Grief, A Necessary Part of Accepting Diabetes

Michelle Sorensen | December 18, 2012

I don’t remember the first time I had to inject myself with a needle. I don’t remember being taught how to test my blood sugar. But I have many memories of being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In retrospect, the day of my diagnosis was the beginning of a long process of grieving my diabetes. At the time, however, I had no idea that being diagnosed with a chronic illness would involve a grieving process.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross famously outlined the stages of grief in her 1969 book called On Death and Dying. She described five stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) that describe a process by which people deal with grief and tragedy. Many people think of the stages of grief as just relating to loss of a loved one. These stages, however, apply to many types of loss, including divorce, job loss, dealing with terminal illness, or the diagnosis of a life-changing and life-threatening disease like diabetes. The stages are not in a consistent order and people may go back and forth between different stages. Also, not everyone experiences all the stages. The way each person experiences grief is unique.

On the day I was [...] continue the story

Psychological Support: The Missing Piece in Diabetes Care

Michelle Sorensen | November 13, 2012

When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1999, I was both overwhelmed with information and desperate to find more information. It was easy to find depressing facts about the immediate dangers I would face, as well as the future complications I might suffer one day. When I looked for more, however, something about support or about real people living with type 1, there was nothing more than information about fundraising and camps for kids with diabetes.

I was in the middle of graduate school at the time of my diagnosis, training to be a psychologist. In the years since, while learning to manage my diabetes, I have furthered my knowledge about how to help others with diabetes make changes and feel better. I learned quickly that the psychological aspect of diabetes care is mostly absent in the diabetes field. Patients had access to information, but they didn’t have support.

Eventually, I began to counsel people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Using cognitive behavioral therapy, I have tried to help my clients learn how to change the way they think, so that they can change the way they feel and behave. In recent [...] continue the story