How can I help my family understand my feelings about my diabetes?

Betty Long, RN, MHA
Nursing Specialist

First of all, having a chronic disease like diabetes can be very challenging for you in many ways, but with proper management, you can fullly expect to live a full life. 

While I would be the last person to discount any feelings you may be having, I do think it's really important to fully understand your disease before you reach out to your family to express your feelings. Alot of the patients with whom we work express feelings that are based on misunderstandings about their  diabetes. So while their feelings are real, they are not based on fact. For instance, a young 40-ish father of two was newly diagnosed with diabetes and immediately assumed that he was going to "go on needles." He was deathly afraid of needles and figured that if he wasn't going to be able to "take the needle," he would die. Imagine him trying to talk with his wife and kids about that when it was not true!

He had listened to "one of the guys at work" who told him a horror story about his uncle but it was not at all a similar case. Our patient had not yet even started on oral medications and had already had himself dead leaving a widow and 2 children.

Understand fully what you are dealing with, know what diabetes is, how it's treated, what you can do to manage it, talk with your doctor to answer any questions or discount any rumors. Then, when you feel like you've got a handle on your disease, start to express your feelings openly. In addition to providing a wonderful opportunity for intimacy and support, it could also be a great opportunity for teaching them about diabetes and answering or dispelling their fears!

Any health issue elicits feelings. We're human, after all. But know the facts so you don't work yourself into an unnecessary tizzy! You've got enought to worry about.

If you have diabetes, you know that it can take an emotional toll. But you’re not the only one who may feel the stress. Your family members and your partner are likely to share the burden.

Learn to talk about your feelings about your diabetes and try to establish open channels of communication. Recognize that your family members will also have feelings about your illness. Your family may express their concern for you by frequently asking about your diabetes or trying to pretend it doesn’t exist. If this becomes a problem, let your family know how they can express their concern in a way that feels supportive to you.

Learn to work with your family members to talk about how you and they are feeling and what to do about it. Maybe you just need a snack or maybe you need to go for a walk. Or maybe your spouse or children need a break. Recognize when there is a problem and talk about solutions.

By sharing your feelings and communicating openly, you and your family or partner may be drawn closer together rather than driven apart.

You may need help learning to communicate. Admitting this is a sign of strength, not a weakness. Confide in your friends. Speak with your spiritual counselor. Consider seeking the help of professional counselors who are trained in coping strategies for people with chronic disease. Your healthcare provider may be able to help you find the skilled professional with whom you need to talk.

And finally, don’t forget to lighten up. Humor can help you get through stressful times. Laughter helps lighten the load; relaxing is in the process.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.