Humans are social. We require some sort of interaction with others. When you live with diabetes, social support can positively impact your health outcomes.
A paper in the NCBI Journal looked at a variety of studies that showed that there was a positive relationship between social support and self-care behavior. They also found that support from your spouse can improve blood sugar levels and your A1c.
What are social supports
There are a number of different types of supports for your diabetes care.
Behavioral supports are the supports that help with your daily care. This can be your diabetes team who answers your day to day questions or your spouse that reminds to you change your infusion site.
Educational supports are also important. Again, education on your diabetes will begin with your diabetes team. Over time, you will most likely also turn to books and other online resources to further help you to educate yourself and learn the best practices for managing your diabetes.
Psychological support is also vital in your diabetes care. Many people do not put enough emphasis on their psychological well-being. ASweetLife.org reminds us that diabetes never lets you rest. “It can make you feel like a failure. It tasks you with doing the impossible.” For some people, it can make them feel embarrassed, ashamed, and/or frustrated.
If you are struggling with a lack of psychological support, reach out to your diabetes care team or contact any of the resources we have listed who deal specifically with people with diabetes.
What to do when social supports are not supportive?
Supportive partners and diabetes teams are proven in study after study to reduce levels of depression and improve fasting glucose levels. Unfortunately, not all social supports are always supportive. People with diabetes may be subject to the food police or well-meaning family or friends who constantly ask if you bolused or check your blood sugar levels.
While they may mean well, it is important for you to be able to tell them when it is becoming too much. Let them know that you appreciate their support but you don’t need them to be your physician, just your friend. Keep the lines of communication open and honest.
Where else to find social supports?
Ideally, you have a good relationship with your diabetes clinic. Most clinics have a phone number that you can use to contact them at any time with questions concerning your care.
If you live with a family member or partner, share with them your concerns and details of your treatment. Learning together can be a great support and give you someone else to bounce care concerns off of. They can some times be a great help with carb counting, glucose scanning at night, or a site that needs to be changed to an awkward spot.
Read how loved ones can help you to have a diabetes meltdown day!
Social support for your diabetes care can also be found in online or local support groups. There are also camps for children, adults, and families. Talking to other people who live with diabetes and get your concerns is invaluable.
The importance of communication
Let me repeat…It is important to share your concerns with your diabetes team and your other social supports. There are times when you will be tired and overwhelmed. That is completely natural and why it is vital to have people around you who can provide you with support.
If you continue to struggle to the point that you are feeling too overwhelmed to properly manage your diabetes care, reach out to a professional. You can do this through your clinic, through a telemedicine service, or by reaching out to some of the clinicians we have listed on our resources page. No matter what, you should NEVER struggle alone.
Talking and sharing will helps us grow and learn. Someone may have experienced the same thing as you and be able to offer a new perspective. A professional may offer you coping tools that you had not previously tried. You do not need to navigate this journey on your own.