This was originally posted to my blog, Diabetes Odyssey.
Shame, guilt, and feelings of failure are common among diabetics. The constant fight to control blood sugar and stay healthy is a daunting task. Honestly, for most of us, it is downright impossible. And since it’s our body, our health, our blood sugar, then the highs and lows must be all our fault, right?
This is how I felt all of my early diabetic life. “I’m a failure.” “I’m the worst diabetic in the history of ever.” “It’s all my fault.”
But I was wrong…mostly.
The first step to learning to stop blaming yourself so much is to get educated about diabetes and how it works and how to control it.
Understanding diabetes is key to being healthy and maintaining as normal as possible (for a diabetic) blood sugars. There is a lot of knowledge to learn about diabetes, but when it comes to living it, it takes a lot of vigilance, self-study, and constant adjustments. Diabetes is different in everyone, one thing that raises your BG, like, say, exercise or caffeine, might lower another diabetics BG. So studying yourself and being aware and making adjustments to your own lifestyle and management regime is a must!
Check your blood sugar, a lot! Use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Keep records of your eating habits, exercise and activities, and even your sleep patterns play a role! Be aware of things like mental exertion and stress, and even your menstrual cycle, because they have an effect on BG as well!
By keeping track of all these things (and more) you can learn how and why your blood sugar seems to just randomly change, and you can better predict these rises and falls and cut them off before they happen, or at least keep them from being so drastic.
Blamers Gonna Blame
Growing up there were a lot of people who blamed me for my poor control. Most of them didn’t mean to be hurtful, they were just trying to help and give me a ‘wake up call’. But all it did was make me feel bad, angry, depressed, and like the worst person on earth. In fact, it all just made me shut down and not even try. I ran away from my diabetes instead of trying to control it.
No matter where it is coming from, family, doctors, friends, just don’t take it to heart so much. Most of the time people (even many doctors) just don’t understand or realize how difficult diabetes is. It’s not just a matter of checking BG and eating right, God damn it! It’s so much more.
Doctors will push you to be as perfect as possible, but this doesn’t mean they don’t feel for you or understand that you are not, and can not be, perfect. Remember, it’s their job to help you be as healthy as possible, so it’s their job to point out your issues.
Your family and friends love you and care about your health so if they are blaming you (even without realizing it’s hurtful) it’s just because they probably don’t understand your struggle, and probably don’t understand diabetes. Give em a break, and maybe try to get them to learn about diabetes, and explain to them how hard it is and that the occasional high or low is to be expected.
Nothing Compares To You
Growing up I was surrounded by type 1 diabetics, so comparing was a fact of life. It just so happened that I was the “bad” one while everyone else seemed to be so perfectly controlled.
Remember when I said diabetes is different in everyone? This is why you can not, and should not, ever, ever, EVER, compare yourself to any other diabetic. We are all different, we all have different needs, different struggles. You will only break your own heart if you play the comparison game.
Remember, It IS All About You
I used to avoid checking my blood sugar because I didn’t want to see what I already knew, an outrageously high number. I wanted to avoid seeing my failure. That number was nothing but a glaring guilt trip bomb of truth. I’m a terrible diabetic.
It’s really easy to feel guilty and like a failure. And part of this comes from the fact that it is all in our hands. You and only you can control your diabetes.
Truth bomb, yo.
There are a lot of reasons why you shouldn’t blame yourself…so much. But a lot of the blame does sit on your shoulders because it is your job to try. It is your job to do the best you can. So if you are not trying, then yes, it is your fault and you should feel guilty and like a failure. Then get over it and start trying!
It’s tough, it’s hard, it’s difficult. There is absolutely no way on earth you can be under perfect control all the time. Highs and lows will happen now and then (just don’t slack on trying), don’t feel guilty about it.
As long as you are trying and don’t give up, you are doing it right.