Gain the Right Diabetes Support by Sharing These Insights With Loved Ones
Last updated: March 2022
Do you have loved ones who just “don’t get it” when it comes to your diabetes? Do you have loved ones that you would like to ask for support but worry they will go overboard? If that’s you, send this to your loved one.
First, remember that showing support for a person with diabetes can be challenging and it’s not easy to understand what you are going through. It’s difficult to fully explain what it’s like into words and to accurately describe the full range of challenges and emotions. But it is unrealistic to expect others to even come close to understanding unless we take the time to explain it.
Asking for diabetes support from loved ones
I encourage you to explain it to your loved ones in your own words and what the best support would look like for you. Nonetheless, here are just a few things loved ones should know:
Diabetes is hard
It’s often referred to as a fulltime job that you never applied for, don’t get paid for, and never have any weekends off or vacations. What’s more, is that diabetes comes with a lot of pressure and expectations.
Once you get a diabetes diagnosis, suddenly your behaviors seem to be under a microscope. Everyone feels the freedom to provide their input. And this input is almost never requested and often tangled in a web of misinformation.
A diabetes diagnosis doesn’t wave some sort of magic wand and spur a total life change motivation. But usually, that’s what others expect. It makes you feel like you are constantly being judged and like you will never live up to the expectation.
Perfection is impossible
It’s important to remember that perfection is impossible...that’s right, it's not going to happen. That means that even the most intentional and disciplined person with diabetes will not eat “perfectly” and will have peaks and valleys in activity levels or self-care behaviors.
Even forgetting a medication dose may happen rarely and, when it does, the world doesn’t stop turning and no one should be reprimanded for it. Checking blood sugar can be a very emotionally-charged task and people have different routines for this; there is no one-size-fits-all.
Blood sugars are not constant
And, now this is a big one, blood sugars will not stay in target range. Yes, certain behaviors (eating habits, activity, and taking medications) are key players that influence blood sugar levels. However, there are literally dozens of factors that can influence blood sugar, many of which are outside of your control.
Criticism is never okay
No one should ever be criticized for high or low blood sugars, even if you see a person with diabetes engaging in behaviors that may not be the healthiest.
“True support shouldn’t make us feel guilty, sad, ashamed, embarrassed, or attacked -- ever -- even when we’re doing everything wrong and ignoring all the rules and sabotaging our own health.”1
If this ever happens and your loved one with diabetes feels this way, that person is likely going to end up resenting you. They will likely avoid reaching out for genuine support at all costs and your relationship and/or their health may suffer as a result.
Also, it is more likely that the person will actually continue with the behavior you criticized them for simply as an act of rebellion and demonstration of independence. This is that “Oh yeah, I’ll show you who can’t eat that cookie” reaction. That’s not really what either of you wants and you both end up frustrated.
Blood sugars can have an emotional response
Loved ones and friends should know that certain blood sugars can cause an emotional roller coaster. Not everyone is the same but highs and lows can cause you to feel emotional, irritable, confused, etc.
That’s why it’s generally best to avoid having important conversations during highs or lows. Let loved ones know if you are experiencing these symptoms and request a delay in the conversation until your blood sugar has stabilized.
How often do you find yourself craving sweet snacks?