If you were in denial by its definition, you wouldn’t know if you were. You only find out when you are out of it. Crazy right. Denial is the reverse of acceptance.
For example, you love cotton candy and every time you eat it; your blood sugar goes out of control. Despite feeling feel sick the rest of the day, you eat it every time you see it. Are you blaming the insulin for not working or increased insulin resistance? If you are, that is a good example of denial.
So what is acceptance then? Well, I can tell you this, it is not to stop eating the cotton candy. Have I peaked your interest?
Some people think that acceptance is black or white, you do, or you don’t accept having diabetes. I wish it were that simple. I have been chasing this elusive beast for years. Every time I think I have it, I come to find I have more work to do. A person works towards acceptance, but I believe can never truly attain full acceptance.
Think of it on a sliding scale with denial on one side and acceptance on the other. It would take hours to describe what full acceptance of living with diabetes is, so I won’t go there. Let’s look at it as doing everything by the book, and you are content without animosity, with what you are doing. Which I have come to understand that acceptance, as spiritual ascendance in Buddhism, is unattainable. Denial, for the purpose of this blog, is living life with making few to no lifestyle adjustment to managing diabetes.
So if acceptance is on one end of a sliding scale and denial on the other where does that leave you? No one is at either end, but most are somewhere in between and thank god for that. Why?
Cotton Candy, I like it. Once in a blue moon (once a year or so) why not indulge. It is pure sugar but if you like it, take the extra insulin and have some. Better yet share some, but just keep in mind your blood sugars will be harder to control for the rest of the day.
To enjoy the cotton candy you need to suppress temporally the fact that you have diabetes to avoid the guilt and thoroughly enjoy it. Think of it as a controlled denial (suppression.) Everyone needs some level of denial in his or her life to be happy.
Acceptance is not an end goal, but the process to continually understand the truths one faces. The more you accept, the easier life becomes. It is a hard process and requires listening to others with an open mind. You never know, the ones who love you might be right.
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.