Jeanette Terry was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 11 years old, and she has since lived with diabetes through difficult life transitions, including the teenage years, college, and having children. She addresses the day-to-day struggles of living with diabetes—going beyond medical advice—to improve overall adherence and management.

When you are first diagnosed with diabetes, there are many things to learn and many questions to be answered. It can be overwhelming to consider all of the lifestyle changes that are often required to get better control—the most common being diet and exercise.

While these are very important for immediate care, there is one area that is rarely addressed but vitally important to overall diabetes management: emotional health.

Fear is a huge obstacle that can wreck your emotional health if you let it. If your fears aren’t addressed at the very beginning of your journey with diabetes, they can lead to very unstable emotional health, which in turn leads to poor overall diabetes control.

The best thing to do is identify your fears early and start working through them. Eventually, you can use your fears to develop strengths that replace them.

The biggest worry

The most common fear for many people with diabetes is the fear of developing complications. We have all heard horror stories about the havoc that complications from diabetes can cause to the body.

It is true that poor control can lead to some pretty serious health problems. But this doesn’t have to be the case. If good blood sugar control is maintained along with a healthy lifestyle, the chance of developing complications is much lower. In fact, there is no reason someone can’t live a long, healthy, and happy life with diabetes as long as the disease is cared for properly and diligently.

A lot of times, fear comes from not understanding. One of the best things you can do is to learn all you can about diabetes. With current technology and research, there is always something new being discovered about this unpredictable disease. By learning all that you can, it will be easier to roll with the constant changes in your body and your treatment.

Fears that are suppressed and not ever addressed can lead to denial and an underlying feeling of guilt. Denial of any aspect of your diabetes is unhealthy. It makes it nearly impossible to take control of your diabetes. This is a disease that cannot be ignored. You either jump in with both feet or wait to let the effects of diabetes strip you of the things you love in life. By ignoring treatment today, your earlier fears of complications become a reality in your future.

A change for the better

If you haven’t yet, sit down and take some time to assess what you are really feeling. Feelings are sometimes hard to handle in and of themselves, but in order to achieve optimal control and health, you need to put everything out on the table and identify the areas in which you are weak, as well as identify what your fears really are. Then, make a plan that will help you use that fear to propel you in a positive direction. This will make you a stronger person, both physically and emotionally.

Eventually, you will find that you will no longer be afraid of diabetes, but empowered by it.

To learn more about emotional health:
Diabetes Burnout: Why It's OK
Diabetic Burnout? How to Talk about Your Feelings
8 Ways to Love Life with Diabetes