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Friends, Family And Feelings

Written and created by Aetna InteliHealth, with medical review by Aetna pediatrician Richard Rosen, M.D.


Diabetes makes your life more complicated. You already knew that. Maybe you've felt bitter, fearful or angry about it. Most kids feel better after living with diabetes for a while. Still, emotions are part of you, and it's important to know how to deal with them.

Here's some advice that may help:

  • Keep in mind that feelings are normal, and most of them pass or change with time.
  • Consider talking about your feelings with someone you trust.
  • If you'd like to talk to someone who also has diabetes, try a support group or pen pal. Ask your doctor, diabetes educator or local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) for help.
  • If you feel really sad, hopeless, distracted or tired for two weeks or longer, tell your parents, a teacher or a counselor.

Some kids with diabetes feel different and uncomfortable at first. Or maybe they just don't know how to explain diabetes to their friends.

You may want to tell everyone – or only the people who really need to know.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) offers this advice for figuring out who's who:

  • People who need to know — This includes your teachers, coaches, teammates and close friends. Why? You may need their help if you have low blood sugar and your parents aren't around. Don't keep your diabetes secret when your safety is at stake.
  • Everyone else — Maybe you'll want to tell other friends or curious classmates. It's up to you.

Do you wonder what to say about your diabetes? The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has some suggestions.

First, talk about people's fears, the ADA says. Tell them:

  1. Diabetes is not contagious. You can't catch diabetes from a friend.
  2. You expect to live a good long life. Diabetes doesn't mean you're
    going to die.
  3. You did not get diabetes because you ate too much sugar or Halloween candy, or drank too much soda.

Here are some other things you can say (adapted from the ADA):

  • "I have diabetes. To take care of my diabetes, I eat at certain times, check my blood sugar and take insulin shots. Doing these things keeps me healthy!"
  • "Can you wait a few minutes? I need to eat a snack before I go out and play. Do you want a snack, too?"
  • "If I ever start acting confused, I may need to eat something. I usually carry glucose tablets in my backpack. It would help me a lot if you remind me to eat one when you see me acting confused or if I look sick."

Friends who know about your diabetes can be an important support for you. Of course, a true friend will want you to be healthy and won't push you to do things you shouldn't do.

Last updated January 25, 2010