How to Get Over the Fear of Insulin Injections


 

Editor’s Note: People who take insulin require consistently affordable and predictable sources of insulin at all times. If you or a loved one are struggling to afford or access insulin, visit GetInsulin.org


When you’re first diagnosed with diabetes, one of the first things they may show you is how to inject insulin. The needles, syringes and vials and pens can all be very overwhelming in the beginning. Know that you’re not alone! Many people fear needles, and injecting insulin may be very difficult to do.

Why do I need insulin?

Several types of diabetes require insulin therapy. Whether your body doesn’t make insulin at all, doesn’t make enough, or produces some insulin that doesn’t quite work, giving yourself insulin injections may be the best way of keeping your blood sugar levels and A1c in the target range. 

Remember, starting insulin therapy does not mean you “failed” or that you didn’t do “enough” exercising or dieting. There may come the point where your body doesn’t work properly inside without a little help from you on the outside. Insulin is just another tool to help your body work the best it can to feel and live your best. 

But the fact that you may need insulin injections doesn’t necessarily make it easier mentally. Here are some tips on how to overcome the fear of insulin injections so that you can live your best life with diabetes.

Ask for help

Whether you’ve had diabetes for years or were recently diagnosed, injecting insulin can be scary at any point! If you are afraid of giving yourself insulin injections, you can always ask for help. Many people have their parents, siblings, significant others or roommates help with their injections. 

If you live alone or have no one close to you when experiencing insulin injection fears, some resources can help. 

Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for help when you have this fear, either! They should be more than willing to assist you in overcoming this fear. There’s no shame in asking for help, and having someone there with you can help make it feel less scary over time.

Give it time

Doing anything for the first time can be scary! It is normal to be afraid of the unknowns, but much like starting a new hobby—it takes time to get comfortable with it and feel good about it! Show yourself some grace as you learn and try.

Getting over a fear of injecting insulin likely won’t happen overnight. It may take several weeks or months of daily injections to feel routine and comfortable.

One way to get closer to feeling comfortable is by practicing on an orange! Get used to the hand motion of injecting insulin into your own body by using this trick. When practicing, fill the syringe with water from a cup or fill it with air. Don’t waste your insulin on an orange! This method is excellent for adults and kids to practice. You can also ask to see a diabetes educator to practice injections with.

Try a different insulin delivery method

If you don’t like syringes and vials, don’t worry! There are other options available for insulin delivery that you may be able to choose from based on your insurance and the type of insulin you use. 

Insulin delivery methods include:

  • Syringes
  • Pens
  • Pods
  • Pumps
  • Inhaled insulin
  • Disposable insulin patches

Talk to your doctor if you’d prefer to explore a different insulin delivery method and want to learn more about what’s available to you.

Talk about it

The moment you share that you have a fear of insulin injections, you’re sure to get a huge wave of support from other people with diabetes who have had a similar experience. You really are not alone! Many people with diabetes can relate, and your fear is nothing to be ashamed of.

Talking about your fear of insulin injections with family and friends can also help to make it feel less scary. Because these tips aren’t tailored to individual experiences, talk with your diabetes peers to learn how they overcame this same fear. While this fear isn’t uncommon, everyone experiences and overcomes it differently—and that’s okay!

You can also talk it out with a therapist or counselor. Diabetes management is a never-ending, full-time job that can lead to burnout. Adding a fear of injections on top of that can be too much for some. Therapy can help you overcome your fears and make the daily weight of managing diabetes a bit easier.

Do it afraid anyways

Living with diabetes will teach you that you are more capable and stronger than you thought you were. Many people with diabetes get over their fears of injections with time because they don’t have any other choice, so they do it afraid, anyways. 

Diabetes isn’t your weakness—it’s your superpower!

You make so many brave choices every day living with diabetes. Anytime you doubt yourself, remember you got this! Remember how far you’ve come and look forward to how far you are going.


Educational content related to insulin use is made possible with support from ​Lilly. ​Editorial control rests solely on Beyond Type 1.

 

WRITTEN BY Liz Cambron-Kopco, POSTED 05/12/22, UPDATED 05/12/22

Liz has been living with type 2 diabetes since 2014, but grew up surrounded by it as a first-generation Mexican-American. With a bug for research, Liz pursued a PhD in molecular biology and spent her early career studying insulin signalling in invertebrates to understand how insects' tiny little bodies work. Along with advocating for women and girls in STEM, Liz shares her personal journey with diabetes on her social media platforms to help teach people to become their own advocates. Her passion for advocacy led her to join the Beyond Type 1 team. When she's not advocating, Liz enjoys hiking with her husband and their terrier/schnauzer mixed pup Burberry.