NOTE: Recently, I found out I was diagnosed with LADA – Latent Autoimmune Diabetes In Adults, which is a slow-progressing form of Type 1 diabetes. You can read about my new diagnosis here. This blog post is still full of great advice to cope.
When I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, my doctor literally told me “Here’s 4 medications, read the bottles, take them, exercise (here’s an app), eat differently, and I’ll see you in three months.”
I went home and cried that first day because I didn’t know what it meant or what to do.
I thought that I ruined my life, and I didn’t know where to start or who to turn to.
I didn’t know what resources to visit either. No one was talking about their type 2 diabetes, and I just felt lost, alone and frankly depressed by the whole thing.
That’s because my whole life I’ve been trying to fix my body.
I went on diet, after diet, spent hours and hours in the gym, logged every meal, tracked every macro and still, my body was in revolt. It felt like such a dark time.
As soon as I got to a laptop after leaving the doctor’s office, I googled “what to do when you’re first diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.”
There was little advice that felt like it applied to me and I was inspired to write about the things that helped me get through the days and months ahead. That’s where this blog started.
There is lots of hope, and here’s what you can do when you’re first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
First thing is first – being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is not your fault.
Hearing the words from your doctor that you have diabetes is not an easy moment to swallow.
What your doctor likely won’t tell you, is it’s not all your fault.
Some of this condition is dependent on lifestyle factors. If you lose weight, you can control your blood glucose. If you exercise, you’ll better manage your blood sugar.
Type 2 diabetes also happens because of genetics. Every body is different, and you didn’t choose this.
Something that I had to recognize was that I already had PCOS before I got my diabetes diagnosis, that played a big part in learning about my insulin resistance.
A lot of what I thought was my fault, was just me having to learn more about my body.
My body has some issues, and I’m not at fault for that. You are not at fault.
Next, you need to ask questions.
I can’t say this in a nicer way, but this is going to change your life, and being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes is going to shake up your world.
If you have a question for your doctor, don’t be afraid to ask it. Some of the questions I asked were:
- What does having Type 2 Diabetes mean?
- Is Type 2 Diabetes reversible, or am I stuck with it forever?
- How will I know if my blood sugar is getting better?
- Why do I need to come back to the doctor every three months?
- How many times a day should I test my blood sugar?
- Can you refer me to see any specialists like a Dietician, A Diabetes Educator or an Endocrinologist?
- Is there a special diet that I should follow?
- Are there any immediate complications of diabetes that I should be aware of?
- What do I do if I’m having a high, or low blood sugar. How do I treat it?
It’s so important to ask questions, and no question is a dumb one. Educating yourself is the best way to keep anxiety from creeping in.
When you know exactly what your body is doing, you can make good decisions about how to move forward.
Then, see a specialist.
If your doctor will refer you, I would encourage you to see a specialist. A few actually.
A dietician is going to help you evaluate what you eat, and measure that up against your blood sugar.
A diabetes educator is going to teach you the ins and outs of checking your blood sugar, logging your outcomes, and give you the tools to live day-to-day.
An endocrinologist (Endo) is going to help you make sure you’re getting the right doses of insulin and it’s actually working in your body.
Depending on your needs, any of these specialists can be helpful.
I found it to be a very comforting experience to see different specialists because they individually helped me work through areas I was struggling in.
I love my primary care doctor, but the most they’ve been able to do for me is prescribe medication and monitor my results.
The specialists were helpful for additional education, and they also had a thorough understanding of what I needed help with and answers to.
Lean on your friends and family.
It’s one of the hardest things in the world to tell your friends and family that you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.
When you say the words, just know that if they haven’t dealt with it before, they’re going to need some education and understanding.
Diabetes is so misunderstood, I believe that people with Type 2 Diabetes know that better than anyone.
This is a moment you can use to educate yourself even more.
Learn how to explain your chronic illness to others so that you’re well-prepared to answer questions as they come.
I promise you, you’ll get some crazy questions and remarks coming your way.
Your family and friends will also come to your rescue when you need it.
There have been so many times where I’ve cried to my husband out of frustration or showed my mom my blood sugar logs when things are going well.
My in-laws are also so sweet to make and make sure at every party there’s something that I can enjoy.
Your circle is one of the most important parts of this life. They will give you strength.
Find people in the community who understand you.
Some of the biggest places I found solace in upon my diagnosis were Twitter and Instagram.
Though the Type 1 diabetes community is very large, there’s a percentage of people opening up about their journey and struggles with Type 2 Diabetes.
One of my favorite chats, DSMA was so helpful in accepting my diagnosis. I was a long-time lurker before I jumped in, and everyone there has been so welcoming and open.
There are also forums all over the internet that help. Diabetes Daily and Diabetes Connect are just two of the countless places you can search through.
Take small steps to change your habits.
Find a routine that you like. Maybe it’s yoga, or walking, or running, or weightlifting. Whatever you do, do it consistently, and set the time aside for it.
Working out is going to relieve stress and help you balance your blood sugar.
Keep logging and monitoring your blood glucose every day. Don’t get discouraged when you have off-days, It will happen, but it’s okay.
They’re things that you can learn from. Get back to your routine immediately, and keep on going. You will learn to balance.
It’s also important to note that the changes to your habits have to be sustainable, or you’re not going to want to keep them up. Small changes each day really make the difference.
Write down your feelings.
If you’re crazy like me, you can start a blog, or if you want to make things more simple, keep a journal and write down how you felt before you go to bed.
It will help you sort out your feelings and it’s something you can certainly go back to when you want to figure out why some days are good, and some days aren’t.
I love my little diary and it helps so much with reflection.
You don’t have to be ashamed about being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
This is probably going to be one of the hardest things that ever happens to you in your life, but I promise you don’t have to be ashamed.
You have people to lean on.
You have the inner strength to take this day by day.
You are going to make it through this.
Type 2 Diabetes is a serious illness, but there is help, and there are resources.
I hope what you read here is helpful. These are all of the things I wish I knew when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Hey! A quick note before you start reading!
I’m Mila Clarke, The Hangry Woman! I help people like myself living with diabetes find our strength and feel less shame and loneliness, so we can face diabetes head-on without fear, or judgment.
I do this via YouTube videos, and diabetes-friendly recipes, support, and encouragement, so join my channel or click here to subscribe to my mailing list, or become a member of my Patreon for exclusive content and perks.