For my final blog post, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about overall health and solid diabetes management through the use of my favorite diabetes metaphor. As I see it, long term diabetes management is a 3 legged stool. We have three goals (or legs) that we need to keep in mind as we go about crushing it at life with diabetes.
The first goal is good physical health. This means blood sugars that are well controlled and a lifestyle that includes good food and regular exercise. Most of us are pretty well-acquainted with this one so I’ll keep going.
The second goal is emotional balance. This is that sweet spot between hyper-vigilance and complete denial of diabetes. Both are responses to moods being dictated by blood sugars. Hyper-vigilance (often condoned by well-meaning family and medical professionals) can result with spiraling down into depression and/or anxiety as the knowledge of imperfection screams at us from our meter or continuous glucose monitor (CGM). On the other side, we have the folks who can’t even stand to see these fluctuations, so they simply don’t look. The goal is to be somewhere in the middle!
The third goal is internal motivation. For solid diabetes management, we have to want to feel good because heaven knows, diabetes is a lot of work. Having accountability without internal motivation does not make for lasting change. If you talk with your Diabetes Educator (or pay for some fancy program) to keep you on track, most of us will fall right off the rails if that’s the only thing keeping us on said rails. We have to want to be on that track and lots of things can get in the way of that. “But why wouldn’t I want to be healthy?”, many people ask. As a therapist, one of the most common and definitely most compelling is that we don’t love ourselves. As I mentioned above, diabetes is a lot of work and really, if I don’t value myself, why would I go to all that trouble to take care of something I don’t love or feel is worthy of good care?
So we have our 3 legs/goals. We often sacrifice goals #2 and #3 for the sake of goal #1, and as I mentioned before, many of us are encouraged to do whatever it takes (including making ourselves miserable). Sadly, this kind of thing is regularly encouraged by many health care professionals because that idea that the body and mind are still separate. However, you are a whole person and things like psychosocial support matter! Leg #1 is definitely important, AND if we neglect the other legs, our stool will fall down. Internal motivation and emotional balance are key to long term success—both in terms of physical and psychological health. You’ve got this—and you have lots of great tools to support you with all 3 of those goals right here at diabetessisters.org.
With much love and hope,