Heal Thy Self

By Joe Nelson | May 16, 2007 10:55 am

Today I have met with several people, some of whom have diabetes and some who don’t. When we interact, we often start by looking at the things that seem outside of the person’s power to control—things like work deadlines, anger from others, behavior of other people, or the numbers on the blood glucose meter. As the conversations continue, they provide an opportunity to identify how to manage those things outside of a person’s control. They also provide a chance to look at what can we do as individuals to heal ourselves.

I am particularly focused on this topic today because I have three presentations this week in addition to my regular client load and am suffering from some of the same situations I suggest my clients look at, such as overscheduling, becoming exhausted, not setting personal limits, and pushing myself beyond what I know is right for me. I, too, am responsible for healing myself.


It occurs to me that people who live with diabetes are always being told to do things for themselves to make living with diabetes better. Monitor blood glucose levels frequently, take your insulin or diabetes drugs on time, eat appropriately, count your carbs, see the doctor, and talk with the diabetes educator. The list goes on, possibly driving a person to the point where he thinks that this self-care is so tiring, he might want to give up.

This is what William Polonsky called “Diabetes Burnout” in his book by the same name. It is a great resource that addresses many issues that are common in people who live with diabetes. It also offers advice to help people work on these issues, but the bottom line is that it still comes back to you to do the work. It still comes back to you to seek the support you need. And it still comes back to each of us to do the things that are going to be useful to help us have the peace we want, so stress and pressure don’t take too much of a toll.

Another one of my favorite books, Heal Thy Self by Saki Santorelli, helps put this concept in perspective. He looks at a class on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and uses the examples from this class to give the reader an idea of how this practice can help him to be more in touch with what he needs. The practice can potentially help a person see diabetes in a new light as well.

Clearly, we don’t heal diabetes, but we may be able to see it differently when we actually become our own healers rather than just reacting to what others tell us to do.

Source URL: https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/heal-thy-self/

Joe Nelson: Joe is a psychotherapist in private practice in Minnesota, where he specializes in the psychology of chronic disease and sexual problems and works with couples, families, children, and teens. He has been a Licensed Psychologist since 1985 and has earned a master’s degree from St. Mary’s College Winona, a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota, and an associate’s degree in human services from the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Joe has worked with troubled youth in Chicago and Minnesota and on a special project on Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. He was the first social worker hired by an affiliate of the American Diabetes Association. He worked at the International Diabetes Center for 20 years, directing psychological services there for 12 years. A Certified Sex Therapist, Joe co-developed the Sexual Health Center at Park Nicollet Clinic.

Having practiced meditation for over 30 years, Joe offers instruction in mindfulness-based meditation to patients in groups and as individuals. Joe is married, has a 23-year-old daughter, and enjoys scuba diving, motorcycling, golf, and being outdoors doing almost anything.

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