Coping with Type 2 Diabetes can be challenging when you're first diagnosed. Most people feel shocked and overwhelmed. You may be feeling shocked, overwhelmed, angry or scared.
I know that finding out that you have diabetes can turn your life upside down.
You are probably feeling shocked and maybe you are feeling overwhelmed. Are you feeling angry or scared? Maybe you are worried about the changes you might need to make. You might be wishing that your diabetes would go away. You may be thinking that the diagnosis was a mistake and that you don't have diabetes.
These feelings are completely normal! It’s natural and ok to feel these emotions. These are all common feelings. It’s important to acknowledge them and work through them.
Did you know that a diabetes diagnosis is something that you need to grieve?
Diabetes is a life-changing diagnosis. Like any other “negative” life-changing event, you will work through the stages of grief. These stages are the same as if you had lost a loved one or experienced another traumatic event. It’s important to take the time to grieve and work through the stages of grief. If you do, you will get to a point of acceptance and hope.
The stages of grief are not linear. You may move back and forth between stages. Maybe you might skip a stage. For some people, it takes a long time to work through the stages. You may even revisit a stage years after your initial diagnosis. This is normal!
The Five Stages of Grief
Let’s take a look at the stages of grief. As you read, think about how you felt when you were first found out you had diabetes. Compare that to where you are at now.
Stage One – Shock and Denial
When your doctor first told you that you have Type 2 diabetes, you felt shocked. You may have known in the back of your mind that you might someday get diagnosed with diabetes. Your parents or grandparents had diabetes, but you never thought it would happen to you. You may have thought “this can’t be true, the doctor must have made a mistake”. This can be a difficult stage, but it's important to work through it. Once you have worked through it, you can start with your diabetes management plan. So take some time to process your diagnosis and work through the shock and denial. I’m here to assure you that there is a life after your diagnosis and it can be a good life!
Stage Two – Anger, Guilt, Fear
After the initial shock, you may have felt anger, guilt or fear. Or you might have even felt a combination of all three. You may have asked “Why me? Why did I have to develop diabetes?”. You may felt guilty – that you brought diabetes on yourself by your eating habits or weight (You didn’t! Others can have the same weight and eating habits and they won’t develop diabetes). You may have felt anger that you need to be more careful with your food choices. As well, you are afraid of developing diabetes complications. Again, it's important to really work through these strong emotions so that you can move forward.
Stage Three – Bargaining
You might have bargained or pleaded with your higher power to make your diabetes go away. Or you might have thought that if I lose weight and exercise it will go away. Bargaining is a stage of grief that most people work through fairly quickly.
Stage Four – Depression
The next stage may be depression. In this stage, you are feeling overwhelmed with your diagnosis. You may be feeling isolated and lonely. It’s important to reach out to others who know what you are going through. Talk to a trusted friend, family member or a member of your diabetes team. You can also find a diabetes support group. Check out my Facebook group Women and Type 2 Diabetes.
Depression is more common in people with diabetes. It can impact both your ability to manage your diabetes and your enjoyment of life.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Changes in eating (either eating too much or a loss of appetite)
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble focusing and making decisions
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
If you think you are feeling depressed, it's important to seek help. Let your doctor or health care professional know how you are feeling.
Stage Five – Acceptance and Hope
Acceptance of diabetes usually occurs as you move through the previous stages. In this stage, you have accepted your new normal of life with diabetes. You are managing your diabetes with confidence. You are no longer feeling the strong emotions that you felt in the previous stages. You have a plan and you feel confident that you can manage your diabetes. Life is looking good again!
Ways of Coping with Type 2 Diabetes
When you find out you have diabetes, take the time to work through these stages of grief. Although these feelings are intense and overwhelming, they will pass!
Learning about your diabetes and how you can manage it to help you to feel more in control. Find support in friends, family, your health care practitioners or a support group. Coping with Type 2 Diabetes is a process, but it's important to work through and process your feelings.
How did you feel when you received your diabetes diagnosis? Do you see yourself at any of these stages? If you aren’t at the acceptance and hope stage, what can you do to move closer to that stage?