If you are a woman living with type 2 diabetes or caring for someone living with diabetes, you may notice that this can be a very stressful experience. Your life as you knew it seemed to change the instant you were diagnosed. And just like any other chronic illness, there is a lot to be learned.
It may seem that there is no clear place to turn for help on learning about how to live with a chronic illness. Your healthcare providers may have very little time in their double-booked schedules to provide additional information on how to live with diabetes. Diabetes education classes are are a great resource to have a structured curriculum. So these classes may or may not cover your own unique concerns. And then of course the Internet is filled with information overload!
Building a support network is an indispensable tool
If you are living with diabetes or any other chronic illness, do not try going it alone. As women we usually try to put on a brave face and try to do it alone. We may feel afraid to ask for support, because we have a mindset that tells us we don’t want to be a bother to anybody.
We are so used to being caregivers, that may of us have forgotten how to receive care from others.
However, a surefire way to end up stressed out and depressed is to stay with this mindset.
Living with a chronic illness can be stressful. This is why it is important to build a network of people who are there to support you.
There are many ways to build a good support network. The bottom line is you want like-minded people whose sole purpose is to support you, energize you and to raise your spirits up. Period.
The types of support
There are several types of supporters to consider. Try not to lean on just one person for support. Just like different voices in a choir, there may be many types of support that you need. Also depending on the season in your life, the types of support will also change.
Combined they should contribute a high sense of value to your life as a person living with diabetes. If you have people who are attempting to do any other than supporting you such as – convince you that you do not need to be on medication, or that your healthcare provider does not know what they are doing, or recommending some ‘off the cuff’ regimen that they saw on a late night TV infomercial- they are not the kinds of people that you need in your support network.
Below is a list of some of the types of supporters that I recommend that you have:
Emotional supporters- I call these your ‘personal cheerleading squad’. Granted they may not have the faintest idea of what your target blood sugars need to be, but one thing they are good at doing is seeing the glass half full, not half empty. And so emotional supporters are the people that you call on when you are not feeling very optimistic. When you’re doing your best to get your blood sugars under control and it just does not seem to be working well this week.
Your emotional supporters have a great sense of humor and so they help to brighten up your mood. You may even have your emotional supporters willing to go with you on visits to your healthcare providers.
Spiritual Supporters- No matter your religious inclination (or lack thereof), we all have an inkling that that there is much bigger picture than our mere individual existence. And we do not always have the answers why things happen the way they do. Your spiritual supporters are the people who keep you in tune with that bigger picture. Spiritual supporters come in different forms. Spiritual supporters may include your clergy, to a favorite spiritual verse, a special spiritual text or even a spiritual mentor.
Social supporters- this is your social support network. They could be an online social support network of other people living with type 2 diabetes. Or live groups that meet online or offline. Either way, social support networks are a great resource which could help it’s members navigate online as well as offline resources, host meetings or online chats on different topics, be a source of referrals etc. When social support networks are well run, members not only support each other, but they also learn from one another.
Finally, there is the kind support that you can get from your healthcare provider. Usually this may be healthcare based information designed to highlight different aspects of living with diabetes. This kind of support may take the form of exit questions that your healthcare provider’s assistant may ask you at the end of an office visit, or a nurse calling you in between visits. Or even lifestyle coaching! When used well healthcare support provides you with a roadmap that helps you to keep your target goals in full view. By keeping your target goals in view, you are well on your way to living powerfully with diabetes.
To your Health and Wellbeing,
What do you think? Are you getting enough support right now in living with diabetes? Have you been diagnosed with borderline diabetes but don’t have enough information? Do you think online support works?