From Chardon, Ohio, USA:
My 14-year-old daughter has had diabetes for nearly nine years. It bothers her now more than ever that she is different. She stands out in her class. It also bothers her that none of her friends know "what a low is like." I think she is tired of dealing with it. I have offered to take over as much as possible such as doing the sites, fingersticks, etc. She has declined thus far. I try to encourage her to talk about it but I think she feels there isn't much to say because we can't change the fact that she has diabetes. She is moody at times like most teens but the worst to me is that she seems sad on occasion. She could giggle for hours as a child. How can I make her feel less burdened or tell me how she feels period?
Your daughter is very lucky to have you there to support her. Taking over the daily tasks as much as possible is a lovely gift to give her as it certainly reduces some of the burden of the daily demands of life with diabetes. However, it is not doing enough, and your daughter would benefit for other sources of support as well. For example, many communities have support groups and/or fun events for teenagers with diabetes through either the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation (JDRF), or their local diabetes clinic. Please look in to those programs and encourage your daughter to attend them. In addition, going to diabetes camp is a great way to get peer support and not feel like you are the only one with diabetes. Finally, if these suggestions do not lead to improvements in her sense of being alone and burned-out, seeking the help of a psychologist or other mental health professional may be useful. Asking your child's pediatrician for recommendations for therapists who work well with teenagers who have chronic illness is often helpful, as is asking your local ADA and JDRF offices for referrals.
[Editor's comment: You should also consider attending our Friends for Life Conference in July in Orlando. There are educational and support sessions for parents, adults with diabetes, grandparents, youths with diabetes and siblings. It's not just about education and support, though, it's about forming lifelong friendships, especially for the teens, including those who are siblings. Teen sessions, ice breakers and such, are on Wednesday afternoon. If the teen attends all sessions on Thursday, he/she will get a ticket to go to Hollywood Studios on Friday (CDEs, nurses, volunteer parents go along). Many of the teen staff members also have diabetes. If you need financial assistance to attend, the Diabetes Scholars Foundation has scholarships available. BH]
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