Dear Dr. Arzinda,
I am an 18 year old girl having type 1 diabetes for the last 10 years. I have been managing my diabetes effectively but recently I have started feeling depressed. As I know my diabetes will never go away and I have to use insulin injections for life. This is not a problem for me. What is hurting me is people’s attitude. In school I never told my friends about diabetes, but now I’m in college and applying for internship. Now I have to spend more time out of home so I usually eat lunch outside and people make strange faces when they see me inject insulin or follow my meal plan. I don’t have any close friends, I feel isolated. I study in co-education, and I have a fear that no boy would like to have friendship with me as I have diabetes. When I think of marriage I’m scared that no one will accept me as wife or daughter-in-law, people assume that diabetic girl cannot become a mother so they reject my proposal. I have a fear of rejection. Please guide me how to carry on a relationship not hindered by my diabetes.
I can very well understand your feelings. At this tender age when hormones are raging and you see other people’s relationships blossoming around you. You want to be part of the normal clan but your diabetes is stopping you. In fact it is not diabetes that is stopping you; it is your false fear regarding diabetes that is making you feel rejected. You were diagnosed when you were 8 years old, at that time you must have experienced fear, anger, and shame and gradually you overcame those feelings with the support of your parents and family. Earlier you were getting a lot of attention at home due to diabetes, you always got pampered. But you were never strong enough to share your diagnosis in school. Now at the age of 18 you are entering a new phase of your life and once again the feelings of guilt and shame have resurfaced. You need to tackle these feelings professionally and effectively so that they don’t hurt your psychological well being.
You need to be emotionally strong and know the real facts about your disease yourself first of all. People have lot of misconceptions about diabetes. If you have a clear mind, only then you can approach other people confidently. Think of the last ten years….were you any different than other kids in school, you were eating same food, playing same sports, getting good grades in exams…..was diabetes causing hurdles in your academics. If you were managing your diabetes well, then I’m sure you were better than your class fellows in studies and health. Because with diabetes you get a certain discipline in life and you automatically get more organized in all your daily activities. Occasional hypoglycemia or seasonal illnesses may have bothered you sometimes but soon you could get back on track. Now this new phase of marriage proposals and relationship is making you mentally stressed. This stress will disturb your blood glucose control. To manage this you must have very clear concepts about diabetes and getting married. If you yourself are in doubt how can you convince others? So first of all you should know that diabetes does not hinder relationships….there are a lot of type 1 diabetic women who have married and borne children successfully. As long as your HbA1c is normal, you are equal to any non-diabetic person.
It is never a good idea to hide your illness from the prospective in laws, because it will create problems for you when they find out later. Be very clear and truthful from the beginning. If they have any problem with diabetes, it is better not to marry with that person, wait for the right person who is sensible enough to understand the situation and willing to take your responsibility with a happy heart. The purpose of marriage is not to make life more stressful for you. So make the right decision. Your life partner or spouse should have proper information about diabetes before-hand. The most commonly faced emergency in diabetics is hypoglycemia, your partner should be able to identify symptoms of hypoglycemia and should know how to treat hypo. Pregnancy with diabetes is difficult because you have to monitor blood sugar carefully, keep a close watch on baby’s growth and mother’s blood sugar. But with all the latest advances in the field of medicine, a large number of diabetic women become mothers now.
So go ahead and enjoy life. Don’t take too much stress. Feel confident that you can achieve all your goals despite diabetes. Wait for the right person in your life. Don’t feel rejected by un-informed people. In fact you should yourself reject the person who does not understand your disease.
Best of luck for your future.
Dr. Arzinda Fatima