Today, more and more people with diabetes are celebrating their “dia-versary”, or the anniversary of their diabetes diagnosis. At first, it may seem unusual to commemorate the day that marks the beginning of a disease, but there are plenty of positive mental health benefits to celebrating a dia-versary. It can be a time of reflection for people with diabetes to look back on all the accomplishments they have achieved, and take pride in managing their diabetes every day.
We spoke with Erin Kelly, RN, BSN, Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) in the Adult Clinic at Joslin Diabetes Center and Lydia Lorang, Child Life Specialist in Joslin Pediatrics, for some insight on how celebrating the occasion can be beneficial for people with diabetes and their loved ones.
For people who are approaching their first dia-versary, both Kelly and Lorang agree that honoring the date is a great way to acknowledge how far you have come in just one year.
“It is a life changing event when you find out that you or your child has diabetes,” says Lorang. “You are essentially forced to find a ‘new normal.’ Commemorating a diagnosis date is a way to remember how far they have come.” Whether it’s your first anniversary or a bigger milestone year, remembering a dia-versary can improve your mental health and perspective on diabetes. “There are certainly days and weeks where people may feel burned out or discouraged by their diabetes management,” remarks Kelly. “It’s important to realize how much hard work you do every day.”
Diabetes does not just affect one person; it can affect an entire family and loved ones. A dia-versary is not just for a person with diabetes either.
“For parents of a child with diabetes, they may want to take time during the day to get together with their partner or a family member to reflect on how they were able to lean on each other and get through the year together,” suggests Kelly. Anyone who has been a supporter to a person’s diabetes care management can participate in a dia-versary. Including parents, siblings, relatives, friends, teacher, or even a boss in dia-versary festivities is a good way to say thank you for their help over the past year.
There are countless ways to celebrate a dia-versary, from throwing a party to treating yourself to a new outfit. “People might want to try or do something that they didn’t think was possible or manageable after their diagnosis,” Kelly recommends. This may include going on a trip that you never thought you’d be able to take, or even having a certain food that you thought you couldn’t eat. Going on an outing or getting your loved ones together for dinner is another great way to honor your accomplishments. Lorang adds that no matter how each family decides to celebrate, a dia-versary is about stopping for a moment to reflect on all of the obstacles one has had to overcome in coping with diabetes
A dia-versary does not have to be celebrated with a party, of course. There are other ways to more quietly reflect on the date.
“If someone wanted to do something smaller, they could reward themselves with something like a new medical alert bracelet, or write down their accomplishments in a journal,” says Kelly. “Meeting up with your doctor and celebrating your achievements in your care is another way to encourage positive thoughts on a dia-versary.”
Lorang mentions that not everyone wants to make a big deal about a dia-versary, and that is okay. “Each person and family is unique, and no matter how big or small a celebration is, to be able to pause and realize the hurdles and challenges that one has overcome is what’s important.”