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Onto The Street Blog

Diabetes Sucks- And You Can Handle It

Some golden nuggets from Dr. Heyman's (Dr. Mark's!) new book, Diabetes Sucks- And You Can Handle It

Diabetes Distress

The numbers are astounding. Research shows over 40% of people with T1D meet the clinical cutoff for diabetes distress. Even more have diabetes burnout and negative emotions associated with T1D.

Mental health support should be a part of the treatment for EVERYBODY with T1D. But the bigger question is, what kind of mental health treatment do people with T1D really need? The answer may not be what you think.

Think beyond therapy!
When we think about mental health treatment, we usually imagine someone sitting on a couch in a therapist’s office talking about their problems – and that is what some people with T1D need. The problem is therapy is not what most people with T1D need. When we think about mental health treatment for T1D, we need to think beyond therapy.

What support do people with T1D need?
People with T1D need to know that their experience is normal. T1D comes with lots of challenging emotions. They need to know that they are not weird, different, or weak for feeling whatever they feel. Knowing you are not alone in how you feel goes a long way.

Problem-solving skills
Living with T1D means having to solve problems every day. If you have trouble solving problems, it can make you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and even helpless. Finding ways to solve problems can give you the confidence you need to navigate the challenges of managing T1D.

Stress management skills
Life with T1D can be stressful. Finding healthy ways to manage stress can make T1D a lot more manageable.

Support
T1D is NOT a do-it-yourself condition. Diabetes is challenging, and doing it independently without support makes it more difficult. Having people in your life to support and encourage you can make T1D a lot easier to handle.

How do I know if I need therapy or something else?
This is a great question, and there is not always a clear answer. Here are some general guidelines to think about as you figure out what kind of mental health support you need.

Do I need therapy?
Therapy can be helpful for people with T1D with mental health challenges that make work, relationships, or managing diabetes difficult. For example, if you fear low blood sugars or don’t take insulin to lose weight, therapy may be the best option. If you feel significant guilt and shame about diabetes, struggle with accepting that you have diabetes, or are recently diagnosed with a complication, therapy can help.

Who needs resources beyond therapy?
Most of the time, people who live with the daily stress and emotional burden of T1D can get the resources they need to support their emotional well-being without therapy. If you feel burned out, overwhelmed, and frustrated by the daily hassles of living with T1D but can still function and manage diabetes, beyond therapy resources may be the best option for you.

There’s good news!
It is easy to get overwhelmed trying to find what you need to support your mental health with T1D, but it doesn’t have to be! There are already many beyond therapy resources, and more are being created every day.

By re-imaging what mental health support for T1D looks like, people with T1D can get the help they need! 

Who Is This Book For? (And who isn’t it for...)

You may wonder if this book is right for you and if you will get any value from reading it. Here is the answer:

• If T1D has you overwhelmed, burned out, and at your wit’s end, then this book is for you.
• If you find diabetes tolerable but irritating and are looking for better ways to deal with it, then this book is for you.
• If you’re doing okay right now, but have had trouble dealing with T1D in the past, then this book is for you.
• If you are newly diagnosed and want to make sure you have all the tools necessary to handle the stress T1D will bring in the future, this book is for you.
• If you love someone who lives with T1D and want to understand what they are dealing with and how you can support them, then this book is for you.
However...
• If you’re a diabetes rock star who has never experienced any emotional challenges with T1D and you are confident T1D will never be stressful for you, this book is NOT for you.

About The Author
Dr. Mark Heyman is a clinical psychologist specializing in helping people navigate the emotional challenges of living with Type 1 Diabetes. He understands T1D not only professionally but also personally—as he has been living with T1D for over 20 years.

You can find his new book Diabetes Sucks- And You Can Handle It here