Meet the Advocates: Megan’s Journey Helping Those With Diabetes
Our latest 'Meet the Advocates' series includes details about their experience helping others along their diabetes journey. Meet, Megan!
What would you tell someone newly diagnosed?
Take a deep breath. You’re going to be okay. Too often in the medical world, we throw out these fear-evoking stats about losing body parts or function. This makes me crazy, as too often this causes someone to feel complications are inevitable—paralyzing them from managing diabetes well. Or, evokes the opposite reaction, a drive for severe restriction and perfection which leads to stress and anxiety over even normal blood sugar levels.
Complications are not inevitable. In fact, there’s a ton of research that shows if you can achieve healthy blood sugars, blood pressure, and cholesterol a majority of the time (notice I didn’t say all the time!), there’s a good chance you’ll have few, if any, complications. And, contrary to what you may have read or heard about, achieving these healthy levels can be done a number of different ways. There’s no “ideal” way, except the one that works best for you and your life. Take a deep breath. You’re going to be okay.
What’s your philosophy on diabetes self-care management
I feel very, very (did I say very?) strongly that diabetes should be managed in the least intrusive way possible. Often, when people are diagnosed with T2D, they’re asked to turn everything on its head and “fix their lifestyle.” This advice is usually without regard for what great health habits someone may already have—and it can often lead to frustration as it gives little direction on what to actually do to manage diabetes well.
Too often, I see folks try to do a huge overhaul of everything in their life, get burnt out and isolated, feel guilty about the fact that they weren’t able to achieve an unrealistic expectation of themselves and then throw the towel in on being able to manage diabetes well. The old adage is true—simplicity and consistency breeds success. My philosophy is always, how can I help you achieve your goal of diabetes success in the path that will create the least burden to you. Because diabetes is only one piece of your life…
How can others take care of themselves when they feel frustrated, burnt out, or down?
Gosh, whether you have diabetes or not, this is important. And, I’ll be the first to admit I’m terrible at it. Life is hard in general! There are so many responsibilities to just everyday routines before you ever get to diabetes! Find a sounding board (professional or not) who can listen, normalize your emotions, and give you encouragement. Someone who recognizes and can remind you that management doesn’t have to be all or nothing to live well with diabetes. A balance of diabetes with other life priorities is essential—for physical and mental health. Also, focusing on the pieces you can control is empowering. When you get overwhelmed, it’s easy to feel like the whole world is crashing down (who hasn’t been there?). You can’t control what your blood sugar might do on a stressful day. You can control if you take your medication. Narrow your focus. Start with one small thing you can do. Give yourself credit for doing it.
What is your favorite part about Type2Diabetes.com?
I love that Type2Diabetes.com brings together so many different voices - advocates of all different experiences creates such a unique community that is rare to find other places!
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your diabetes?