How to live life to the full with type 2 diabetes
Have you ever thought type 2 diabetes would make everything in life difficult, painful or both? Have you ever thought it would prevent you from living out your hopes and dreams?
Type 2 diabetes impacts people in different ways. No two diagnoses are exactly identical, nor are any two bodies or personal reactions. But equally importantly, the person diagnosed with diabetes is typically not the only one affected.
In a sense, when someone in the family is affected by type 2 diabetes, the whole family unit is affected. And coping with that in the long term can be challenging.
Read on to hear why the key to managing diabetes as a family lies in building solidarity, solving issues and locating support together.
And – not least – in noticing and being grateful for all the positives while dealing with the negatives.
I had been living with type 2 diabetes for seven years when I met my wife. Despite diabetes being a big part of who I am and how I live my life, I was hesitant to share the condition with my wife.
I had heard vague points about the psychological impact of diabetes on patient and family. And I guess I was simply afraid of how she would react to hearing about my diabetes. Would caring for someone with diabetes put her off? Did I have the courage to find out?
But secrecy is best avoided in a relationship. I certainly didn’t want to add the psychological burden of keeping diabetes a secret to the psychological effects of diabetes.
So I decided to go ahead and tell her about my diabetes more or less immediately. And looking back, I am very happy I did because if I hadn’t, not only would I have suppressed an important part of myself – I would have made it impossible for her to support me. And support within a family is a sign of love.
As I continue to learn how to manage diabetes better and better, my wife is proving immensely supportive towards me. And I can say the same for my son who often helps me monitor my blood glucose levels. Together the three of us have turned managing diabetes as a family into something of an art form!
By always being open about diabetes with your family, you allow it to drive support, emotional generosity and mutual empathy – rather than lead to secrecy, airbrushed truths and counterproductive play-acting.
Don’t let type 2 diabetes become the third partner in your relationship. Always be open about your diabetes.
I’ve already mentioned a key point above: That the best way to manage diabetes as a family lies in building solidarity, solving issues and locating support together. The “together” part is particularly important.
By involving everyone in managing diabetes as a family, you allow it to unite you rather than divide you. And by uniting, you force diabetes challenges to shrink and become ever more manageable.
It may be a learning curve, of course, but in my experience important and valuable things always require effort. So don’t let that worry you. A good place to start is to get your hands on as much good diabetes information as possible.
As you continue to learn about diabetes management from healthcare professionals, written and online sources, patient support groups etc., share it with your family. Don’t be afraid to give expression to your thoughts and diabetes-related theories with them.
A family is a kind of ecosystem of energy, courage, acceptance, willpower and other feelings necessary for a happy and secure life. Given how interdependent members of a family actually are, YOUR well-being as a consequence of diabetes matters. It matters to you AND your loved-ones.
So rather than being a martyr by silently bearing it when things are a little rough, look for opportunities to overcome them. And as soon as you manage that, even in a small way, declare it a victory openly – and don’t forget to take ownership of it proudly.
Every triumph you can claim is so much good cheer and useful energy for you and your family’s next challenge.
Dialogue, sharing, connecting, opening up, hashing it out… No matter what you call it, communicating well is not only important. It’s essential to a family in which everyone has a positive mental outlook.
As with anything, practice makes perfect. So my third tip is to talk regularly and at some length with your family members. Use daily meals – dinner works for us – as a time to discuss how everyone is doing.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re directly affected or caring for someone with diabetes (or even someone predisposed towards the condition). Nothing encourages the therapeutic sharing of perspectives as much as sitting down to a good meal together.
And while I’m on the subject of food, don’t forget how crucial a healthy diet is to diabetes management. In that light, the useful conversation can actually begin in the kitchen.
Here are some diabetes-friendly recipes you and your family can create and enjoy together.
I have already talked briefly about taking ownership whenever your diabetes management is going well. It’s a really important point, so let me expand it by adding a few thoughts.
In addition to giving yourselves credit for managing diabetes successfully, try to make a point of celebrating your successes.
Why is that important, you ask?
Managing diabetes optimally is a team effort. Regardless of who is on your team (doctor, dietician, fitness instructor, spouse or partner, other family members, fellow patients), team spirit is enhanced and deepened by a collective and positive mental outlook on life.
Taking the time to celebrate successes, big and small, with your family is a sure way to secure such an outlook.
What exactly do I mean by “celebrate” in this context? It’s kind of up to you and can be anything from making sure to notice, acknowledge and express gratitude for everything going well – to making a special occasion out of them, say, by doing something fun or enjoyable together.
Speaking personally, here’s a success story related to my own diabetes management: It has taught me how to value the small (but truly important) things in life. Seeing my family caring for me without ever tiring is both humbling and gratifying.
I never take it for granted. I feel very lucky. Surely, not everyone can pull off supporting and caring for someone with diabetes as effortlessly as my wife and son.
In that way, diabetes has both deepened and strengthened bonds within my family. To me, that’s success at a level I would never have imagined could result from a disease related to something as arcane as insulin, glucose and the need for healthy habits.
The advice is based on the writer’s experience and may deviate from professional opinion in medicine and science. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management routines.