Now, I am going to discuss how denial changed or didn’t change me, as well as the impact denial, had on my life. Where in my previous blog, “Diabetes: Losing Your Way of Living Life,” I talked about denial and the impact it had on my diagnosis day.
The diagnosis was a death sentence back then. Everyone in that room with me on that fateful day was in complete denial. “See, he can take care of himself, so we don’t have to worry about him. Everything is going to be all right!” Well, guess what? It wasn’t.
I wanted to keep everyone around me in denial so that I could continue in my denial. I was not going to change a thing. No one will ever know I have this “little issue.” I stayed in my denial for years.
I decided to be responsible around adults. I pretend to have everything under control and thanks to their denial, whatever I fed those in charge of me (mom, dad, doctors, teachers, or any other adult) they believed.
Act like an adult, and you are an adult. Well, let me tell you something, and you can take this to the bank. Children are children, regardless of how mature they act, and will never be responsible enough to take this disease on by themselves—at least until their mid-teens and even then they will still need your support.
I continued acting like nothing was wrong. I ate whatever I wanted and did what I wanted when adults weren’t around. I didn’t want different treatment than my friends. What will my friends think? Well, I didn’t want to find out, so I kept it to myself.
I was the same old me, and I was going to keep it that way. I won’t be one of those people who lose a foot or have all the horrible things happen to me.
For people with type II, don’t think for a second that you didn’t go through the same loss or that you can avoid denial. What is important? Regardless of how old or what type of diabetes you have, denial is always a strong possibility. You need to address it—even if it means seeking help from a therapist to figure why you are ignoring your health.
Denial is one of the first defense mechanisms a human being acquires. Everyone is in denial about something and most of the time whatever that is; it is relatively harmless to that person. With diabetes, it can and may be fatal.
If you are in denial, you are moving forward with your actions while ignoring the possible consequences of your behavior. What are the consequences of not taking care of diabetes? The consequences are many. You may have cognitive problems, including memory, thinking, or attention. Physical issues present as feeling sick all the time. Psychological problems such as depression and anxiety are common. Behavioral issues abound around managing relationships, performance at work, performance in the bedroom, and much much more!
How do you avoid the consequences of living in denial with diabetes? Take care of your diabetes by seeking out help. Work with the health professionals and with your family and friends to manage your diabetes. Without that support, diabetes is painfully hard. Total independence is a bad idea. Build the support team you need. How do you do that? Tune in for the next episode of “Diabetic Minds.”
Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Before making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.