Communication and Diabetes (with examples)
When it comes to diabetes, learning how to communicate effectively to friends, family, loved ones, and coworkers is an underrated super power.
I spent years hiding my diabetes because it felt like such a burden to put on other people. Being a people pleaser, I thought people didn't want to hear about it or help me. Complaining in my eyes was a no-no.
How would anyone like me if I made them carry the weight of diabetes with me?
But little did I realize that my method of keeping everything in was actually backfiring.
In this blog, I'm going to go through ways that communication HELPED me strengthen relationships and take better care of my diabetes, and how i actually go about doing it (including examples of things I would say)!
How communication helped my relationships and Diabetes management:
It kept things top of mind (for me and others)
The plant that you water will grow more than one that you don't. In other words, what you pay attention and give care to will flourish. When I hid diabetes from people around me, I was also kinda hiding it from myself. I wouldn't give it enough thought, attention, or time to actually effectively manage it. Diabetes takes work. And when I wasn't focusing on it, it wasn't thriving. By communicating more about it, it also kept diabetes at top of mind so I could give it the attention that it needs.
Talking openly about my diabetes helped others realize how big of a part it plays in my life. If I only brought it up in a blue moon, the people in my life probably wouldn't realize what an effect it has on my day-to-day. By letting people in, they understand why I may need to take a pause or sit something out or why I'm being moody-- and now they even ask me about it proactively! ("Is your blood sugar okay if we go on this walk?" 'I brought a low snack for you!" etc.) How cool is that!
Communication helped people help me
The important people in your life want to support you. (I always say Diabetes is a great way to weed out people who shouldn't be in your life.) But they won't know how to support you unless you tell them!
Accepting help can be hard, especially if it's not the help you need. If someone isn't living with this condition, how would they know what YOU need? Not to mention, everyone is different-- you may like to go for a walk when you're blood sugar is high but I may just want to take a nap.
The first step in this was becoming aware of what I actually needed. Then communicating that to others around me.
Doing this had so many benefits:
it makes others feel good about actually being able to help me
it makes our relationship stronger because they know how to support me (and in return, they feel more open about asking me for support in things they are going through)
it gives me the help I actually need!
How did i actually do it? What do I actually say?
If you're like me and spent 20 years hiding you diabetes (or even if you were just diagnosed), talking about this stuff is uncomfortable. I spent so long pushing it deep, that it came up with a lot of other baggage. Here's how I navigated it (and some tips I wish I would have done):
Put yourself in your friend's/partner's/family's shoes. Wouldn't you want to know how to support them if they were going through something similar?
Have resources to give them about your condition (especially if you're telling them for the first time). I think this is most effective if it's written by you (include this is what it means/what it feels like/what I need when I'm high/low etc
Let your support squad know you'll be communicating more, and what your goal is. They want to help you!
Example: Hey! I'm trying to take better care of my diabetes and I would love your help. I may start talking about it more than I used to. Is that okay? (If someone answered "no" to this, I would drop them lol)
Give them actual numbers! Show them a dexcom clarity graph and say "This is my current time in range and I'm trying to get 75% this week!" Let them understand your goal so they can support/cheer you on and celebrate when you get there!
Saying your goals OUTLOUD to people also helps YOU stay the course! Manifesting baby!
Communicate what is happening/ how you're feeling/ and what you need.
Example 1: I have a high blood sugar and I have a raging headache. Can you give me an hour alone to recover?
Example 2: I have a low blood sugar and I feel really out of it. Can we sit down and can you get me a juicebox?
Example 3: My blood sugars have been crazy today and I am exhausted. Do you mind if we just watch a movie tonight instead of going out?
Example 4: My insurance is making me pay extra for my dexcom this month, and I feel really frustrated about it. Can I vent to you for 10 minutes?
Example 5: I'm in a bad headspace about my diabetes right now, and it's making me anxious. Can you check in on me a few today so I feel supported?
Communication is going to look differently for everyone, but a principle that applies to everyone is the more you do it, the better you'll get.