An opportunity to develop resilience

Rosemary Flynn enlightens us as to why having diabetes is an opportunity to develop resilience.

When you have a medical problem, you usually go to a doctor to have the problem solved. With diabetes, the doctor cannot ‘solve’ the problem. He/she can give you medication and advice on living with diabetes to keep you going, but because there is no cure, taking care of diabetes falls to you.

Good diabetes control depends on a healthy psychological environment. You have diabetes, but the family has diabetes too, whether it is a marriage or partnership, with or without children, grandparents or extended family. Research has shown that families play a key role in how well people with diabetes adjust to their condition, integrate it into their lives, and manage it well.

But as far as you are concerned, you need a good attitude towards your diabetes and you need to develop resilience. Resilience is an important part of the process of learning to adapt to life with a chronic condition.

What is resilience?

It is the courage to come back after a stressful situation has arisen. It is the capacity to respond positively to adverse situations. It is the ability to learn from your experiences and a capacity to be adaptable.

You can develop resilience when you have diabetes. If you already have some resilience because you have had to deal with many other stressful events, it will become even better as you deal with the daily management of diabetes and you will be stronger for it.

There are many opportunities for personal growth, higher emotional intelligence and maturity because you have diabetes.

Things you can learn from diabetes:

  • You can learn to think – when your blood glucose levels surprise you, you have to think about what gave you a higher or lower level than you expected.
  • You can learn to handle the unpredictability of those blood fluctuations.
  • You can learn perseverance through thick and thin.
  • You can develop more empathy and compassion for others who are going through stressful situations.
  • You can develop a greater sense of purpose and meaning.
  • You can develop a greater appreciation of life itself, as you work on controlling your diabetes to keep your body as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

There are negative things that you have to deal with when you have diabetes, but if you choose to tackle your diabetes with effort and energy and strive to succeed, you can live with a sense of purpose and commitment to life which will make you feel positive and fulfilled.

MEET OUR EXPERT - Rosemary Flynn

Rosemary Flynn
Rosemary Flynn is a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Diabetes in Johannesburg. She has worked with children, families and adults with diabetes for 24 years, enabling them to overcome their anxieties about their condition and to deal with the difficult events in their lives.