Pieces of the Emotional Support Puzzle

I’ve written a great deal about the need for more “emotional” support from diabetes healthcare professionals.

In my humble experience, I often felt a lack of emotional support from my endocrinologist and my doctor. I never felt that they had the time for me on a busy clinic day, and I didn’t really feel too important when there were younger children and families around who understandably required more attention.

It was often hard to open up and be honest with them for fear of judgement. My very first endocrinologist told me that I had very poor control, just weeks after my diagnosis, which you can read about here. Meanwhile, my general practitioner often told me that “my sugar levels are too high” without actually offering anything more substantial or helpful.

I’m amazed at the amount of “smart” comments that I receive, with suggestions that I should find a counsellor every time write about these issues. Comments like these always leave me second guessing myself. Am I too vulnerable? Over emotional? An attention seeker? A basket case? A person who shouldn’t be blogging?

So, it was really fantastic to see that psychologist Marisa Hilliard dedicated a session at the World Diabetes Congress in Vancouver last week to this very issue: diabetes healthcare professionals prioritising emotional wellbeing. I was also honoured that this post of mine was quoted in her presentation.

For the record, I certainly don’t expect that an endocrinologist or general practitioner should have to fill the role of a counsellor. They are qualified professionals in high demand. No doubt they have far better things to do with their time than listen to me blubber on about my diabetes.

However, I do expect that health care professionals will listen to me. I do expect that health care professionals will make me feel comfortable to open up to them. I do expect that health care professionals will look beyond what’s written on the charts and talk to me about what’s going on. I expect that health care professionals will show some empathy during consultations. And I expect that healthcare professionals will offer support and encouragement.

This is not a big ask. This can be done. Even on a busy clinic day. Even when time is limited. Even if you’re meeting me for the first time. Even if you are a general practitioner who is not a diabetes expert. Nobody has to be qualified to be supportive and empathetic, in my opinion.

Emotional wellbeing helps me to see value in my diabetes healthcare team. It encourages me to continue to manage my diabetes to the best of my ability. A good experience motivates me to keep in touch with my diabetes healthcare professionals and to ensure I have my regular checkups. Above all, emotional well being has helped me to prioritise my health. It’s the difference between walking out of the doc’s office holding back tears, or with the biggest grin that I can’t wipe off my face.

Obviously, my endocrinologist and general practitioner are only individual pieces of the “emotional” support puzzle in my diabetes care. I have my wonderful diabetes educator, Gwen, who has my undivided attention during every 60 minute session I have with her. I have my family at home, whom I have a newfound appreciation for in my diabetes care. I know that they are cheering me on every step of the way, even if they don’t have diabetes themselves.

I’ve also discovered the amazing Diabetes Online Community through blogging this year, who have come through for me in more ways than you would imagine. I can tweet something at 2am in the morning and instantly receive words of encouragement and advice. I have the wonderful Oz Diabetes Online Community who I can hang out with on Twitter every Tuesday night. I look forward to my coffee break every single morning, when I can sit back and check in with the Diabetes Online Community on Twitter.

I also have all of you who cheer me on through your support of this blog.

A year ago, I certainly felt very alone with my diabetes.

Finding emotional wellbeing has helped me to embrace it.

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