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Living with diabetes 

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Being diagnosed with diabetes, or knowing someone who is diagnosed with the condition, may throw up many questions about how it fits into your daily life, from how it makes you feel to managing diabetes at work or whilst you are driving.

Sometimes it feels overwhelming – this is quite normal.

Your emotions

One of the most difficult things to come to terms with is that diabetes is for life. In the weeks and months after being diagnosed with diabetes, emotions are often pushed to one side as you try to get to grips with new treatments and changing your lifestyle.

Everyone reacts differently when they hear the news. You may be overwhelmed, shocked, afraid, angry and anxious. Some people go through a stage very similar to mourning – as though they are grieving for lost health. Some people hide these feelings but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are coping without difficulty. Over time, it is likely that you will become more confident in your ability to cope with everyday activities and the initial turmoil you may have felt should start to fade.

Your healthcare team is there to give you emotional support, reassurance and help you to build your confidence in coping with diabetes. If you, your family, or friends are concerned about any aspect of diabetes, your healthcare team would rather know about it. If the worry is groundless, then you can be reassured. If it has some cause then action can be taken.

People respond in different ways to being diagnosed with diabetes – some to the extent that they feel like hiding it from everyone. You may feel embarrassed and uncertain about how they will react, but letting people know can mean that you receive more support and understanding.

Family and friends may be among the first people you tell and like most people they probably know little about diabetes – but are keen to know more.

If you live alone, telling your neighbours about your diabetes may make you feel safer, especially if you are older or at risk of having hypos. A simple explanation to your housemate may help their understanding too.

If you are taking part in sport or physical activity it is sensible to tell the person who is leading the activity in case any problems arise.

There is no legal requirement to tell your employer that you have diabetes but by doing so it will probably make it easier to arrange clinic appointments. Telling your workmates may help them understand why you need to stop for a few minutes and do a blood test or treat a hypo, for example. Sometimes people face discrimination at work because of their diabetes but accentuate the positive – having diabetes now means that you are trying to lead a healthy lifestyle and that you will have a thorough medical check-up every year.