Is fear a prerequisite to manage a chronic disease well? Over the years I've read many posts in response to questions I've posed regarding closely held attitudes and beliefs about their or their child's diabetes. One theme overshadows all others. Fear, confusion, anxiety and even guilt often rules following a diabetes diagnosis. For some, this is eventually replaced with acceptance, confidence and a firm resolve to succeed. In most cases, quality education (initial and ongoing) about diabetes usually played a role in this evolution.
But there seems to be a significant percentage of those in the online community who, even after years of living with diabetes, still seem very fearful of this disease. Is it simply a lack of understanding of how diabetes "works"? Is it a persistent fear of the unknown? Or…is it a necessary element of our ability to self-manage diabetes? I suppose the word “fear” could be euphemistically re-phrased as “healthy respect for the condition”.
I recall a line from an old "Twilight Zone" episode where the iconic host/narrator Rod Serling says "There is nothing in the dark that isn't there when the lights are on". I find that a fitting summary of my journey to better "lighting up" my own diabetes. I lived for years (decades actually) blissfully unaware and ignorant of so much about my diabetes (I lived in the dark). I tended to believe much of what I had been led to believe by doctors (always well-meaning of course) who usually painted the grimmest of pictures of my future. For example, I never thought I would live to see age 44 (the year 2000), But I kept those demons to myself. I was diagnosed on March 1, 1966.
I finally had my own "aha" moment a couple of decades ago where I realized I could make this disease work for me and not the other way around. I stopped making excuses and blaming my diabetes for anything I couldn't do. Was that an act of defiance? Perhaps. But it was an epiphany that fundamentally altered the way I looked at my disease and my life.
As I’m known to constantly profess, diabetes care IS a choice. I CHOOSE to make all the decisions I must make each day to (hopefully) keep my blood sugars in a reasonable target range of my CHOOSING. My continuous glucose monitoring device coupled with my Sugar Surfing methods have taken me a long way to bolster and affirm my attitude of empowerment.
As my belief and confidence in my self-care abilities and understanding of diabetes grew, the fear I had lived (and actually grown comfortable with in a macabre way), began to wither. I didn’t miss it. I suppose it lives somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, waiting for a weak moment to pounce on my consciousness. But I now know I dominate it and not vice versa. My fear has been de-fanged.
I wish my journey to self-empowerment had not taken so long, but it is what it is. We all have our own roads to travel with our diabetes. I just wonder, and want to read, what all my good diabetes friends out there think about diabetes and fear. Just what role does it (or should it) play in how we live well (or not so well) with diabetes? I encourage you to be honest and frank. Remember, I judge no one. Please also feel free to share this post with your other d-friends and loved ones. I am very much looking forward to what you all have to say.