A Little Help from My Friends: Support for the New Year

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Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are over. You have made your resolutions and now the January doldrums are threatening to  arrive.  When the stress of the holidays ends all you want to do is dive into the soft, giving cushions of your couch and stay put. But diabetes doesn’t allow hibernation. This is why, sometimes, a body needs a bit of extra support. And it is great if that support can come from those close to you.

But sometimes that just isn’t possible, or the people closest to you are the ones causing the heightened tension.  That is when a support group, telephone support network or even an on-line support club, geared to people with diabetes, can come to the rescue.

Support groups are great because they are drawn from a community of your peers who are going through or have gone through some of the same issues you are grappling with. Members of the support group can not only empathize with your situation, but also offer insight and suggestions on how to lower the heat about whatever circumstance you find yourself in. They can also provide great tips and helpful hints on managing everything from carb counting to find the most stylish pair of “diabetic shoes.”

Of course if you happen to be in the Boston area, the Joslin Diabetes Center offer a support group for young adults with type1 diabetes facilitated by Jess Markowitz,  PhD, Clinical psychologist  in Pediatrics.    And you can use our on-line discussion boards anywhere in the world! There, you can get answers for questions from people of all ages with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

One place you can start to find support groups in your area is your local hospital. Large regional hospitals are especially likely to have the resources to offer an in-person diabetes support group.  If yours doesn’t, ask your endocrinologist if it is possible to start one.

In addition, many insurance providers and large employers have begun to establish everything from case managers to support groups to help their members stay out of the hospital. Check with the member services department of your insurer or the employee assistance service in your human resource department. They may have or know of a support group in your area.

Another place to look on-line is the American Diabetes Association web site. To find a list of support groups in your state simple use the search function and type support groups and the state you live in. The search will return a listing of both support groups both in person and on-line and medical facilities with diabetes programs.  In addition, the ADA offers on-line forums where you can discuss any issue you are having.

For the child or teenager with diabetes, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has an on-line support group available.  The local chapters of JDRF also hold in person support groups for both parents and children, catering to their distinct needs.

And Children with Diabetes provides on-line help for both children with diabetes and their parents.

Glu is an online diabetes community for those with type 1 diabetes. It provides both information and research about diabetes as well as connections with other people.

College students with diabetes can check out the College Diabetes Network which lists colleges having in-person chapters as well as being an on-line community of college students with type 1 diabetes.

For those with type 2 diabetes there is the Daily Strength or MDJunction which offers on-line support groups for a variety of medical problems.

Those on pumps also sometimes need a little help.  There are many in person and on-line support groups for those on pumps. Googling pumper groups in your state will usually yield a rich selection. One such national site is Insulin Pumpers.

For all the help support groups can provide, they do not replace the services of a mental health professional. If your needs are beyond what can be provided by people in the same situation, it may be may be time to contact your health care provider.

This article was originally posted on Jan. 1, 2014

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