The other day the Diabetes Research Institute asked the question on their Twitter feed, who/what helps you get through the hurdles that you face when dealing with diabetes? This question is very similar to the theme of the Diabetes Advocacy cover page on both Facebook and Google+–finding support amid the stress.
When living with diabetes, we have all had those days. The days when we don’t want to get out of bed. The days that we feel diabetes has won and we just cannot be bothered to fight any more. The days when you just want to cry and cry and cry. The days when you are certain that you just don’t have it in you any more. You are done.
If our child has diabetes, we may take over care for a day to let them just tune out for a short period of time. When it happens and you are the parent or an adult, what do you do?
In my post on the three tips for parents of the newly diagnosed, I give one option to decompress…cry in the shower. Let the water pour over you. Scream and let the tears flow. No one will see your pain but you will be able to watch it flow out of you and hopefully will feel stronger and more refreshed when you emerge.
It is also important to have outside support networks though. Support groups–online or in real life can offer a huge relief. They are made up of people who understand your world. They live there and have experienced many of the same feelings that you have. From these groups, we often find a few people that we “click” with and those individuals often become an even stronger source of support for us.
I was once warned that spending too much time with these people who get it could lead me into depression. It was not a good thing, this person told me, for people to sit around discussing the burdens in their life. I told this person how wrong he was. I had a wonderful group of women that I connected with out of a support group. We enjoyed regular “therapy” sessions that included dinner, drinks, and talk about diabetes, children, and our lives. Sitting with people who understood 3am lows and carb counting errors at school was exceptionally therapeutic. We shared stories of life…and our lives happened to also include diabetes. The connection was a true gift.
I have also been lucky to find this same connection through the internet. Years ago…about 13 years ago to be precise, I stumbled across something called the Children with Diabetes Parents Mailing list. My first email to this list asked how to get my son to eat. He was 3 years old by this time and I had been fighting alone for almost a year. I was at my wit’s end. With that one email came friendships that have grown and lasted to this day. I “met” people who had been where I was and could offer guidance on how to make it through. The best part for me is that they did not always coddle me. They did not always say, “Poor Barb”. Occasionally they said, “Now that you are done whining, pick yourself up and get back to it! Living under a rock is not allowed. You have to join us but we will be here to lean on while you move forward.” Sometimes a well-meaning kick can be the best therapy.
Today, the Diabetes Online Community has grown to reach Facebook, Twitter and many other social media outlets. Diabetes conferences and annual get-togethers are more common and eagerly anticipated by everyone involved.
Over the years diabetes has brought me many amazing friends and acquaintances but first I had to let them in. I had to ask for help…and when I did I was given the greatest gift of all. I was given a family that I never knew I had. A family that was united by tragedy but grew from understanding.
If you are struggling to deal with a diabetes diagnosis of yourself or your loved one, ask for help! Find local support groups through your hospital or local diabetes organization. Go online and search out the DOC on Facebook or Twitter. Follow blogs like this one, share and engage yourself. There are also many great diabetes coaches available to help you. There are coaches and nurses online that will help with diet, exercise and making readings a bit more understood. There are also people like me who will help you to wade through the day-to-day and find your footing with the emotional aspects of the disease. The first step is to ask for help–seek answers and support from friends, family, and outside networks. It truly is the cure for Diabetes-overwhelm-us.