Importance of Support
Author's Perspective: Emotional support and spirituality are critical to being able to successfully fight and conquer any disease, including diabetes. Emotional support and spirituality (your inner spirit) also help to reduce the stress in your life.
There is no doubt in my mind that without God and the support of my mother, daughter, sister, brother, and so many other people, I believe that I would either still be diabetic today or dead.
And, if it weren't for being able to find the humor in dealing with the doctors and drugs and laugh sometimes, I would have gone crazy. :-)
FYI: Here is a collage that represents the scope of the support that I have received during my recovery, my upbringing and when I wrote my book, Death to Diabetes. Support came from family, friends, co-workers, my hometown, school, churches, and the community.
Support: Family, Friends, Work, Community
Emotional Support = Success & Happiness
Diabetes General Support
There are many places where you can obtain emotional support:
- Your family members and friends
- Your community, e.g. a local support group
- Your church, e.g. pastor, church leader, church member
- Your inner spirit (spirituality)
- A member of your healthcare team, i.e. dietitian, health coach
- Training class, workshop, webinar, teleseminar
- Internet, e.g. online support group
- Educational materials, e.g. diabetes book, DVD
Diabetes Medical Support: Care Team
For your medical and healthcare support, it is important to have the right people on your diabetes care team. Your diabetes care team may include most or all of the following, depending on your specific health needs:
- Primary doctor
- Diabetes educator
- Diabetes health coach
- Nurse educator
- Eye Doctor
- Exercise trainer
Refer to the Doctor Appointments webpage for more information about roles and responsibilities of these members of your diabetes care and medical support team.
Diabetic Support Groups
There are several types of support groups to meet individual needs. Support groups may be led by a professional, such as a nurse, social worker, diabetes educator, psychologist or by other patients. These groups usually focus on providing key information and sharing their personal experiences, successes and failures, but they also provide hope and emotional support, so that members realize that they are not alone in their battle with diabetes.
Because support groups can vary in approach, size and how often they meet, patients should find a group that they are comfortable with and that meets their individual needs.
If you can't find a local support group or if you can't travel to their meetings, consider joining an online support group. Just be careful -- just because someone is running a support group or just because the members have been together la long time, don't assume that they're experts! In most cases, they're not ...
Sharing your feelings and experiences with a group that’s struggling with the same disease you have can be very empowering and relaxing. A support group can make living with diabetes or any disease a lot easier in the short term.
The basic goal of a support group is to give you a way to share and learn about your disease. A group also helps you to feel understood, and can give you new ideas to help cope with problems. It can also help you feel good about yourself because you’ll be helping others in the group.
Note: If you would like to set up and run a diabetic support group, contact our office for help.
How to Maximize Your Support System
Here are some tips that will help you to maximize your support system, and reduce the social impacts:
Environment: Surround yourself with positive people that strengthen your hope.
Join a local diabetic support group to learn how to help yourself and to help others. Join a diabetic support forum if you have a computer.
Education: Educate yourself about the science – this will prevent you from being misled by well-intentioned people in the support group or forum.
Learn from others in the support group by being observant. This may sound a little crude, but you should observe what sick people do and do the opposite, that is don’t do what sick people do.
Acquiring knowledge will empower you. Fear is created due to the unknown. Our faith is weakened by fear. But, when you acquire the power -- the knowledge -- to defeat the disease, you gain confidence, hope and faith in yourself.
Fear and Faith cannot coexist in the same space. So, believing in yourself and having faith in a higher power reduces the fear.
Family: If you are married or have a significant other, share your diabetes management with them. Most diabetics have better glucose control, a better sex life and a better relationship when they openly communicate and share their diabetes management with their spouse or partner. For example, if your partner knows that you tend to get down or moody when you have a high or low glucose reading, then, they will realize that it wasn’t something that they did and, as a result, they may be able to help to lift your spirits.
If You're Single/Divorced/No Children: Finding support will be more challenging and will require more work on your part. Seek support from friends and co-workers. Join a local support group or start one in your church! Or, join our Facebook Page and online support group.
Speak out and let other family members know that you’re diabetic. Don’t be embarrassed to share what is happening to you. For whatever reason, diseases like diabetes are not shared among family members. It’s kept quiet, which only increases the probability that someone else in the family will become diabetic, primarily because of the silence and the poor eating habits being passed down to each new generation.
Design your own support team of family members, relatives, church members, friends, and others.
Be wary of those who may become jealous once you start to feel and look healthy. Reach out to help them but if they don’t want to be helped, don’t allow them to drag you down. You must let them go until they are ready.
Volunteer: Join a community or church group of some kind to help others in your local community. Become a community advocate. This will take your mind off the disease and bring hope to others.
Psychological Support: Many diabetics become depressed when they are initially diagnosed or after they've been fighting the disease for several years. Some diabetics feel so bad they cannot sleep or eat. In these cases, therapy or counseling may help. But, do your homework first! -- a lot of psychiatrists tend to be more "pill-pushers" than problem-solvers.
Note: Some people are afraid to admit they need help -- although in most cases, the answers lie inside of us. Some people believe that others will think they are crazy if they talk to a professional about their problems. But it’s smart to get help when you need it, especially if you have the symptoms of depression, e.g. poor sleep, changes in appetite, crying, sad thoughts, self-pity.
But, please keep in mind that the key purpose of a true counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist is to pull out the answers that lie within you -- not to convince you that your answer lies within a drug!
Get Support and Give Support
After you get support to improve your diabetes and your overall health, then, it is your responsibility to pay it forward or give back to others who are suffering with this disease. If you don't feel comfortable with helping other people with their diabetes, then, figure out another way to help. It doesn't have to be helping people with diabetes.
For example, if you're a financial planner or accountant, maybe you help people with their finances or maybe you help your church with its finances or mortgage planning. Or, maybe you're a mother who raised 4 children and sent them off to college, you could help a local mothers group with ways to help them with their children.
FYI: Giving back to help others will give you a feeling of joy and reduce the stress in your life. Refer to the Stress Reduction web page for a list of additional benefits.
Author Sidebar: I remember when I was diabetic, so many people helped me -- from the community, the churches, from local support groups. These people were total strangers, yet, they were willing to help me.
So, after I had benefited from the unselfishness of other diabetics, I felt that I should do the same and help other diabetics with what I had learned and also what I had been told by others before me.
There are thousands of us who have figured out how to improve our diabetes because of what we learned and because of the help and support that we given from others. So, if each of us who has benefited from this kind of support and generosity would pay it forward, we could eliminate or at least significantly reduce the unnecessary suffering that diabetics experience with this disease.
Here are a few passages from the Bible that talk about helping others or being a servant:
“And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” | Acts 20:35
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men], especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” | Galatians 6:10
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” | 1 Peter 4:10
“The greatest among you will be your servant.” | Matthew 23:11
We were all put on this planet to help and serve others. And, by doing so, we can reduce a lot of the unnecessary suffering that goes on every day.
If you make a difference in someone’s life, I guarantee you that the experience will uplift you in ways that you could never imagine.
Adversity and Diabetes
How you handle adversity such as being diabetic is very challenging. One of the things to do during your self-evaluation is to figure out how you respond to things like adversity, stress, setbacks, family problems, work problems, etc.
Are You a Carrot, an Egg, or a Coffee Bean?
Here is an interesting story that may give you some insight into what type of person you are when faced with adversity and other challenges in your life such as disease like diabetes.
The story goes like this:
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans.
She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minute she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee into a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.
She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.
The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, mother?”
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity… boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after being through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” she asked the daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”
Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after death, a break up, a financial hardship, or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity?
So, are you a carrot, an egg or coffee bean?
For more information about emotional support, mental health, social health, motivation and spirituality, read Chapter 13 of the Death to Diabetes book, or get one or more of the DTD ebooks about motivation/will power, stress reduction, and depression.
Note: For more detailed information about God, healing and the food connection, refer to the God, Food & Healing Connection web page.
Note: If you're interested in some inspirational quotes from celebrities or from the Bible, go to our Inspirational Quotes web page. Also, take a look at our Famous People with Diabetes web page to see that any famous people get this disease.
Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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