Written by Doris Donnerman (last updated August 23, 2013)
Living with any chronic condition can be taxing both physically and emotionally. Often it can be difficult to be open about it, yet trying to hide or wish away your illness may be equally hard. To enjoy a full life with diabetes, it's important to live a healthy lifestyle and be open with those around you.
Many people with diabetes are able to do most of what any other person can. With a healthy lifestyle you can significantly improve your quality of life while also having a positive effect on your diabetes. It is most important to work with your doctor in establishing and following a treatment routine; without properly treating your diabetes, it is likely to only get worse and feel like a roadblock to enjoying life. In addition to adequate treatment, anything you can do to keep your body in shape will be beneficial to both your physical and emotional health. Exercise often and regularly, eat properly at regular intervals and the same time every day, cut out tobacco and alcohol, and get an adequate amount of sleep each night. Doing things that will make your body feel good will help you feel healthier and improve your perception of yourself.
You may feel as if having diabetes means there's something wrong with you on a personal level. While there may be something abnormal about your body, equating that with a personal flaw is an unnecessary burden that can make your illness feel much greater than it is. Often, when people feel that there is something wrong with them, their reaction is to try to hide it, generally creating feelings of guilt and shame in addition to whatever difficulties they may already be dealing with. While you may not like the idea of sharing your condition and sticking out as someone who's broken, think about others you know with diabetes or other health problems and what you thought about them when you found out. Most of us are harder on ourselves than others are, and getting past the hesitation about telling people about your condition can actually open doors to more supportive relationships and lower anxiety.
With most chronic conditions, there is a considerable amount of stress over what will happen in the case of an emergency. While it may feel more comfortable to avoid telling anyone about your diabetes, it may also create more anxiety about what will happen if you need emergency medical help. Being aware that those around you know how to help you if necessary can relieve much of this anxiety. Sharing something personal in a way appropriate to the context of the relationship can also create a more supportive relationship, and having a strong support network is another key factor in lower health-related anxiety.
Your life need not be empty and unfulfilling because you have diabetes. By living a healthy lifestyle and being open with others about your diabetes, you can enjoy a rich, full life and positive relationships.
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