Setting Healthy Boundaries with T1D

Apr 11, 2022

Repeat after me. You are not your diabetes!

I think we can all agree this is true in theory. There is so much more to you than your diabetes.

T1D is something you live with, but it does not have to define who you are.

However, for this statement to be your reality, you need to have healthy boundaries with T1D. But as I’m sure you know - this isn’t always easy because sometimes the boundaries between you and T1D aren’t clearly defined.

Don’t know how to set boundaries with T1D? Let’s work together to change that!

What’s a boundary?

A boundary is where one thing ends and another begins. Boundaries are essential in any relationship, including your relationship with T1D. Setting boundaries with T1D helps you see yourself as separate from it and see you – not T1D – are in control of your behavior.  Healthy boundaries keep you from getting consumed and overwhelmed by the constant demands of T1D.

The problem is, not all boundaries with T1D are healthy…

What are unhealthy boundaries with T1D?

Boundaries with T1D are unhealthy when they go toward the extremes.

On one end of the spectrum, there are rigid boundaries. Boundaries that are too rigid separate you from T1D, making it harder to take care of yourself and get support.

People who have rigid boundaries with T1D:

  • Don’t acknowledge they have T1D
  • Hide T1D from people in their life
  • Go to great lengths to ignore T1D, including not taking care of themselves

On the other end of the spectrum are loose boundaries. If you have loose boundaries, T1D takes over your life. It controls everything you do and can make you feel overwhelmed and burned out.

People who have loose boundaries with T1D:

  • Spend significant time thinking about T1D
  • Pay constant attention to their CGM, at the expense of other (non-T1D) priorities in their life
  • Get consumed and burned out with T1D easily
  • Beat themselves up when their blood sugars are out of range

What are healthy boundaries with T1D?

Healthy boundaries with T1D are flexible. When you have healthy boundaries, you manage T1D, but you don’t let it consume you. Put another way, you let T1D in your house, but you make sure it stays in the guest room, so you have time to yourself.

People who have flexible boundaries with T1D:

  • Find ways to manage both their diabetes and stress.
  • Are ok when things don’t go perfectly
  • Recognize T1D is stressful, but don’t let the stress get in the way of living their life

Setting healthy boundaries with T1D

Setting healthy boundaries with T1D is a skill you have to learn and practice. It doesn’t just happen. Setting healthy boundaries takes hard work and making difficult choices.

Here are three tips to help you set healthy boundaries between yourself and T1D:

Recognize your needs: Setting boundaries with T1D can be a balance between managing your blood sugar and your quality of life. There may be times when one is more important for you than the other, and that’s ok. Making an intentional choice about what you focus on at any given time, based on your needs, is a way to set healthy boundaries.

Take responsibility: When you set healthy boundaries, you take responsibility for working to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. You recognize this responsibility belongs to no one except you.

Follow-through: Setting healthy boundaries is not a one-time thing. Instead, it’s something you have to do consistently for it to work. Once you figure out what you need to do, commit to sticking with it, even when maintaining healthy boundaries is tough.

When you set healthy boundaries and maintain them, I promise you’ll start to see the benefits – with how you relate to T1D and in your life.

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