The Benefits of a Relationship with Your T1D

­­Relationship: The way two or more entities behave toward one another.

Whether you know it or not, you have a relationship with diabetes.

This relationship started the day you were diagnosed and will continue for as long as you are living with diabetes.

What does it mean to have a relationship with diabetes?

Having a relationship with diabetes means you and diabetes interact with one another. There are an infinite number of ways this can happen. For example, you eat a cookie, and diabetes responds by spiking your blood sugar. Your blood sugar won’t come down, so you take more insulin. When it still won’t come down, you get angry at diabetes. You think diabetes makes you different from other people, so you ignore it. You are interacting with diabetes on a daily basis and in ways that go far beyond daily management tasks, like checking your blood sugar and taking insulin. We can’t talk about this relationship without acknowledging the emotional component.

Meet Melissa

When Melissa was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago, she was thriving in her sophomore year of college. She played the trumpet in the marching band, was involved in theater, and had an active social life. It all changed that day in March when Melissa went to the student health center and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She felt that having diabetes in her life made her a different person. Diabetes made her feel defective and too fragile to continue with band or theater.

Melissa started to resent diabetes and how it made her feel. She described it as a ‘bad ex-boyfriend who just won’t go away.’ Diabetes made her feel inadequate and helpless, which made her even more resentful. Dealing with diabetes was getting to be too much to handle. She started pretending like it wasn’t there and hid it from her friends, wishing it would just leave her alone.

Recently, Melissa’s mom told her, ‘you have really let diabetes take over your life.’ After this conversation, Melissa realized she has a relationship with diabetes, and this relationship is not working for her.

The power of a relationship with diabetes

Living with diabetes does not just happen to you. You play an active role in this relationship, and this puts you in the driver’s seat. You get to decide how you manage your blood sugar and how you respond to the emotional challenges that diabetes throws your way. Once you recognize that you have a relationship with diabetes, you can see diabetes doesn’t get to control you, and there are things about the relationship you have the power to change.

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