When it comes down to it there is a definite need for self-reliance and self-management when it comes to any challenge in life. However, the conundrum is that we are social animals and live in an extremely social society, which makes it difficult to draw that line of what one should do completely by oneself and what one should ask others for help with.
When it comes to managing a disease such as Type 1 Diabetes, the situation is extremely complicated due to a natural desire to get help from others contrasted with the absolute necessity to completely understand one’s own condition and be able to handle any situation as it comes. I personally think that while a sufficient sense of self-reliance to the point of knowing how to deal with any situation is required just in case, for the day to day dealings it is necessary to at least partially rely on others for support and the occasional guidance.
The first place to turn when it comes to disease is naturally doctors. Doctors are helpful as a resource, and it is important to communicate well with them, asking questions, and getting feedback on how well you are doing. But doctors cannot always be there, and should not need to be as long as a commensurate information is given to the patient and understood. Therefore, if any reliance on others is to be pursued it has to be elsewhere.
So what is left? Friends and family. Friends and family are around the majority of the time and are generally more than willing to help. The first step is obviously letting others in on the fact that you have Type 1 Diabetes. But once that is over, assuming they are not doctors, what can others offer? Primarily support. But not just the “Keep at is bud!” or “Great job!” type of support. Rather, what has been much more helpful for me has been the support that shows genuine interest and reminds me of what is important. For example people asking me about why I’m eating a high carb muffin or juice. Yes, I may be low, in which case I explain that, but maybe I’m just not really thinking about it.
By no means should one rely on one’s friend to constantly question his or her actions and make sure they are right. However, as much as one may try to follow the mantra of “Stop. Breath in. Breath out.” there can still be momentary slips that aren’t realized until later (or not at all!). And it is those times that complete independence really needs to be set aside and others need to be allowed to help.