If you have diabetes, you may have experienced some kind of guilt along with it—especially if you’ve been diagnosed with type 2, as it carries a heavy stigma in society. You might beat yourself up for all the things you “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve” done to prevent it. And regardless of which type of diabetes you have, you may feel guilty when eating something you feel you shouldn’t or when your numbers aren’t in the desired range.
Guilt can be a good thing at times—it means owning up to the fact that you made a mistake, which can drive you toward change. But excessive guilt is unhealthy and can even be a destructive force. Studies have shown that “diabetes distress” can negatively impact the management of your condition and can even lead to isolation, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts.
If you have ever suffered from diabetes guilt, or if you currently do, you are not alone. Here are four ways you can fight back.
4. Get Diabetes Savvy
Type 2 diabetes is often associated in people’s minds with poor lifestyle choices. But when you look at the facts, you realize that lifestyle doesn’t form the whole story behind type 2 development. It is also tied to your family history, race, and age—all of which are outside of your control. People at an average weight can develop type 2. People who are overweight and obese can go their whole lives without ever having it. By getting better informed about your type 2 diabetes, you’ll begin to realize that, while it’s technically preventable, it’s also a complicated condition. This can help ease your guilt and self-blame.
3. Find a Support Group
Guilt often entails the feeling that you’re the only one who can’t get their act together—that everyone else is managing their diabetes better than you. In reality, however, you are far from alone, and joining a support group of some kind can help you realize that. Support groups are comprised of people who are in the same situation as you, so getting involved in one can encourage you, make you feel less alone, and help sort out your emotions.
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2. Don’t Sweat the Numbers
It’s okay if today’s blood sugar reading is out of whack. Sometimes you could be doing everything right, but your blood sugar levels will still be less than ideal. What matters more than individual readings is the overall pattern. If the overall pattern is out of sorts, definitely talk to your doctor, but for the periodic high or low? Focus on the fact that you’re doing your best and move on.
1. Focus on Your Good Qualities
Whether you have type 1 or type 2, your diabetes does not define you. So remind yourself of the things that do—in other words, all of your fantastic qualities that make you the awesome person you are! That could be your ability to crunch numbers like a human calculator, your fantastic sense of humor, your caring heart, your commitment to integrity, your dedication to your family and friends, or your talent with a paintbrush. Come up with at least 10 of these things and write them down. Then post that list somewhere you’ll be able to see it, like your bathroom mirror. Read it daily as a reminder that you are not your diabetes.