As hard as many of us may try, we can’t do much to change the reality of what diabetes is as a medical condition. What we can change however is how we communicate about, understand and interact with diabetes. We can’t make diabetes go away, but I firmly believe that we can change our relationship with it and make the diabetes journey a little bit less rocky, for both ourselves and others. Let’s take a minute and look at what we can change about diabetes and what impact these changes could have on the diabetes community as a whole.
Misinformation: Misinformation and lack of understanding about diabetes can have a significant impact on the quality of life of people with diabetes. From believing that (name your herb) can cure type 2 diabetes, to thinking that people with diabetes can never eat any type of sugar, bad information about diabetes is all around us, sometimes causing stress and confusion for people working hard to manage their diabetes. We can work to change this by using factual, evidence-based information to educate our family, friends and even our healthcare providers (who are not always keenly aware of diabetes treatments) about diabetes. The more informed folks are, the easier it is to understand the challenges faced by people with diabetes, and the better equipped they will be to offer their support.
Awareness of mental health issues: Not many people understand how mental health issues affect the quality of life of people with diabetes. We need to work hard to help everyone in the diabetes community, especially health care providers, to see mental health issues as a critical piece of the diabetes treatment puzzle. If health care providers as a group start helping people overcome the behavioral and emotional barriers to diabetes care, it will be a big step in the right direction. Take a step in making this change! Talk to your healthcare team about the challenges that you are having and encourage them to learn more about what they can do to help you manage them. Increasing awareness of the intersection of mental health issues and diabetes will lead to change and help everyone with diabetes.
Lack of support: There are lots of resources to support people with diabetes, both online and in communities around the world. While these support resources are very active, there are lots of people who could really benefit from peer support, but don’t know about them. We can work to change this. Reach out to people with diabetes in your area to let them know about these resources and invite them to use them. Tell your story about how this support has helped you in your diabetes journey. Every person with diabetes who wants support should be able to get it, but in order to get this support, they need to know where it is. We can work to make sure they do.
Diabetes can seem overwhelming sometimes, but there are things we can all do today to make the diabetes world a better place. What can you do today to help make that change?