Imagine This Scenario….
You’re at your diabetes check-up.
In front of your medical team, your family member, who you brought for “support,” is berating you for not monitoring your blood sugars enough.
The room gets quiet and all eyes are on you.
“Technically,” your family member is right. You’re taking four insulin shots a day. Considering safety and best practice, checking blood sugars four times a day is ideal and important. But you’re only checking once a day.
However, as you can see in this scenario, being right and being supportive are two very different things.
Your family member only sees what’s missing, and she can’t seem to redirect her focus to anything else, even to acknowledge how well you’re doing with taking your insulin shots.
And you’re doing really well taking your insulin.
In fact, you rarely miss a dose.
She also doesn’t notice your notepad tucked beside your meter with months of daily blood sugars written in it. She doesn’t see those levels have improved significantly over the past 1-2 months.
As you sit there, while she repeatedly tells you and your medical team that you don’t care about yourself and you just “don’t know what you’re doing,” you feel the tears. Your heart races as you wait for the medical team to give you the same lecture. You feel overwhelmed, embarrassed, and like an absolute failure.
I hope you’ve never been in a scenario this extreme, but perhaps pieces of it ring true.
Maybe you’ve struggled doing all of the pieces of diabetes care you know need to happen.
Perhaps you’ve felt like a failure managing your diabetes.
Maybe your medical team or family and friends have treated you like the family member did in this scenario.
If so….and I was your Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)….this is what I would tell you (after I gave you a hug and helped you dry your tears, of course!):
1. Be willing to give yourself just as much credit for what you’re doing well as you are for the things you struggle with.
I see way too many folks give attention and energy to what’s not working. Doing this can eat away at your confidence and momentum. It can make you feel, similar to this scenario, like a failure. But instead, if you shift your focus to what is working well, you’ll gain confidence in your ability to manage diabetes. You’ll be more likely to continue doing those healthy pieces. And you’ll be more likely to overcome the parts where you struggle.
2. If you aren’t able to do all pieces of your diabetes self-care (for whatever reason), prioritize them.
Diabetes management is full of multiple daily tasks which often feel equally important to each other. But, the reality is, some actions have a greater impact on the blood sugars than others (and your end goal is having healthy blood sugars). Typically, taking your medication consistently is one of the most powerful things you can do to manage blood sugars. Followed by your eating patterns, exercise, stress management, and so on. Making sure to prioritize your diabetes management tasks based on blood sugar impact will get you closer to your goal of well-managed diabetes.
3. It’s okay to draw boundaries between yourself and others.
Support from loved ones can be tricky. Often, they’re coming from a place of love and concern, even if their delivery is all wrong. And, perhaps you allow them to dig into you (or you get defensive) because deep down you know their concern has a ring of truth to it. In this scenario, not checking blood sugars frequently with insulin dosing is a safety issue. But, a family member being “right” does not equate to being “supportive.” And support shouldn’t be rude, embarrassing, or harassing. It’s okay to draw a boundary and ask for help in a different way, or find new support systems altogether.
No one’s perfect and everyone struggles to juggle their diabetes care from time to time.
If you’re in a funk, build your self-care routines on what you do well, prioritize what self-care you do based on blood sugar impact, and set boundaries. You got this!