Staying Positive with Diabetes

Ann Bartlett Health Guide
  • These days I wear a few different hats: business owner, massage therapist, blogger, board member for JDRF.   Everyday I wear, at least, two of my hats and often by the end of the day I’ve lost my mind!


    One of my favorite hats is outreach chair for JDRF Capitol Chapter.  Since I’ve lived with diabetes for 37 years and had to walk the emotional and physical path of the disease, I speak purely from experience.  My strong belief is keep it positive and I look for inspiration for my own life!  I read materials that are positive and meaningful, articles that make me laugh with irreverence!  I try to keep things simple, because we tend to get caught up in the minutia of what I call “stupid!”

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    Stupid is tabloid material that gets us emotionally charged about something.  Stupid is mind-numbing television that preys on human weakness.  Currently, I’m on a news fast, I’ve had it with tabloid news!  Take two extreme opposites to talk about a topic, most of the time you get an argument with no closure on the subject for the public!?  Ugh, drama!   


    When a family has to deal with a new diagnosis stress is in abundant measure.  Add to that the drama other people will bring to it and it turns into a pressure cooker for everyone and suddenly your life looks like a television drama! 


    I had received an email from the National office from someone who had a newly diagnosed teen and was looking for a web based community for her.  I finally contacted the mother this week.  I could tell from her email, that level of frustration and worry and the drama.  She wrote,


    Thanks for contacting me, Ann.  After three weeks we are still processing information and figuring out how to cope.  My daughter, who is 15 and was diagnosed less than a month ago, is doing well as far as accepting the insulin as prescribed, but emotionally she's not there yet. She refuses to tell anyone (of course I insisted on telling the school and her best friend), does not want to read information or join groups, has turned the dining room into a heap of supplies and trash from the daily routine... has nightmares...and is feeling gloomy most of the time.


    In time the information you provided will be useful, I'm sure. For now I am happy she will follow doctors orders and is slowly changing eating habits.”


    This is a ton of issues to sort through! When I talk to groups and individuals about diabetes I explain "Cuddle the child, don’t coddle the diagnosis!"  For most of us who live very normal healthy lives, I think part of that is the parenting we received!  The issue of diabetes is layered and difficult.  But the best thing a parent can do is continue to parent the child just as before!  How else are they going to feel grounded? Cuddling is not accepting the drama, but figuring out coping skills and continue to be the parent, it’s critical! 


    This was my reply to this mother:


  • "I've lived with diabetes since I was 5.  Life was very normal, I didn't miss out.  Part of that was my parent’s attitude not to let me use diabetes for control.  Don't be afraid to be the parent she needs!  Would you let her shoes or clothes sit on the table?  Treat it as you should anything else, she actually needs that to help ground her!  Emotionally, she needs to find normal for her self and that will be a struggle for a while and that deserves the dining room table!!  

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    Tell her that there are very few things she can't do!  For example, cells have been sent into space and we can travel to the moon!  Lee Ducat, founder of JDRF, funded that research in the 80's, and she told me "you have no reason to think you can't! " It's one of the reasons she founded the organization, to have research help us get past human expectation with science to back up the possible.  There's a great site called  There are so many things she can do, sitting and worrying about what might happen, won't let her find her own limits.  She'll stumble for a while, but that is part of learning where her limits are.  She maybe surprised not much will change in her life!"  


    There is no question that everyone needs room and permission to vent, and be angry.  But when self-destructive patterns come into play, or patterns that inconvenience a household, like taking over the dining room table physically, that is manipulating behavior.


    Many people turn to my shareposts for holistic approaches, but honestly, part of a holistic approach is being positive.  Positive thinking brings down cortisol, which lowers the stress level. Positive thinking draws people to you, it gives you reward, that far outweighs dramatic behavior.  People tend to burnout on drama and they will walk away when they have had enough.  Think positive and be positive and the world is your oyster!


Published On: April 28, 2008