As a teen, life can be hard enough just trying to fit in with our peers. Peer pressure, popularity, school work, and relationships, these are common concerns of teenagers, yet teens with diabetes have extra concerns – the glucose levels, administering daily injections, staying fit, and staying on a special diet.
During the day, we are faced with tough choices, and we have to learn how to be responsible and make compromises in ways that our peers do not.The sexual and emotional changes of our teenage years will present us with unique challenges, more-so as we have diabetes; we may feel rebellious, want to deny that we have diabetes, and even feel like not following our treatment plan just so that we “fit in.” But it is important to keep on top of things.
Blood glucose control gets even harder in our teen years—especially for girls around the time of their menstrual periods—perhaps because hormones produced during these years negatively affect insulin usage. Even you try your very best to maintain your blood glucose levels, you may still find it fluctuate and swing erratically during this time.
In addition, having diabetes and injecting insulin can make us feel different and have a negative effect on our self-image and self-esteem, which are fragile enough during this time. A teenager with a chronic disease is often pulled in opposite directions. On one hand, we must take care of our diabetes, which requires support from parents and doctors; on the other hand, we have the need to be independent, and interact with our friends.
Information, resources, and support are sufficient and readily available today, we do not have to feel alone and in the dark; and we do not have to feel overwhelmed or “different.” The internet can be a great place to find the latest information on treatment options and read stories of how other teens deal with diabetes. If we can read and listen to other diabetic teens’ experiences, it will help us feel that what we’re going through is more “normal”, and we won’t feel so alone. It isn’t easy – but we’ll learn how to deal with everything in time, if we have the support of our friends and family.