Telling people about your Type 2 Diabetes is something that many people find difficult. One more thing in the middle of trying to figure out how to live with this diagnosis!
Even though it’s difficult, telling those closest to you about your diagnosis is important. Why?
So, who should you talk to? Your health is personal and you get to decide who you want to talk to about your diabetes. Early on, I usually recommend sharing information with as few people as possible until you figure out what YOU want. You can always tell more people later but can’t take back private information once it’s out in the world. Having said that, there are a few people you really should consider talking to.
Now that we’ve got the “why” and the “who,” what is there to talk about? I think it’s important for your people to understand three important things about Type 2 Diabetes before they can support you.
Did you know that Type 2 Diabetes is NOT caused by eating too much sugar and gaining weight? While those things can make it worse, Diabetes is actually caused by lots of things coming together, including genetics and environmental causes. Lifestyle things we all think of can contribute and definitely make it worse, but plenty of people are making the same (or worse!) choices and seem to be very healthy. Many people diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes seem to be “doing everything right.” A huge component of developing Diabetes is losing the genetic lottery of metabolic health.
Many people with Type 2 Diabetes struggle with thinking that Diabetes is something they caused. It’s important that the people closest to them don’t perpetuate this misconception, adding to the shame and blame of Diabetes. As you talk to your support people, do your best to trust yourself when you say this isn’t your fault. It’s a hard thing to wrap your mind but losing the shame is an important part of living your healthiest life.
Treatment for Diabetes is not “one size fits all.” Some people are able to completely manage their diabetes with lifestyle changes while other progress to medication, despite seemingly similar circumstances.
Treatment options can be really complicated and what works for one person might not work for someone else and vice versa. We’ve all heard horror stories about someone’s Aunt Ida who had all her toes amputated or Uncle Chet who went blind because of their Diabetes. This does not mean any of this will happen to you and it’s important that your support people understand that every person with Diabetes is an individual, and the disease has no predetermined course. Each person needs to work with their own Diabetes care team to figure out what’s best for THEM.
One of the biggest surprises for many people is how much time, money, and emotional energy Diabetes takes!
Diabetes is EXPENSIVE! Insurance covers some of it but there are still lots of out-of-pocket expenses. Lifestyle changes such as improving diet and adding activity can be costly.
Diabetes takes a LOT of time! Medical appointments to go to, blood sugar monitoring, extra time to figure out what to eat and cooking healthy food, adding in more routine exercise than before, and time spent researching the disease all add up. Most people end up taking extra time off work to get to all their appointments.
All this adds up to a huge emotional toll. While Type 2 Diabetes is manageable, it’s a lot of work. There’s a high rate of depression among people with Diabetes. This is understandable when looking at the huge toll it takes on all areas of life. It’s important that your support people understand that Diabetes is more than a simple problem that can be solved by skipping dessert and taking a pill; it seeps into all areas of your life and can quickly become overwhelming.
I just covered some big stuff in this blog post. In the next blog post we’ll talk about SPECIFIC ways your important people can help you out: things for them to avoid doing as well as things they should definitely do.
Meanwhile, I encourage to take a few minutes to think about who you should be talking to about your Diabetes and what you might want to include in your talk with them. I’ve developed a worksheet to prepare your talk. Some of it will make more sense after the next blog post but you can get started now by clicking below to download the worksheet.