New Book Alert! “Diabetes Sucks and You Can Handle it” by Dr. Mark Heyman
Having lived with type 1 diabetes for 23 years, Dr. Mark Heyman, PhD, certified diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES) is no stranger to the ups and downs of type 1 diabetes (T1D). Now, he is proving that two things can be true when it comes to diabetes management:
Diabetes sucks. And you can handle it.
In fact, that happens to be the name of his new book, released on April 19, 2022.
The inspiration behind the writing
“Diabetes Sucks AND You Can Handle It” explores the balance of acknowledging, sitting with, and working through your emotions connected to the hardships of diabetes. It takes a very real and honest look at why certain feelings come up around T1D management and how to best navigate them in a way that honors each individual person with T1D’s experience.
“I have had plenty of challenges with blood sugars and anxiety and burnout,” Mark says. “But to know that I could do it and that I could handle it really set me up for what I want to do with my work, but also for the book, of knowing that yeah, diabetes is challenging, but I can handle it and so can you.”
Mark’s career as a psychologist includes working with patients as well as public speaking, and even hosting a podcast centered around mental health and diabetes.
He has been practicing psychology for 13 years and has always been interested in diabetes psychology, but it wasn’t always the plan.
The target audience
“When I was applying to graduate school many years ago, I don’t think I really knew that I wanted to do diabetes psychology, but I needed a story,” Mark says. “Diabetes seemed like a good story to tell to get into graduate school, because it’s pretty competitive. And so I told that story, and then it became kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I made that story true because I found there’s a need for people with diabetes to have mental healthcare.”
For Mark, the idea behind writing a book was based on the knowledge that there are people all over the world living with diabetes who need mental health support, but perhaps not in the form of standard one-on-one, in-person sessions.
“I hope that this book fits into that spectrum of care and support that people need,” Mark says, “Because I think that a lot of the stuff, they’re tools and they’re skills that we learn on an ongoing basis, and so the book really gives people those skills and tools in a concrete way.”
Step by step
Mark’s new book is laid out in different parts. The first: recognizing that diabetes does indeed “suck,” and how that fact presents itself for you. The next part of this journey that Mark takes care to highlight is that sometimes we unintentionally make diabetes suck more than it has to, simply from telling ourselves certain stories that may not be true.
“When we do that, we’re not being honest with ourselves about the reality of diabetes,” Mark says. “We’re actually exaggerating the challenges.”
The next part of the book focuses on what you can realistically do to make your diabetes management easier, and to understand the challenges on a deeper level.
“You can’t handle something that you don’t understand,” Mark says.
The final two parts of Mark’s book hone in on taking action, putting your new diabetes management tools into practice and maybe even doing the things that scare you. It also includes what to do in situations that can be very scary, such as ending up in the hospital with a severe low blood sugar.
Incorporating real experiences
Along with practical guidance and exercises to guide you along on your T1D management journey, Mark weaves real experiences into the narrative.
“I really want to integrate my own story throughout the book,” Mark says, “As well as integrate stories of people that I’ve met, in an anonymized way.”
Mark pulled from patients’ and acquaintances’ experiences as it related to each challenge that the book touches on.
“I wanted to give people some concrete examples and make them feel like they’re not alone,” Mark adds.
The title of “Diabetes Sucks AND You Can Handle It” came about for Mark in a very organic way.
“About a year ago exactly, I was seeing a patient in my office and he said to me, ‘Diabetes really sucks right now,’” Mark says. “And my response to him was, ‘I know it sucks, but you can handle it.’ Then I corrected myself and I intentionally said, ‘Not but… and you can handle it.’ I thought, when he left my office that day, ‘That’s my book.’”
“Diabetes Sucks AND You Can Handle It” by Dr. Mark Heyman is available to order on Amazon or at www.thediabetespsychologist.com/book.