Dealing with Diabetes Diagnosis: Enriching the Diabetic Soul

Dr. Jen Nash, a clinical psychologist specializing in diabetes and obesity, is the author of Diabetes and Wellbeing: Managing the Psychological and Emotional Challenges of Diabetes Types 1 and 2.In addition to her fabulous book, Dr. Nash is a Board Member of the National Obesity Forum, a Trustee of the UK charity, ‘Diabetics With Eating Disorders’ and a member of the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Diabetes Nursing and the British Journal of Obesity. Dr. Nash was named an ‘Outstanding Educator’ Finalist in the Quality in Care Awards 2014 and was awarded the honour of a 'World Diabetes Day Hero' in 2012 by the International Diabetes Federation.

Dr. Nash, a diabetic herself, discusses how getting diagnosed is always a “process, not an event.” Most diagnoses are of Type 2 diabetes and usually occurs later in one’s life. Nash insists that no matter how much time passes since finding out, we deal with the trauma of diagnosis on a continuous basis.

CuraLife was formed by diabetics for diabetics, thus we understand the full extent of the psychological impact associated with diagnosis, and we wanted to share with you Dr. Nash's advice on how to counter the negative aspects of this process. Let's look together at some of the challenges when being diagnosed, and the best ways to cope:

The Bad:

Shock: Dr. Nash stresses that when you first found out about your illness, “your head was probably spinning as a result. You may have felt dazed and disorientated. It is likely you wanted to withdraw and felt anxious for the first few minutes after being told the news.” Medical professionals are here to help with this particular stage more than anyone else. Let your experts inform you on just how versatile both diagnosing and treating diabetes is. Many experts stress that getting informed is the best way to calm your nerves, the more you know, the more in control you will feel.

Guilt: Sometimes people feel like they did something wrong when they are diagnosed. In terms of dealing with this feeling, it sometimes means looking at why you truly feel at blame. Nash explains, “self-forgiveness involves recognizing your own imperfections and accepting yourself, including your shortcomings.” In order to achieve this, it's important to be in touch with yourself, to come to terms with the real reasons you feel at fault.

Shame: Experts agree that in the process of being diagnosed there is a lot of needless shame being experienced. Whether telling others about your illness, or the experience of treatment itself, there will be opportunities to feel embarrassed about your condition. We at CuraLife want to make it clear that this is completely common, but a problem that needs to be solved. The sooner you get over misconceptions about your illness the better chance you have of confronting it with all your might.

The Good:

Starting anew: Many people take the opportunity to use the diagnosis as a fresh start. Although it's never good news, treating diabetes means more exercise, nutritionally rich diets, and what could be a new perspective on life. Nash explains, “previously familiar parts of life are now unknown and need renegotiating. Events such as travelling abroad, encountering a new challenge or getting a stomach infection suddenly demanded ‘a new way of thinking’.

Being Body-Brained: Educating yourself is key to beating diagnostic blues, words can’t explain how important this is. One thing that occurs with being diagnosed is a newfound awareness of your body and its relationship to the way you live and feel. In order to keep this new awareness from causing more anxiety and sadness, celebrate this new found knowledge of how to improve the way you feel.

Help is Everywhere: Even if talking or thinking about being diagnosed is difficult, most experts say that these are the cures for coping with the condition. Speak to as many trustworthy, informative, and helpful people as possible. This way you will feel informed and empowered enough to get rid of any guilt or shame when talking about the issue.

If you, or someone you know, was recently diagnosed with diabetes, be aware that this is a complicated and sometimes long emotional process. There are good ways to deal with these strong feelings. Two things are important to remember, you are never alone, and help and solutions are practically endless.

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