Having diabetes can be overwhelming and even scary at times. It can feel that way, too, for the people who care about you and your well-being—and sometimes their fear and worry about your diabetes can be translated into criticism and nagging, which puts everyone on the defensive.
One of your partner's biggest frustrations may be lack of control, which can cause constant worry over daily issues. Are you eating too many carbs? Did you take your medication? Are you getting enough exercise? Will you go blind someday? You want your partner to be concerned with such things—but also to help you with them in a way that’s supportive, not annoying. And you need to tell him or her that. Here are some sample scripts to get you started.
I realize that it’s difficult for you to accept that you can't control how I manage my disease. But know this: In a single day, I make many decisions that will affect my blood sugar. To exercise or not exercise. To eat or not eat. To sleep or not sleep. It’s likely that you will observe times when I am not making the best choices for my diabetes. It’s important to remember to focus on the overall picture. Diabetes lasts for a lifetime, so while small choices are important, focusing on my general health is the ultimate goal.
I want you to help me take care of myself—without making me feel like a failure. Maybe start by asking about about my A1C level, and taking an honest assessment of what my life is like day to day. If my A1C is below 7 percent and I seem to be loving life, then please try to relax a little. But if my A1C is high and my health is struggling, then perhaps you can offer to work with me to find the right motivation to improve it. But please don’t nag. Nagging won’t motivate me, and the constant stream of advice seems to strain our relationship.
I want to talk about this. Tell me honestly—from the heart—why you’re concerned. Then let me tell you exactly what you could do to help make me manage my diabetes better. Maybe we could go for a walk together every night or you could help me with making medical appointments or offering reminders to monitor my blood sugar. But if I ask you to back off, please do. And please don’t wince any time I reach for dessert.
(Note: If you have difficulties communicating with your partner, consider suggesting that you talk with a family counselor—and one who has experience working with others who have chronic diseases.)
I want you to take care of yourself too. By focusing so much on me, are you overlooking your own needs? Are you eating well, exercising and getting enough rest? I understand you also need ways to alleviate the stress of looking after a loved one with diabetes.
I love that you want to help. But maybe you could spread your focus beyond me. And maybe you could try volunteering with a diabetes research foundation, or adopt diabetes as a fundraising cause. You may feel more empowered when you feel as though you’re actively involved in diabetes research.