Ask the Expert
The PEP Squad was founded by parents and therapists working together to help families affected by diabetes. We have three mental health professionals who are part of the group and willing to answer your questions related to emotions and the psycho-social issues of diabetes. Below is our first submitted question, with advice from one of our experts!
Question from a PEP Squad member:
I have found in my 62 years of type 1 diabetes that even though I see family and friends, I tend to spend short periods of time with them. Never will I go with a friend shopping on an all day expedition as it would be filled with blood tests, insulin shots, food breaks, etc - many little annoyances, which those with normal blood sugars do not have to deal with. Maybe some friends would not mind, but the one who would mind is me. I can't stand getting the attention that would result from this and I don't want to feel their pity. Since this works for me, I'm okay, but I often wonder what life would be like if type 1 diabetes hadn't reared its ugly head in my life at age 12. Do other people with diabetes have similar feelings?
Advice provided by Family Therapist Ilene Vinikoor, LMFT, LCSW:
I would like to let you know that I was diagnosed with T1D in 1968 and that I have been an individual, couples and family therapist since 1977.
I read and reread this email, attempting to relate to how she feels. I think she and I define our feelings very differently. I do not want to interfere with my friends’ fun when we are together, but I make sure they are aware that it is a necessity to test my blood sugars and determine whether I need to eat or take insulin. Then, I just do what I have to do.
I don’t think that the attention they give me would result in having them pity me. Instead, I feel grateful for their concern and having them know the challenges we face every day to remain healthy. How we think determines how we feel. If we think, “I don’t want my friends to pity me,” it creates a completely different feeling than “I want my friends to respect, understand and, even admire, what I need to do to maintain my good health.”
I hope none of us limits our time with our friends—we need to live our lives as fully as possible. Let us meet every obstacle as a challenge. Let us have a positive attitude about testing, injecting insulin, exercising and having a healthy meal plan as necessities—we do not have to like it, but we need to accept this is what we have to do.
We offer special thanks to Ilene Vinikoor for taking the time to answer this question from our group. Do your kids ever feel this way? Post your own experience in our Facebook group> Facebook.com/groups/PEPsquadDRI
>Got a question for our expert? Email it to us. Selected questions will be answered in an upcoming PEP Talk.