Most people, when diagnosed with diabetes, go through at least one period of denial. Denial is a time when you do not believe that your diabetes will truly affect you. It is a time when you feel exempt from reality: “surely, not me!” Denial at a diabetes diagnosis is fairly common, and a normal part of dealing with the news. It is longstanding denial that can be dangerous to your health.
People choose denial for a variety of reasons. In some cases, it might seem easiest to ignore the problem so it will go away. In other cases, a person will be scared of the responsibility that diabetes brings. This might even occur later in their life when they get diabetes fatigue or burnout from caring for a condition day in and day out.
You might be in denial about your diabetes if you find yourself rationalizing things. When you rationalize, you try to make something seem like it is okay or fine. You might say to yourself, “one bite won’t hurt,” or “I can miss one day of exercise.” The reality is that these are just the things that can hurt you when you have diabetes, and they can lead to more fluctuations in your blood sugar, which in turn can lead to complications from your diabetes.
There are a few areas that diabetics are most likely to rationalize about. The two major points are diet and exercise. Without maintaining a healthy diet and exercise schedule, diabetics can put themselves at severe risk. Diabetics in denial can also avoid proper self-monitoring for blood glucose levels. You might feel that you no longer need to test your blood sugar because you will just know what your level is at by how you feel. Although you will get more adept at gauging your blood sugar independently, you can never stop testing, because many other factors influence the way you feel. You wouldn’t want your blood glucose to spike because you confused the beginnings of a cold with low blood sugar.
People with diabetes might also smoke and think that it will not affect their lives. The truth of the matter is that smoking will kill you if you have diabetes or not. If you have diabetes, it will increase your chance of complications. “Just one puff” is too much.
If you are in denial, you might think that your type 2 diabetes is not serious. If you feel that taking pills is less serious than injecting insulin, you might be right. This, however, is not a reason to neglect yourself, because not properly managing your type 2 diabetes can lead to insulin dependence.
Managing diabetes is a time consuming process. You need to check your feet for complications, as well as go to the doctor’s office more often. You might be jealous of your friends and family because they have much less responsibility for their health. This is not productive for you. Remember that taking care of your diabetes is actually time that you spend taking care of you. You can even reward yourself for positive diabetes management habits. Perhaps if you are diligent with your diet, exercise, and self-monitoring of blood glucose for a month, you will reward yourself with a massage, or a new shirt, or a new book.
There will be periods when you feel that managing your diabetes is out of your reach and not possible. This is not the case. You can manage your diabetes, and you can cope with it.
Write down your diabetes-related goals in a workbook. Having your goals written down will help you to achieve them. Chart your progress towards these goals. Often, the simple fact of knowing that you will write down your food at the end of the day makes you eat healthier so that you feel good about yourself when you write it down.
Tell your friends and family about your diabetes. Explain to them that encouraging you to go off your diet and exercise is not helpful, and help them understand the consequences that can occur. If your friends and family know about your diabetes, they will be able to help you stick to your healthy habits.
You can get over periods of denial about diabetes. Your diabetes management will help prevent complications and will allow you to lead a long and fulfilling life.
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