Talking about Your Type 2 Diabetes Part 2
Aug 06, 2019
In Part 1 of this 2-part series about talking to your friends and family about your Type 2 Diabetes, I wrote about who to talk to, why to talk to them, and what they need to know about Type 2 Diabetes to really support you.
I think some of the things people need to know about Diabetes are pretty heavy and I hope you spent a bit of time wrapping your mind around them and owning them. This isn’t the easy, breezy disease that we sometimes gloss over in our minds. Give yourself credit for taking charge of your health and facing your Diabetes head on!
Let’s get back to the things you need to talk to your important people about. These tips are practical things you can tell your family and friends as they look for ways to support you. I’ve written these from a first-person perspective because it’s so personal. These are the things that I need and I’m guessing you do too. Of course, feel free to personalize these items for your situation.
People who want to be supportive should NOT:
- Police lifestyle choices. Unless I’ve specifically asked for help with a certain lifestyle change, it’s NOT cool when someone tells me what I should and shouldn’t do. There’s nothing I hate more than when a “well meaning” friend says “are you sure you want to eat that?” If I’ve asked for help remembering my dietary changes, then sure, gently prod me in the right direction. Otherwise, assume I’ve done the calculation and am making a conscious decision about what I want to eat. Same goes for exercise, taking my medication, monitoring my blood glucose. I’m an adult and my health is mine to care for.
- Gasp "I could never do THAT . . . " about things that are necessary for health for someone with Diabetes. I assure you, I don’t want to poke my finger before every meal or skip my favorite pastry with my morning coffee. I do these things because they’re the best decisions for my health. If you had to, you probably would do them, too. You may THINK that you’re pointing out how noble it is that I’m doing the things necessary for my best health, but, in fact, it just makes me notice how different I am from everyone else. I want my new normal to feel NORMAL, not noble.
- Try to fix Diabetes by mentioning the latest article or what worked for someone else. Please don’t try to fix me. It seems that every day there’s a Facebook post about some miracle cure for Diabetes. Chances are, if it’s legit, I already know about it. If you DO find something you think I might find interesting or helpful, please ask me if I want to know about it. Please understand that I’m being bombarded with information from many directions and your “helpful” advice may not be received as helpful.
People who want to be supportive absolutely SHOULD:
- Listen without giving advice. There are times when I’m going to just need to vent. Please be my friend and support and remember that I’ve got medical people for the advice part.
- Support healthy choices, even if they don’t agree. Diabetes is hard to do. I’m working with my medical team to find the best approach and we may try many things before we find what words best. So even if you think I’m not doing the thing that’s best because you know someone who treated their Diabetes differently, please support me and help me follow through with my plan.
- Encourage the person with Diabetes to remain engaged. Diabetes feels all-consuming and sometimes I just want to stay home rather than endure another evening at a restaurant where I feel awkward because it takes me longer than before to choose a healthy option and I have to take my blood sugar and maybe some medication. Depression rates are high for people with Diabetes. Please help me to not withdraw.
- Celebrate victories over Diabetes, no matter how small. It might not seem like a big deal, but I need to be reminded that it IS a big deal when I see improvement in my disease. Remind me that improvements happen because *I* did something to cause the improvement. On the flip side, remind me that it’s not my fault when treatments aren’t working and that I can keep trying other options until we figure out what’s right for me.
Of course, you should feel free to add specific examples of what you find helpful and unhelpful.
I want your biggest take away from this to be that the people who care for you want the best for you, but they can’t give you their best unless you tell them what’s helpful and what’s not. “The Talk” can be scary, but it’s definitely worthwhile!
Head over to the Facebook page to join the conversation about talking about your Diabetes. What worked and what didn’t? What’s holding you back from talking to your important people? What did you/will you add to the conversation?
If you didn’t get it on the “Part One” post, make sure you download the worksheet and sample script I’ve created to help you prepare what you want to tell your friends and family about your Type 2 Diabetes.