Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day 24-Add a Support System

Lean on me. You can't do this all alone. You need a support system. A support group, trusted friends, a skilled therapist, or your family. You choose, but you are going to need help.

Support groups have value for a number of reasons.

  • Ends isolation. Nobody wants to be alone when faced with a problem. People who go to self-help support groups find real strength and insight that helps them deal with challenges.
  • Boosting motivation: Groups can be "infectious" in success sharing. Hearing others describe how they're managing sugar cravings can motivate you to do the same.
  • Shared understanding: While friends and relatives may offer well-intended support, they just can't know the struggles you face. A support group provides compassion, empathy, real-life wisdom and  informed support from people who've "been there."
  • An accepting environment: You can talk about virtually anything in a support group without the fear of being judged or embarrassment.
  • "Living the solution, not the problem:" The best meetings follow this credo. Rather than a pity party or complaint session, support groups are energized by creative ideas and shared solutions. 
  • Peer support: Well-run groups share personal experiences and practical strategies, instead of being told what you should do. Newcomers are welcomed warmly. Don't be shy. 
  • New trusted friends: Rock-solid relationships can sprout from these groups, often extending beyond official meetings to coffee talks, lunches, and dinner---even phone calls for emergency advice.
  • Low cost anonymity: Many groups are offered at low or no cost. Members use first names to ensure privacy.
  • The salt of the year: Some of the best-adjusted and friendliest folks on earth attend support groups regularly. 
A footnote on support groups. Experienced members tend to recommend you "take what you need and leave the rest." Meaning everything you hear won't immediately apply to you. Listen and keep the knowledge for later use. Some diabetes groups function under the premise that it's incurable. You know better and maybe you'll share what you know. Choose well when you select a group. Look for balance of newcomers and veterans coping with diabetes. Different perspectives add to the mix. Empathy is essential--it's why you're there. Steer clear of groups that charge a lot of money, push up to abandon your medical treatment or promise fast solutions and quick cures. Diabetes support groups come in all shapes and sizes, including those for children, teens, adults, couples, families, and women only. On-line support groups can be an immediate help. Use good judgment when browsing on-line groups. Be especially on guard for depression.

Set up a Wisdom Council on your own. What you don't think you can do that? Not everyone in your life can be supportive. But all you really need are just a couple of people you can always count on. It's essential to to differentiate between those who will support you and those who will make it easy to have a piece of cake. Here are some pointers on setting up a support group for yourself:
  • Like any healthy relationship tell your friends what you need. Educate them about diabetes and the 30 day plan you're following. Let them know you're asking for their support and be specific about how they can give it.
  • Talk to your core group honestly and directly about your condition. Share your real feelings about the disease, and let them know how much you value their assistance and their support. 
  • Tell them  up front that there might be times when you're going to need their help, and make sure it's okay to call upon them.
  • Share your intention to take control over your health and body. Explain what you've learned about foods that contribute to health and well-being---and the ones that don't. Talk to them openly about what's working for you and what isn't. This will help them support you when they see you're slipping.
  • Invite them over for a potluck of dishes containing your favorite diabetes healing super foods. Share you knowledge about how these foods heal diabetes.
  • Confess how hard it is to ask for help sometimes. You;ll be breaking down barriers that keep you isolated, and you'll be marshalling the support you need just by letting them know that, in fact, you do need them.
  • You could be saving their life in the process. While none of your friends or family may have diabetes now, it's entirely possible they eventually may develop it. Get a pal to walk with you and to start eating better. By sharing your experience with your friends, you could be saving a life.
If none of this sounds possible for you, consider professional counseling. 
  • Look for someone trained in cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Start by asking your doctor or diabetes educator.
  • Ask your support group for recommendations.
  • Don't hesitate to ask the therapist about his/her qualifications and familiarity or experience in dealing with diabetes and the costs involve.
On a personal note, I'm not a group kind of person. I think that's the nature of a creative person. My parents are both diabetic and I have my Dad following this program. However, I am likely to be derailed when I am with them. My brother is the guy who sends me everything he finds of healthy living. I appreciate that he cares. My daughter has asked for a list of the things I can eat so when I visit she will have them on hand.  I have friends who are a great support system and have watched me struggle with this for years. They are my biggest cheering section. One day I will try to find a before photo of me so that I can take an after and let you see my progress.

1 comment:

  1. more great insights and pointers--sounds like your daughter has your back!


Welcome to the New Year, New Life

I have moved from my home in South Carolina back to Michigan. It is currently under contract. Sorry no photo of my current residence. ...