Expectations vs Reality written on arrow flags

Diabetes is a complex disease, and it’s unlikely that anyone finished painting the full picture for you at diagnosis. Left to your own predictive thoughts and expectations, it’s likely that your picture also had falsities and missing elements.

I remember my endocrinologist in 1984 saying, “There’ll be a cure in 5 years.” And honestly, as a 13-year-old, I kind of hung my hat on that. 

Let’s face it, people like to know what to expect — even if it’s full of difficulties and disappointments. This goes beyond the basic tasks, tools, and numbers. As individuals, people need to know the emotional, physical, and social impacts, too.

Diabetes isn’t going away anytime soon, in fact, “Individuals born in the U.S. in the year 2000 have a 1 in 3 chance of developing diabetes,” according to American Diabetes Association (ADA). Let’s break this down together.

Ironing Out Expectations

Why is it important to have accurate expectations out of the gate? Because inaccurate expectations can create stress when they don’t match reality. Regardless of your introduction to diabetes, you can make positive changes today. 

Don’t be afraid to:

  • Ask questions
  • Do your own research
  • Meet others living with diabetes
  • Become an expert in your own right

When Expectations Don't Match Reality

I’m sure this won’t be the only time in your life that expectations aren’t panning out. So, it’s a good learning experience to have under your belt. Tempering expectations, not falling prey to information traps, overestimating outcomes, and remembering to be kind to yourself along the way is hard work. You can do it.

Adapting to Change

Not everyone is hard-wired with emotional resilience, but the good news is — you can develop it. If you don’t have a “roll with the punches” kind of attitude, you can get closer to it over time with practice.

  • Be as optimistic as possible
  • Develop a sense of humor
  • Learn along the way
  • Be gentle on yourself
  • Ask for support when you need it
  • Drop the word "perfect".

Moving Forward

You may already have been stressed before receiving a diabetes diagnosis (this includes caregivers, too.) Perhaps you had financial, relationship, or parenting worries to begin with. 

Chronic stress levels can be some of the most damaging (hello diabetes, I’m talking about you). Life — plus diabetes — can be a lot to handle, and it can cause diabetes distress. It’s also hard to make smart decisions with a stressed out brain.

Try reframing your thoughts about diabetes. There are positive things to find every day, regardless of the weight that you’re carrying on your shoulders. Instead of thinking or saying, “I hate diabetes,” try replacing it with, “diabetes is really hard, but I’m trying my best.”

  • Set realistic goals with your healthcare provider
    • Improved blood sugars give a fresh perspective
  • Make adjustments and create new habits
    • Do more things that bring you joy
    • Turn negative thoughts into positive ones
    • Simplify and reduce other stressors when possible
    • Exercise regularly to boost feel-good hormones
  • Reach out to others
    • If you find yourself thinking, "if my healthcare provider would have told me about...", the share that information. Helping others feels really good, too.

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