According to Clinical Psychologist Dr. Wendy Satin Rapaport, panic, resentment, guilt, worry, anger, dread, and disgust are all feelings that might arise at times when dealing with your child’s diabetes. The good thing is that it’s normal to feel all of these emotions…because we are all human (even though you play the role of Super Hero in your child’s life).
Everyone develops a personal coping style, which often comes naturally but might not always work effectively. So, how can you cope with your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and your child’s health in the most positive way?
Dr. Rapaport offers up 7 Healthy Coping Methods for Positive Diabetes Management that will help you and your child better manage the daily demands of T1D.
1. Naming/Story Telling – Tell your story through a private journal or a public blog to get your emotions out. By putting a name to what feels intolerable, you will better recognize your feelings and begin to adjust how you handle challenges.
2. Humor – Smiles and laughter have an undeniable effect on your mood, happiness, and overall health. It can make those intolerable feelings seem more palatable.
3. Social Support – A local diabetes support group or an online support group are great ways to help relieve feelings of isolation, anger, anxiety, or lonliness. If you’re not already there, join the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation’s PEP Squad closed group on Facebook.
4. Distraction – Sometimes it’s enough to simply keep your mind on caring about others, such as your child with diabetes, other children without diabetes, or your spouse. Distraction can also be achieved with things or activities, like audio books, reading, art, or music. Losing yourself in the act of creating — a painting, a clean floor, a carpentry project, a beautiful meal — is probably the best distraction of all because it focuses and relaxes you.
5. Altruism – When you do something for someone else, you start to see yourself as valuable. Even if it’s just sharing your diabetes anecdotes with a newly diagnosed family who might learn from you. Listening to and helping other people allows us to gain a new sense of ourselves, thus adding to our self-esteem. Joining a fundraising organization for a diabetes cause you believe in can also help you feel your worth and value.
6. Positive Self Talk – Remember that SNL bit, “Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley”? “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggonit, people like me!” Sure, it was poking fun at the self-help industry, but positive self talk — our internal dialogue — is truly a skill that challenges irrational thinking and promotes new behaviors that are healthy. Try it…because you absolutely are good enough and smart enough to manage your child’s diabetes effectively! (Remember effective does not equal perfection.)
7. Relaxation – You might be thinking…I have a child with diabetes, a job, a spouse, and a family; I don’t have time to relax! But it doesn’t require a full day at the spa for a relaxing activity to have a positive effect on your overall well-being. A half hour of light walking, meditation, or yoga can do wonders on your body and mind. It might be just the boost you need to get you through the day.
By recognizing and identifying those feelings that cause you stress, you can step away from their power over you. Of course, it is always helpful for families affected by diabetes to get counseling – for good mental health and to create a foundation to meet challenges ahead. “You don’t have to be crazy to see a therapist, but sometimes you have to be crazy not to.”
SOURCE: Adapted from the book, “When Diabetes Hits Home,” by Wendy Satin Rapaport, PsyD