Hi Dr. Gary,

I was diagnosed Type 2 in 2000, and I'm just now getting my blood sugars under control with a regime of Amaryl, Lantus & Apidra and supervision of a clinical pharmacist and nutritionist. I'm an emotional eater, with sweets and volume eating being my go-to behaviors, but I'm learning to find alternate ways to deal with emotions.

In 2011, I was diagnosed with the beginnings of neuropathy in my feet. Although I am doing better with supervision, when I am on my own, I get a thrill (?) from getting away with being rebellious even as I have to deal with the symptoms of neuropathy that are also now in my hands.

My question is this: Why do I continue to do what I know is killing me even as it causes me pain as I do it?


Nice to hear from you, Connie!

First, sounds like you have been taking care of yourself. Being compliant with medication and learning how to cope with those eating triggers. Working with experts. You have a good self-care foundation in place. Congratulations!

Now for that rebelliousness. A great word, by the way.

Let’s face it. Living with diabetes isn’t an easy road. It’s not like you can say “I’m done with this” and leave the room. Where you go, diabetes goes. And when you’ve been dealing with the challenges of keeping your blood sugar where it needs to be, and then you get hit with something like neuropathy, it’s only human to feel frustrated. All that work, and still all that uncertainty. “Leave me alone already!”

Diabetes brings up a lot of control issues. It demands so much from you, each and every day. And if there is one thing human beings want in their lives, it’s to be in control. So it’s only natural to want to just want to take a break. To be a little rebellious, to “cheat” on the diet, or to skip checking your blood sugar or taking your medication. To have your own way for a change. “Take that, diabetes! You aren’t running my life! I’m in charge.” That can feel good, for a little while at least.

It might help to reframe how you view your diabetic self-care. Sure, it’s a lot of work. And yes, keeping your blood sugar where it needs to be can feel like walking a tight rope at times. But on the other hand, taking care of yourself keeps you as healthy, as active, as vibrant as possible. Those rebel moments are temporarily gratifying. But who needs those consequences?

So here’s an idea: Instead of viewing your diabetic self-care as a struggle for control, how about instead think of your self-care as the tools that enable you to be the absolute best you can be? You can start by deciding not to give in to the urge to give up, even for a moment. Be a rebel with a cause – your cause!

I am wondering if you could use some support. It might help to enlist people in your life who can listen without judgment, who can share the struggles and the victories with you. Sitting down with someone and just venting for awhile about how much you’d like to have one of those rebel moments – and even having a laugh or two – can help motivate you to stay on the path.

And so can writing about it and hearing back from other members who also have those times when they just want to rebel. So stay in touch with us!

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To learn more on this topic:
Coping with your diabetes diagnosis
Ask an Expert: What if My Health Prohibits Returning to My Job?
Adjusting Expectations to Meet the Reality of Diabetes