The Emotional Pain of Diabetes.

The Emotional Pain of Diabetes

When we say the word ‘pain’, physical pain is often what comes to mind. I’d suggest most people have had physical pain at some point in their life even if it was only from a paper cut. Many people with diabetes live with chronic physical pain from things like finger pricks to the more serious neuropathy that can affect our feet and other parts of our body.

I believe the emotional pain and anxiety that some of us live with is often overlooked. Similar to other chronic diseases, diabetes is not something that people can ‘see’. It is invisible to those around us. It only becomes visible if someone sees you checking your blood sugars or they see your continuous glucose monitor or insulin pump attached to your body. Or if you choose to share this part of your life with others. So if diabetes is invisible, how would anyone know the emotional pain that some diabetic folks live with? The simple answer is they don’t. It is very real for many people. This emotional pain can eventually move to anxiety or depression which complicates coping with diabetes even further.

Diabetes and judgement

Imagine living your life feeling like others look at you, or speak, with blame.
“You have always been overweight (or obese) and now you have diabetes, that’s your own fault.”
“You are doing nothing to fix this.”
“Why don’t you just lose weight?”
“The reason you have diabetes is…”

If you think folks with diabetes don’t hear these callous and mean-spirited comments, you are mistaken. We all know, people can be very judgmental about things they know nothing about. Unfortunately, many read an article and consider themselves educated or the authority on diabetes. They can’t wait to tell you what they know. Or worse yet, what you did wrong.

Let’s say now I take those comments to heart. To begin with, they hurt, big time. Then I question myself. Did I do this to myself? Why didn’t I lose weight? I blame myself…if only I had done this or that… Now the pain, the emotional pain, becomes real. My self esteem has likely been affected and maybe even lowered. It takes great resiliency to be able to deal with those types of comments and not be affected by them. It is hard enough to deal with diabetes itself and the huge learning curve without having to deal with painful comments!

There is naturally some anxiety attached to diabetes. It is scary and many people are afraid of what it means to them long term. For some people that fear or anxiety is not easily controlled. Diabetic routines are rigorous and at times complicated. Most of the time these routines must be kept to ensure healthful living without complications. Anxiety can be heightened by all the negativity we read about on the web related to diabetes or our innate belief that we have to have perfect numbers, to be perfect. I’m not sure perfect exists and if it does, what would it take to get there? Is it any wonder depression is prevalent among people with diabetes? Diabetes is not an easy health concern to live with.

Professional and personal support

All is not lost though. There is help and support both professionally, and, personally in our own diabetic community. No one, I repeat, no one knows what it’s like to live with diabetes better than another person with it. But we have to find each other out there to get the support. We look after all our physical needs. We need to look after our emotional ones too and deal with the emotional pain. As the ones living with diabetes, we shouldn’t hesitate to ask each other how we are coping, not as a replacement for professional care but in addition to. Hopefully we can reduce the emotional pain felt just by caring enough to ask and being there for one another.

I’ll go out on a limb and say we all live with some degree of anxiety or emotional pain related to our diabetes. Let’s reduce both if we can. Hugs.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


View Comments (7)
  • Shelley, TheLongPointGirl moderator author
    1 year ago

    Hi BeckyDee I think I’m glad diabetes is not popular in my family! The one time I’m glad I’m alone in this! Lol.

  • Shelley, TheLongPointGirl moderator author
    1 year ago

    Hi BeckyDee. Thanks so much for your insight and the path you can steer students on. They will take that knowledge and be change agents in terms of beliefs about Type 2 diabetes. What a great lesson for them!

  • BeckyDee
    1 year ago

    I have been a nurse, a nurse educator, and a Certified Diabetes Educator as well as having Type 2 diabetes. I was teaching a class of nurses aides when one student held up her hand and asked, “Are you going to talk about the diabetes that people give themselves?” What an excellent question! Do you realize that absolutely no one gives themselves a disease! Diseases start at the cellular level. We do not have conscious control of our bodies at that level. I know a person that weighs 350 pounds that doesn’t have type 2 diabetes. I know people that are active and not overweight that do have type 2 diabetes. I know people that smoked that never got lung cancer and died in their late 80’s. I had a young cousin that died of lung cancer and never smoked! I again state: People Do Not Give Themselves Disease. Everyone that has any disease, diabetes included, did not “give” themselves that disease. All are at the mercy of their DNA and their Environment! All deserve our respect and empathy in our imperfect world. Hugs and prayers to all who are hurting!

  • Shelley, TheLongPointGirl moderator author
    1 year ago

    Hi AudreyNickel, I didn’t respond right away to your insightful post because I was angry at the ignorance of trolls and the comments you’ve read. I was afraid I would lash out. Maybe under the circumstances that would be ok, but I’ll refrain. The nastiness of some people when they can hide behind the Internet astounds me. We all need to not give trolls any power. Hopefully the moderators on that site removed them. Hugs to you for your bravery in talking about it. Please don’t let anyone take the wind out of your sails.

  • AudreyNickel
    1 year ago

    People are so misinformed about Type 2. I was casually watching a teen news show one Saturday and they did a section on diabetes. The young reporter described Type 2 as “The diabetes you give yourself by having poor eating habits and not exercising enough.” Seriously, kid? And later I was reading an article in which some people had commented on diabetes. Someone posted “I care about people with Type 1, but those of you who have Type 2 deserve to die because you did this to yourself” (he followed up with a wish that we’d die soon and reduce the burden on other people).

    Those kinds of things can really be disheartening. I always hold onto something my dietitian said” “ALL diabetes consists of two things: heredity and a trigger.” I’ve definitely got the heredity! Type 2 runs so consistently in my family we actually call it “the family disease.” Some of my family members were overweight when they were diagnosed, but many were slender and active. Who knows what the trigger was? It is what it is. But I didn’t “do this to myself,” and I refuse to let people like that get to me.

  • BeckyDee
    1 year ago

    As a diabetes educator I have heard from a lot of people with diabetes. One told me that “Diabetes is very popular in my family!” I had never thought of it that way. Diabetes is very popular in my family also!

  • Margot moderator
    1 year ago

    Wow AudreyNickel, thank you so much for sharing this with us here. It is hard to see this stigma existing places like these in addition to experiences the community may have with it in their lives! Hopefully, as awareness about type 2 diabetes increases we will see this stigma decrease. I like what your dietitian said, and it is a good thing for those with diabetes to keep in mind especially when faced with this stigma! You are not alone. Thinking of you!

    Margot, Team Member

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