Shortly after my diabetes diagnosis, I felt like I needed someone to talk to about coping with diabetes. After eight years, I finally decided to ask my GP about seeing a counselor. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made for my mental health and confidence.
Why had I not asked for help earlier?
I didn’t know how to bring it up with my first educator. After dropping a few hints that I wasn’t coping as well as I seem to be, I was brushed off as being in denial with my diabetes and that I just needed some time. So I told myself that I was being silly and trudged on.
After a while, I decided to search online for a psychologist who had experience with people with diabetes. Navigating the “find a psychologist” site was overwhelming as I had no idea what I was looking for. So it fell off the list of things to do.
In the meantime, I found the Diabetes Online Community or more importantly #OzDOC, who helped me feel comfortable and somewhat normal in living with diabetes. But there were still times I would feel down for no reason or tear up over nothing. I thought it was burnout and stress and pushed myself to work through it, convinced that it was a passing cloud.
Towards the end of last year, I finally asked my GP for a referral to a counselor. I knew how I was feeling wasn’t quite right and I was starting to notice its impact on other areas in my life. All I had to do was fill out a questionnaire and asked for a referral to someone nice and understanding. Thankfully, she had the right person for me as the thought of counselor shopping was draining.
Initially, I didn’t tell many people I had started seeing a counselor for the fear of being judged. It was ironic that I was petrified of the stigma from seeing a counselor, when I am passionate in fighting against the stigma of diabetes.
During the IDF Young Leader in Diabetes training in Vancouver, some of my friends openly spoke of having a counselor as part of their regular diabetes healthcare team. Slowly, I realised that dedicating time towards my mental health was the missing piece of my diabetes care and I had made the right choice.
I see my counselor regularly now and it’s almost a relief to talk to someone who doesn’t personally know the people around me about everything that is happening in my life. It’s an hour of me, just talking about my life and my feelings without judgement or expectations. Diabetes rarely even comes into our discussions. We work on things like mindfulness, and building self-confidence and it has really made a huge difference on how I cope with things, carry myself and on my relationships with friends and family. After all, how could I not love a healthcare professional who leaves homework tasks such as booking a massage for myself?