Many people, when they are first diagnosed with diabetes, experience the "Why me?" syndrome. It's a common reaction. Whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes doesn't matter. Whether you're a man or a woman doesn't matter. Mature teens and adults may ask "Why me?" and feel angry that life is so unfair to them. Or they may wonder if they are being "punished" by God. If you think this way, it can leave you feeling alone and isolated with your illness.
How can you overcome the "Why me?" syndrome?
It is important to change the way you think about the situation – to put it into perspective. I personally never felt devastated when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1975. I've told this story in my book: MY SWEET LIFE: Successful Women with Diabetes. My own reaction to the diabetes diagnosis was partly shaped by the fact that, at the same time as I underwent my five-hour glucose tolerance test, my mother had a student in one of her classes who was also ill, and, like me, went in for medical tests. When my mother's student's diagnosis came back as a brain tumor, it put my illness in perspective. I was grateful to have diabetes. Mine was a disease that I could live with!
The reality of life is that it is not fair. Overcoming the "Why me?" syndrome is to accept that idea. Feeling that you should get through life without problems is unrealistic thinking. Instead of taking the attitude of a victim, change your thought to be one of a survivor. Take your diagnosis as a life challenge and say "Why not me?"
Asking the question "Why me?" does not change the reality of how things are. As you accept your diagnosis and change your attitude you can see it as an opportunity to learn and make the best of your situation. I personally see diabetes as a "blessing in disguise." Diabetes is an illness that I can live with and can manage. Today, we are lucky to have so many innovative tools at our disposal to help us manage our diabetes easier and more effectively than ever before. I take care of myself, and it's the basis for my career. My journey with diabetes led me to my specialty of treating the emotional issues of patients with diabetes, as a Clinical Psychologist, Certified Diabetes Educator, author and speaker. In that way, I'm happy to have diabetes.
One of the contributing writers to my women's book said she found that the most helpful thing you can do is to adopt a matter-of-fact attitude. She said that having a positive attitude made all the difference. She concluded by stating that having diabetes for more than 70 years has not kept her from having a good life!
When you put your diagnosis in perspective (like I did), you can turn around the "Why me?" syndrome. Once you accept your diabetes, you can stop wasting energy being angry at it and channel the energy towards managing your condition. Once you accept your diabetes, you need to accept responsibility for making your own choices. Your goal is to feel empowered to take control of your life. You can not only survive with diabetes, but you can thrive with diabetes!