Please enjoy the entire article published in The Diabetes Council Blog, July 11, 2017,
that includes this advice from Dr. Jackie PLUS 22 other experts.
When someone is diagnosed with diabetes, it is like having your whole world turned upside down. Every aspect of your life is affected, and will be affected forever. Having someone tell you that you have diabetes often evokes strong feelings. It is common to feel shock, numbness and disbelief that give way to anxiety, anger, depression and sadness It is a BIG deal. It takes time to fully take in the impact of what it means to have a chronic illness. It takes time to figure out how to address all the areas of your life that you suddenly have to be aware of and focus on. We can talk about it as “lifestyle changes”; but the reality is that folks diagnosed with diabetes have to consistently monitor their blood sugar, manage their stress, make sure they get enough exercise, sleep enough, and make huge changes in their diets and often moderate or stop eating favorite things they have enjoyed for years.
And let’s not forget the medical side of things; and oh yes, let’s remember how important it is to have a positive attitude and manage stress. And as if all that is that is not enough, sometimes, having a chronic illness causes people to feel not only overwhelmed, but also isolated and alone. While it is true that support from others is central to coping with chronic illness, and while it very important to create that strong, external support system with family, friends, and professionals, the first step is for the person living with diabetes to create their strong, INTERNAL support system. No matter how much you love and care for someone, you can NOT help them or support them unless and until THEY are well along the way to creating their own INTERNAL support system and are ready to receive support from the outside. If they are still struggling to figure out how all the pieces of having diabetes fit together, and they haven’t quite yet started rolling along and being proactive on their own behalf, your well intentioned help or support will feel like being bullied, controlled, pressured, mistrusted, or worse.
Be patient. Be loving and kind when you see your loved one struggling, or really falling down on the job. Don’t let your worry and concern negatively impact them. They have enough to deal with.
It is your job to take care of your emotions. Recognize that you might be very well served to get some support for yourself from someone professionally trained in these matters.
Reach out to your loved one
Tell your loved one that you understand the enormity of their experience right now. Tell them that you are available to help them in what ever way would be helpful to them, and support them in whatever way would be supportive to them.
Tell them you are ready to step up whenever it feels like the right time to them.
Then take a step back and be patient. This is one of the most challenging and painful times for family members and friends of those living with chronic (and life-threatening) illness. You must learn to trust that your family member will figure it out – no matter how long it takes.
When your loved one is ready
When they are ready and asking for your help or support, always ask for specific behaviors that would be helpful and feel like really being supported.
Don’t assume that you know. The way you might be helped or supported may be very different from the way someone else needs and wants to be supported; and very different from what feels like help or support to someone else.
Tell them that if the way you are doing it doesn’t feel good, or isn’t working for them, that they should not hesitate to tell you. Your intention is to be helpful. Then go back to the drawing board together, and figure out a new way to offer your support.
Don’t underestimate the value of offering empathy! If you want a short reminder about how powerful empathy is, take 3 minutes and watch Brené Brown’s video on Empathy. Remember, this is a journey of unknowns. Your patience and curiosity are your new best friends.
Remember, only YOU can make it happen!
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Enjoy my FREE Guide, 3 Deadly Love-Traps Couples Face Living With Illness