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How to accept a diabetes diagnosis

Learning to accept a diabetes diagnosis is a big task… We asked our South African diabetes community for their best advice – here it is.

how to accept a diabetes diagnosis

A diabetes diagnosis doesn’t define you

It is very tough, but don’t think of it as a death sentence or something that defines you. I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 6, so I’ve learnt to deal with it my whole life. My family, however, had to learn to accept it. It is a lifestyle change, but you can live a healthy, normal life with the added part of correcting your sugar levels with medication and exercise (manually doing what your pancreas should be doing).

I’m 26 now and finishing off my Masters degree. I’ve just completed a 21km trail hike and I’ve climbed Lion’s Head twice (planning Table Mountain soon). The key is – don’t let it define you. Think of it as “diabetes is living with me – I’m not living with it.”

You’ll get through it!


Take it very seriously. I ignored it, now very difficult to achieve healthy levels and therefore needing more and more medication…


Accept a diabetes diagnosis practically

Try writing down everything you eat. Make a spreadsheet and at the top of each column put your blood sugar amount in for the morning, followed by what you eat that day, then save it and you can watch how you do in a week. I know it helps me to stay steady


I also have Diabetes Type 2 and really it is not hard to accept that you have a chronic disease. The diagnosis was initially a shock. I modified my diet immediately and first off the list were all fizzy drinks and chocolates. I took the medication twice a day and now it is under control. I also lost weight from 83kg to 54kg. Now I can indulge in the odd bar of chocolate, but no fizzy drinks at all, not even a Zero Coke. Water or Rooibos tea.


I’ve found this was a blessing in disguise. It forced me into exercising again and eating very healthily. Even though it may feel like a curse, it really is an opportunity to turn your life around


Struggling to accept a diabetes diagnosis

I don’t think I ever accepted it and I don’t think I ever will. It’s now been 37 years. Accepting it for me means you are okay with having it, and I am not. I used to fight it every step of the way. Eventually I just decided that I have it, it’s not going to go away, so I have it for the long run but I won’t let it over run my life. Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, but I won’t accept it.


I wish I could offer advice. It’s been 9 years for me, and I thought I had accepted it, but I don’t think I really have.


I am still struggling to accept too and worse I am a healthcare worker.


Eish, wish I can explain, but from the first day I found out I was diabetic my worst nightmare till now.


I haven’t accepted my diabetes, I feel angry and irritated knowing I can’t have my sweet treats. I love cake and I used to have a dessert every night, now I can’t. No sweet drinks, milkshakes, chocolate bars. We didn’t ask for diabetes! It’s a very difficult diagnosis to accept. Not even a psychologist could help ease me into it.


It took me 12 years, psychiatric ward, anxiety medication and depression meds, and medical comas to finally accept my diagnosis. It’s not easy, more especially when you were used to a certain lifestyle or when you were still young like myself – still in primary with kids who looked at you differently. I won’t say it’s easy it’s NOT 💔

accept a diabetes diagnosis

Slowly finding acceptance

Well I feel I went through all the stages that people go through in a death. 10 years later and I do more extreme things in my life than I think I ever would have without Type 1 diabetes. It makes me want to be better, try harder and challenge myself constantly.

It’s also about the research you do for yourself. Plus having a great support system around you will help too. Don’t give up, the help, food and information around now makes life much more possible with this condition! You can figure it out one day at a time! That’s all anyone can really do!


I don’t think I had time to accept it, it’s more like I had to move on up quick and save my life. Does it mean I have accepted? No, but I had to wake up every day and choose to save my life. The fear of going blind and amputation made me make the right choices.


Making it part of the daily routine

It’s just an adjustment. I accept that I have to brush my teeth so insulin is just part of my daily routine. Eating healthier has been the advantage. I was a long distance walker before the diabetes so was able to keep my blood sugar under control with just exercise and diet so I already had a good reason to eat healthy, which made it easier to accept the lifestyle. Good luck everyone.


My view is to apply kindness and compassion and think of your pancreas as needing help like you would help others. Some people cannot help what has happened to them, but it doesn’t mean you have to lambast yourself. Good luck 🙏


Every day is different. Take it one day at a time


32.5 years later, I am happy and have never been healthier. All thanks to excess reading, learning, education and applying them all to my daily life.


Have you accepted your diagnosis? Do you have any tips to share?

Photo by Carlos Arthur and freestocks on Unsplash

What to read next?

How to help during diabetes burnout: Diabetes burnout is unavoidable, when you’re living with diabetes. But how can you help during diabetes burnout? What can you offer someone you love who is struggling?

Diabetes and mental health: a video: We know that diabetes and mental health is a big issue for many people. Watch this video to hear Daniel Sher, clinical psychologist and Type 1 diabetic answer question about mental health.

Join this mental health support group for young adults living with diabetes: SADAG recently launched a new support group for young adults living with diabetes. We had a chat with one of their co-facilitators, Courtney Sandham, to find out more.

What to read next
Join South Africans with Diabetes on Facebook

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  1. […] Keegan: Research as much as you can and try to understand the do’s and don’ts. Have a good support structure that forces you to stay on track. I also end up in hospital quite a bit because of my DKA and I really do get violently ill, so what helps me is to remember that I don’t want to go through that again. Learn how to manage your stress and anxiety as I get affected by that quite often. I can’t really give advice on this as I still haven’t really come to terms with my diagnosis yet. […]

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.