Define What Support Looks Like For You
Diabetes is no easy task to manage. In fact, it’s no one task at all; there is a lot that goes into it. Gaining support for managing diabetes and all that goes along with it is going to help you to better manage diabetes.1-3 Plus, as Adam Brown states in his book, Bright Spots & Landmines: The diabetes guide I wish someone had handed me, “there is no badge of honor for doing diabetes alone”.4 But, the thing about support is, you have got to find out what that support is for you.
What does support look like for you?
Support can be a very subjective and dynamic thing. My view of support is going to look very different as compared to your idea of support. And, it can look different at different times in life. I like to have each person I work with describe what that support looks like for them at their current point in life; then it is helpful to list out the resources for that support that is available to them.
Varying types of support
When we think of support we often just go to the idea of something like a walking partner. But there are many types and forms of support. Outside of individuals, there are programs, tools, products, and places that can provide us with support for managing diabetes and for living healthy lives. When it comes to supporting people, there is a great deal of variety in who can be supportive, how they deliver that support, and areas of support that best serves your needs. And, if we don’t identify what that support looks like, it can be really easy for it to come off as nagging and annoying.
The right level of support
Here is an example: you have had diabetes for years and feel confident in your understanding of it, but your friend who is also a nurse tries to give you general info and advice about diabetes upon learning that you have it. Perhaps this would have been welcomed information when you were first diagnosed a few years ago but, right now, it just feels annoying and like that person is overstepping, judging, and undermining your intelligence. Instead, you may find it more helpful to learn about how to get insurance coverage for your test strips, which may be practical information your nurse friend has.
Getting to the specifics of support
Perhaps the support you could use right now is in remembering to take your medications, or a walking partner to help you stick to your goals for being active. Or maybe you are feeling burned out by diabetes and could use a sounding board or emotional support. Maybe it is support for improving eating choices and it would be helpful if your spouse was supportive of healthier cooking choices or didn’t bring tempting sweets into the home. Or you could use the professional support and insight of working with a dietitian to learn meal planning and strategies for healthy eating with diabetes.
You don't have to do it alone
Ask yourself: “What do I need support with right now? Who do I know that can help me with that? How can I approach them/request this support?” It may be helpful to ask these questions about each of your goals relating to eating habits, physical activity, healthy coping, etc.
Remember that, when it comes to managing your health and your diabetes, no one can do it but you. However, no one expects you to do it on your own. In fact, it is expected and necessary to gain support from others at various times and for various needs.
Has diabetes changed your exercise routine?