Yet this knowledge alone was shown to have little impact on the day to day behaviour of people with diabetes. This is similar to the warnings provided on cigarette packets, which have been demonstrated to actually only make a small impact on the desire for smokers to give up.
There are a whole range of reasons why people struggle to implement the health advice they know they should be following. This is because health does not exist in isolation from the person. It is affected by a complex interaction of meanings, emotions, thoughts, memories, behaviours, relationships with others and much more. Diabetes doesn’t just affect your body, it affects your emotions and mind too. These can have an extremely profound affect and interact with your ability to care for your diabetes. There is an important but often neglected psychological aspect to living with the condition.
By Dr. Jen Nash
Dr. Jen Nash, The Diabetes Psychologist, is a Clinical Psychologist who has had type 1 diabetes for over 20 years. She understands first hand the psychological impact that the demands of managing diabetes can cause.
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