How Your Relationships With Others Affect Control of Your Diabetes
By Doug Burns
My TCOYD Newsletter, Volume 32

How important are your friendships with regard to living above the confines of diabetes? Surprisingly, they are more important than many of us realize. Friends give meaning to our lives and are a main reason we strive to succeed in our pursuits.

We are built with a need to develop and interact with other people. Friendship fulfills a key component in life—acceptance. From our beginning to present, we pursue acceptance from others and ourselves more than anything else in life. Many of the kids I’ve spoken with in juvenile halls said they joined gangs for that very reason—they wanted to be accepted somewhere.

Lack of friendships can be crushing. It implies rejection. Rejection kills our spirit and leads to low self-esteem, low self worth and isolation. It contributes to and heightens depression as well. What does this have to do with diabetes? Controlling a disease that requires daily attention becomes even more chaotic and, therefore, loses its importance. Friendship and acceptance are as vital as the foods we eat.

Diabetes is like other obstacles we meet in life. It takes a healthy perspective to persevere, treat and overcome them. People with friends, whether they are family or others, are more apt to control their diabetes. Friends provide us with accountability and a reason to live better. The thought of my kids and my friends implores me to treat this disease better—to forget the mistakes and push forward. The thought of other athletes with diabetes does the same thing. We have a solution for others and ourselves.

Diabetes creates various obstacles that all of us must address. By helping someone else it lessens the power these obstacles have. It’s virtually impossible to help someone else when we are focused solely on our own problems and/or circumstances. Finding friends means being friendly and friendship requires us to put others first.

People from our past, our work, our experiences, places we frequent and, of course, social networks all offer chances to help and befriend each other. Friends we text and connect with online create an ever growing opportunity to meet and keep up with people throughout the world. Friendships hold us accountable and provide needed feedback for both sides.

Most of us have a list of friends, but if you’re searching, remember to find friends, reach out and be friendly. Those of us with diabetes and other obstacles have a common bond. Become creative. I thought that Dr. Edelman had too many friends. Though it was difficult in the beginning, I siphoned many of my new friends from his surplus and we are all better for it!

Friends have supported me through dire situations and their help is always before me. The next time our friend or physician tells us we need to lose weight, start testing more, start exercising or check our sugar right now, remember the proverb: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.