Having diabetes can stir up a lot of different feelings, especially when you first
find out you have it. It's a big change to suddenly have to visit the doctor more
often, take medicine, and watch what you eat.
But dealing with diabetes will get easier and become part of normal daily life
— like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Let's find out how you get there.
How Do Kids With Diabetes Feel?
first diagnosed, kids with diabetes may worry about what it will mean. Some might
worry about having to take insulin
shots. Other kids might be upset if they have to change the
way they eat. And all kids with diabetes may wonder, "Why me?" and think, "It
Having diabetes also can make kids feel sad, angry, upset, or alone because most
of their friends don't have to worry about their blood sugar levels. It's just not
something a kid wants.
Faced with all this, some kids with diabetes might pretend they don't have it.
They might hope they can pretend it away by not thinking or talking about it. Or,
they might want to hide it because they feel embarrassed, different, or like they
did something wrong to get this illness.
Kids might worry that their diabetes is causing a lot of trouble for their parents
or brothers or sisters. Or they might be angry with their parents because they make
them take medicines or eat healthy foods. Sometimes a kid might feel angry or jealous
of a brother, sister, or friend who doesn't have diabetes.
How Can I Handle My Feelings?
It's OK to have lots of different feelings about diabetes. Finding out you have
it means you have to make a big adjustment. You'll have to get used to taking care
of your diabetes and making that care part of your everyday routine. It's not easy
to change what you've been doing.
But the more you learn about diabetes, the more you will feel in control and
able to handle it as part of everyday life. Eventually, most kids with diabetes start
feeling comfortable with their treatments (believe it or not!) and with the tools
(like blood glucose meters
or insulin shots) they need to use to stay healthy.
Find Ways to Talk About It
Finding someone to talk
to can help a kid feel better. It doesn't change that a kid has diabetes and has to
deal with it. But talking can feel good — kind of like, "Whew, now that's off
my chest!" Parents are good people to talk with, and so are other grown-ups in your
life, like grandparents and other relatives. A school counselor or your friends also
can be helpful to you.
When you have questions or feelings about diabetes, you can tell your doctor too.
Maybe your doctor can help you find other kids with diabetes. They can be really good
to talk with because they're going though the same stuff. A diabetes support group
— kind of like a club for kids with diabetes — is one way to discover
you're not the only kid with diabetes. Your doctor can tell you if there's a support
group in your area.
Some kids find it tough to open up and talk about their feelings. If this is you,
maybe you can find another way of expressing what it's like for you. For instance,
you could write a letter or draw a picture to show how diabetes makes you feel. You
might choose to share this with a parent or someone who's close to you, or you might
decide just to keep it private.
It's especially important to tell your parent or your doctor if you're feeling
really sad or really angry about things. There are good ways to help you feel better
if strong feelings are bothering you. And if someone is bullying
you or teasing you because of diabetes, be sure to tell an adult.
What Else Can I Do to Feel Better?
Here are a few other tips for dealing with your feelings about diabetes:
Follow your doctor's advice. Your diabetes management plan will
tell you what you need to do to stay healthy. When you follow this advice (with a
parent's help, of course), you'll feel better. And when you feel better, diabetes
won't get in the way of what you want to do — like play with your friends or
go to a party.
Learn how to do some stuff yourself. At first, your mom or dad
might do most of the work in taking care of your diabetes. But little by little, you
can take over some of these jobs. For instance, when testing your blood sugar, you
might choose the spot for testing, press the plunger on the syringe, and read the
results out loud. It's good practice for the day when you'll do all this stuff on
Get organized. Even if your mom or dad is still helping you take
your diabetes medicine and eat right, there can be a lot to keep track of if you have
diabetes. Getting organized
can help. Maybe you can make a checklist with your mom and dad. Every night, go over
the checklist and make sure you have the snacks and medicines you'll need for the
Tell friends and teachers about your diabetes. When more people
know about your diabetes, you'll probably feel more comfortable about taking daily
trips to the school nurse or other things you might need to do to stay healthy. Your
mom or dad can help start this process by talking to your teacher. Most kids decide
to tell their close friends about having diabetes. Then, if you need to, you can talk
to your friends about how you're feeling.
Prepare for ups and downs. Even when you've adjusted to having
diabetes, you might have a few struggles. Maybe your blood sugar will get too high
or too low, even though you're following your doctor's advice. Your diabetes
health care team, your parents, and others can help. Try to be patient and share
your feelings during those rough patches. And be on the lookout for good things that
might happen along the way, too, like feeling confident, brave, and proud of all you're
learning to do.