How to make friends as a diabetic

minute read
July 10, 2023
A group of diabetic friends, looking out over a panoramic view after a hike.
Note: Image for illustration only. It does not show the author of this story. Photo credit - Ankita Gkd.

As a 25-year-old woman with diabetes, one of my biggest challenges is making and maintaining friendships.

Because while diabetes is a medical condition, its impact extends far beyond healthcare. The social and emotional toll of the disease can be just as challenging.

The difficulties I face

A common challenge I have when trying to connect with people is finding common ground. Many of my daily activities and routines revolve around managing my diabetes. For example, I have to take medication, be careful about what I eat, and monitor my blood sugar levels regularly. This can make certain social situations, like going out for a meal, more challenging.

Sometimes, my diabetes has been used as an excuse to exclude me from social events. For example, people have assumed I can’t participate in certain activities or won’t have fun doing them because of my diabetes, so haven’t invited me – I appreciate they’re trying to be considerate, but it can be hurtful to feel like my diabetes is a social barrier.

I also have to overcome my own hesitations and doubts.

For example, I often feel like an outsider because of my diabetes. It’s hard for me to find others who understand what I’m going through or won't judge me for having a chronic condition – Diabetes unfortunately still carries many misconceptions and stigmas.

And sometimes I feel like a burden or inconvenience. Diabetes requires a lot of planning and preparation, which means I can’t be as spontaneous or ‘go-with-the-flow’ as other people. For example, I may have to check my blood sugar or take insulin at inconvenient times, which can interrupt plans or make others feel like they have to work around me – It’s a delicate balance, wanting to manage my diabetes well and at the same time not be a nuisance to others.

How I overcome these challenges

Despite my challenges, I’ve found ways to overcome them and make friends who understand and accept me.

One of my most important lessons was to be open and honest about my diabetes. I’ve found that when I share my experiences and feelings with others, they’re more likely to understand and accept me. It’s scary to be vulnerable and open in this way. But it’s worth it to build meaningful connections and friendships.

Another strategy I use is to seek out other diabetics. Talking to others who understand what it’s like to live with this condition, and who can offer support and encouragement, is incredibly comforting – And there are many online communities and support groups that can help you make these connections.

I’ve also learned to be proactive and plan social events that work for me and my diabetes. For example, when making plans to go out with friends, I’ll suggest restaurants that I know have healthy options or activities that don’t involve alcohol – by taking ownership of my social life, I feel more empowered and less like a victim of my diabetes.

Final thoughts

Diabetes doesn’t define me – And it doesn’t limit my ability to form meaningful connections with others.

While it may be more challenging to make friends as a diabetic, it’s not impossible. By being open, proactive, and seeking out others who understand, I’ve been able to build a strong network of friends who accept and support me, diabetes and all.

Graphic of a female profile picture.
Editor's note: The opinions and experiences reflected in stories from the diabetic community belong to the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InDiabetes.

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