Coping with Diabetes Complications


Living with diabetes can be emotionally challenging. Even though we manage our blood sugar on a daily basis, the thought of suffering from diabetes complications is always there. Type 2 diabetes can be prevalent even if one doesn’t recognize it’s symptoms. This means that people can live with hyperglycemia for a period of time and may not be diagnosed with diabetes until complications occur. 

Diabetes complications include:

  • Retinopathy: If left untreated, it can lead to blindness.
  • Neuropathy: Damaged nerves which can cause the loss of feeling or numbness in your hands and feet.
  • Nephropathy: Also known as kidney disease.
  • Heart Disease
  • Amputation of limbs

Coping with Complications

Though challenging, coping with diabetes complications isn’t impossible. Partnering with your health care team can help you create an individualized plan to help you slow the effects of diabetes complications. For example, you may want to ask your podiatrist to check for nerve damage in your feet or your ophthalmologist to do frequent eye exams to monitor your vision. Identifying and communicating your needs are essential. A positive patient-provider relationship can improve your quality of life. But if you’re unsure if your doctors are listening to you, look for these signs

It’s Okay to Be Open about Living with Diabetes Complications

One of the most challenging things about living with diabetes is the stigma that diabetes is “our” fault and any complications we experience is deserved. However, being open about living with diabetes complications is important to dismantling that stigma, even in our smallest of social circles. Here are some ways to start sharing your experiences:

  • Confide in others: Talk to your family and friends about the realities of experiencing diabetes-related health issues. For instance, Clarence, a Beyond Type 2 reader, talked about the heart problems he’s had while living with type 2 diabetes. In the face of those serious health issues, he confides in his wife to maintain a positive outlook on life.
  • Educate: Arming yourself with the knowledge of diabetes-related complications and teaching those who may not share your experience but can show empathy can help boost social support.
  • Try therapy:  Seeing a therapist can give you the mental and emotional relief, remove diabetes distress and focus on the positives of life.
  • Seek a Diabetes Educator: Seeking help from a diabetes educator provides removes as much of the “unknown” from living with a diabetes-related complication as possible. Diabetes care and education specialists provide the tools and assist people with diabetes to manage diabetes with and without complications on a personalized basis.

If you’re feeling depressed or distress from coping with complications, know your feelings are validated and there’s no shame in it. However, in the moments when you feel you’re ready to give up, seek ways to reduce diabetes distress from complications in your life by practicing everyday acts of self-care and confide in your support system. You’re more than your diagnosis and you’re not alone.

WRITTEN BY Mariana Gómez , POSTED 08/22/19, UPDATED 10/11/22

Mariana is a diabetes educator and a licensed psychologist specialized in narrative. In 2008, Mariana started a blog where she shares her experiences and diabetes knowledge with others and she began being an active advocate through social media. She is considered a diabetes influencer in Latin America and has participated in several conferences, events and TV shows dedicated to diabetes education in the last years. She is a proud mother of a teenager.