Your Support Network
How to connect with those who will help you the most
Managing diabetes is a full-time job, but you don’t have to do it alone. Here’s how to build a reliable support network.
FIND YOUR TRIBE
“A community of people who have similar experiences and
‘get you’ can go a long way,” says Mark Heyman, Ph.D., CDE, director of the Center for Diabetes and Mental Health. Try attending a local meet-up through groups like JDRF, DiabetesSisters, or the College Diabetes Network. For kids, Beyond Type 1’s Snail Mail Club is a pen-pal program that connects kids with type 1 from around the world.
It can be easier to bond with others when you take away the pressure of speaking face-to-face. Digital diabetes communities—like Beyond Type 1, Type2Diabetes.com, TuDiabetes.org, and Diabetes Daily—are a click away. Even if you don’t post (lurking is totally OK!), finding an online community can help you discover new insights and see that others have similar concerns and are supported. Another option? Twitter. Follow hashtags like #diabetes, #T1D, #type1diabetes, #T2D, #type2diabetes, #dsma, and #wearenotwaiting.
TALK IT OUT
Managing diabetes can be exhausting—emotionally and physically. If you feel overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious, Heyman suggests working with a diabetes therapist to help identify coping strategies. Check the American Diabetes Association’s Mental Health Provider Directory for providers, and confirm that your insurance covers mental health benefits. (They’re covered by Medicare Part B.)
A diabetes coach can provide the extra support and actionable tools you need to reach your goals. Ask your doctor or online community for recommendations. Or see if you have access to a health coach through your insurance benefits. When you find one, check their background and nutrition or fitness credentials and ask for references before signing on. Steer clear of coaches who offer quick fixes or dispense medical advice. Online programs we like include Diabetes Strong, Livongo, and mySugr.
Joining (or starting!) a diabetes walking group is a great way to connect with a new community. Your family and friends have the best intentions, but they don’t always know how to support your diabetes management. Try these four ways to grow your diabetes support team.the problemthe remake