Saturday, 5 April 2014

Where's your support network?

There are few things in this world that we can do entirely alone. As children, we needed help to learn to ride a bike, we needed someone to teach us learn to swim. Growing up, we needed the help of teachers and professors, to pass academic exams. We no doubt needed help in our first jobs, someone to guide us in the right direction. Someone to show us the ropes, and to point out where we went wrong.

Living with diabetes is no exception, yet many people often feel like they have to go through it alone. Maybe because they don't know anyone else who has the condition. Maybe because they feel like a 'burden' on their loved ones. Maybe they even feel guilty for having diabetes, and don't feel anyone else should have to put up with it, too.

This is very far from the truth, and very far from the expectations. Diabetes is a condition that doesn't yet have a cure. Until the day that we have a cure, we have to live with the condition. There are no 'holidays' from it, we cannot postpone the condition from ourselves. There is no escape.

There are no doubt times when we wish we could run from diabetes. Lock it in Room 101 and carry on as normal. Diabetes is the cause of so many cases of depression and anxiety, and of course, that could then have a knock-on effect with diabetes, itself.

When we feel like this, it is easy to want to lock away not just the diabetes, but lock ourselves away, from the rest of the world. To some people, this is a coping mechanism. They may need time to think. However, what about those who do this because they feel they have no one to help them get through this?

Diabetes UK has a number of branches when it comes to support networks. This is something they pride themselves on. and rightly so:

Careline: Dedicated helpline for people with diabetes, their parents, partners, friends, colleagues. The helpline is staffed by trained counsellors, who are there to answer ANY questions you have relating to diabetes. Very useful if you have a quick question, or if you need someone to just listen to you.

Local support groups: These have been running for many years, and give support to those with diabetes, on a much more local and personal level. Some groups focus on providing support, some look at ways to raise money for Diabetes UK. Many groups have guest speakers, covering a range of topics. Find your local group.

Diabetes Peer Support Volunteers: This is all about talking to someone who knows first hand what it's like to live with diabetes. They might not be healthcare professionals, but they CAN share their experiences, and help you to work out your issues.

There is a wealth of information out there, in the local community, and within the diabetes online community. As peer support volunteers, we really want to find a way to support YOU. Who do you talk to about your diabetes? Do you have someone you can talk to? Let us know, and let us listen to YOU. Because no matter what anyone thinks, it's all about YOU.