Last night I met with author and diabetes psychology expert Dr. William Polonsky and learned about a new project he’s developing that might be the very first study ever focusing on some Good News about diabetes and motivation. But before I dive in, let me reach out and give you all a Giant Virtual Hug for your fabulous feedback on my D-Blog Day post! I am totally blown away at the thought of all you fascinating people — each with his/her own D-experience — meeting here to read what’s up at the DiabetesMine. (If you haven’t responded get, please do; the polls are still open…)
You all confirmed my faith that I’m not peddling twinkies here… so it is indeed worth every bit of the (unpaid) time and effort invested. Do me one more favor, then, and keep talking to me!!
So, onward: Dr. Polonsky’s bailiwick is Quality of Life issues surrounding diabetes. He helps patients with motivation and state-of-mind. He notes that the patients who do best are the optimistic ones — not because they are by nature “happy,” but because optimism is really a problem-solving approach. When a bad thing happens to an optimistic person, that person feels empowered to do something about it. Pessimists, on the other hand, do not feel empowered, and compound the problem by telling themselves: “this will always happen to me.”
Nevertheless, Dr. P discovered in his hundreds of patient interactions that even many patients who did not take immediate control of their diabetes or who let their control lapse later experienced a moment in which “something clicked.” Their view of diabetes suddenly shifted and they began to take back control of their health.
He wrote about this phenomenon previously in Diabetes Forecast, asking readers to share their stories. Had they ever given up on diabetes control, only to have something “click” that led them back to better control? A number of themes emerged, most important of which was an important change in the person’s social situation, like having a new partner or a new child. Not surprising. But for some people it was an unexpected personal epiphany, like this story:
* A Type 1 diagnosed as a teen, was always angry and felt like “damaged goods” with his disease. One day at college he’s joking around with his dorm buddies and discussing the benefits of manual transmission cars vs. automatic. Suddenly it dawns on him that he’s got a “manual pancreas.” He’s not damaged, he’s just wired differently! From that day on, he is able to accept his diabetes and take care of himself much better.
The point I’m getting to is that Dr. Polonsky wants to launch a full-scale study of the “Something Clicked” phenomenon sometime next year. “This is great, because this is actually good news!” he bubbles. He’s already looking for participants with “clicked” stories to share. So if you’re one who’s had such a revelation, you can visit him at the Behavioral Diabetes Institute web site.
I’ve always figured that when bad things happen to me, I can laugh or I can cry. In the case of the Big D, I choose to laugh. Nice to know there’s at least one prominent researcher out there looking into “how to bottle the good stuff.”