Diabetes and Spirituality

I know that there are illnesses out there (like terminal illnesses) that invoke a lot more spirituality than T1DM, but I wanted to throw this out there.  When I was diagnosed at age 19 I was still right in the middle of choosing my identity and was doing a lot of soul-searching.  When I was diagnosed, I found myself refelcting on whether relying on my sprituality or God would help in the management of my illness.

In an attempt to avoid directing this post from going one way or the other, I will leave it up to the rest of the members of juvenation to start this off.  Feel free to post whatever experiences you have that involve your spirituality and how it relates to managing your type 1 diabetes.

I was thinking about this the other night when I couldn't go to sleep (and it just made me less tired!).  I remembered a teacher in high school, before he told the class that he was diagnosed with cancer, that there is no such thing as a higher being because if there were, then why were so many innocent people, particularly children, suffering in the world.  Some time after that, it dawned on me that he said this when he first found out the news about his health.  Then about a month ago, I stumbled upon an article as to why a young man pretty much lost faith in God after being diagnosed with diabetes (http://www.examiner.com/x-1666-Denver-Diabetes-Examiner).  I honestly found the article very interesting.  My point on this; however, is that I will always be a Roman Catholic.  I believe Jeremiah 29:13-14 states "When you call me, when you go to pray for me, I will listen to you.  When you look for me, you will find me."  That's my stand.

Growing up, I did not choose to be a Catholic, I was born to it.  My dad is very religious and my godfather happens to be a priest.  What I did choose, is to continue the faith that I was brought up with.  It was a choice that apparently my brothers didn't really make, but  I did.  I feel that my faith in God has made me stronger and when I feel weak or just want to give up, my faith just brings me right back on track.  Having diabetes has its moments where you feel all alone, and that your family can't help you since they don't really understand exactly what you're going through.  Were it not for my seeking help through my beliefs, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be the well-rounded individual that I consider myself to be.

I'm sure that there may be many of you who disagree with me, but this is just my opinion.  I'd love to hear what others have to say about this.  Mad Evans, this is an amazing topic to focus on, and I'm glad you posted this!!!  I'm not sure if i answered the question like you probably anticipated Juvenation members to, but this was the first thing that popped out of my head :)

IN looking at ones spirituality and how it shaped my life after diagnosis, I can honestly tell you there was a major impact in my life and more so in my spiritual life. While it is not something I like to think about, I can honestly say there was a point that I was really angry and pissed off at God for what happened to me. I had become for me centered and never really looked at the big picture for a long time. I still had faith and still begged for a cure but I was not willing to truly accept what the illness was offering me.

Right now, I am studying in the seminary to be a Catholic priest one day and while it seems strange to state, had I not been diagnosed with diabetes, I cannot be certain I would be where I am right now in my life. That is one of those introspections that I have yet to really address and know I need to. Maybe, one day soon I will look at this deeper. However, I can tell you that when I run into crisis now and when I have an issue, the first persons I turn to are both God and Mary. They have been my beacons of trust and hope. One night over the summer I was in the rectory of my summer assignment alone. It was about two in the morning and I had run into a major low (pre-pump), i woke up on the floor of the suite in one of those stupors where I could not move and get to my supply of stuff to treat low blood sugar which was in the other room. The only thing that was truly functioning for me at that point was my mind. So I did the only thing I could do, I turned to prayer to get my mind focused on the task at hand. I needed the Lord's help to calm down from the panic I was in, to be able to get my muscles under control enough to get into the other room.

Could I have done it without prayer... Probably, but my spirituality has taken me to a point where I can trust in the Lord to help me through my troubles and afflictions. I realize being what my occupation may one day be, that what I wrote is slanted in one way, but it is truly what I believe.

  For me, spirituality has been a major part of my life! Right before I went into the hospital with DKA and found out that I had diabetes, I had just began going to church. I was finally beginning to find myself.  When I was first diagnosed, I was really angry with God. I had gone through quite a bit in my life already and was furious that He would allow me to have something else like diabetes going on! 

  As time progressed, I began to realize that God would not give me more than I could handle and that this was all in His plan.."For I know the plans that I have for you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. Anyway, I was nervous about telling people about my diabetes.. Surprisingly enough to me, my friend were very supportive. At church, many of the people were supportive as well! They all began to pray for me, as I had revealed that I was very upset and frustrated with God.

  It took about 2 years, but now I am relying on God and knowing that He will fix all things in His time. I know that it is in His plan for me to witness to others and tell them about my struggle with diabetes.

  Hope that helps!!


A pastor at my church had cancer, as well; they actually looked at the success rate of his treatment compared to other pateints' who were not spiritual. As it turned out, he dealt with cancer better and ended up beating his cancer.

To others it may sound like a dumb question; I've gotten plenty of blank stares when I've brought this up before. But do you all really think spirituality helps diabetes? I believe so, but I too am curious what everyone else thinks.

Thanks everyone for the responses so far.  I really didn't want this post to die.  That was an interesting article you posted, Ruth.  I'll have to look up some of his other stuff about diabetes.  And, you posted exactly how I anticipated; it was great to hear your story and how you were able to integrate your spirituality with your diabetes.  I'll share mine in a bit, but I'm glad that you were brave enough to put your opinion out there first!  I didn't want to be the first because my view is probably more of the minority view regarding the matter, and I didn't want anyone to be deterred by my first post + opinion.

Also, Brian that was amazing how you were able to find the spiritual strength to treat your low.  And Audrey I was glad to hear your personal views on your spirituality and how it relates to your diabetes as well.  Thanks for posting!

Alyssa, I haven't seen any studies done but I do know that hope is something that is very important for patients with chronic disease to have.  Whether one is hoping for a cure, hoping for advances in treatment, or hoping that God will comfort and alleviate their suffering I don't think makes a difference.  I have heard many, many anecdotes of spirituality helping immensely, though.  This is just my opinion, and I'd like to share how else my diabetes has affected my spirituality.

Mandie (http://juvenation.org/members/mcmermand/default.aspx) and I were discussing this privately last night.  I'll reiterate my part of the discussion that outlined how I feel diabetes has affected my spirituality:

I was raised believing in the Christian God, that everything was either from God or from the Devil.  When I was diagnosed, it threw me right on my back.  I was a punk teenager of 19 and held this bad-boy type image that disgusts me now, looking back on it.  Basically, I was a bit of a delinquent.  My diagnosis just so happened right when I was developing my own philosophies and worldviews, so I knew I was about to make a big choice.  My whole family is absolutely devout religious; it permeates every aspect of their lives.  So, I was discharged from the hospital knowing almost nothing (diabetic discharge education needs some SERIOUS reform where I live, in my opinion).  I tried to "just go with the flow" for a while and give myself shots based on the sliding scale I was given by the doctor.  It didn't work at all.  My blood sugars were through the roof half the time and slamming to the ground the rest of the time.

So, I remember pleading and pleading with the big man upstairs that he would help me and make it all go away.  But, things only got worse.  I never had developed a personal relationship with God, but I did often think about being righteous rather than being evil.  My pleading seemed useless.  I was devastated.  Then one day I stopped feeling sorry for myself and stopped complaining and moping around and just decided to take care of the beast on my own.  I went to the library, rented about 5 books about diabetes, read one completely, and used the others as resources for the next few weeks.  My control suddently became perfect, and I felt incredible.  My A1C was in the 5s after being in the 13s just the time before (my A1C has never been below 6 since that time - I was absolutely devoted to attaining perfect control).  Since then, the whole idea of a God that you can petition with prayers has been a complete non-issue.  I no longer have duality of thought (oh this is evil and that is righteous, etc) or consider anything a "blessing" or "curse" from a supernatural power.  It isn't that I completely deny the existence of any "power" or "force" that is beyond human comprehension, but the idea of the supernatural just doesn't come across my mind anymore.

I've adopted the worldview that the sacred is everywhere.  But, I consider very little of what man has created to be "sacred".  I've become a pretty ardent environmentalist (I hope I have the means for my future home to be completely energy-independent - I would love to have a solar-powered house - and I hope to not own a car, I think cars are basically the plague of the earth right now) and a health-food nut.  I do feel that me being diagnosed with diabetes was one of the most fortuitous accidents that has ever happened to me.  I feel that making the things that are around me sacred (my relationship with my wife, the trees outside my window, my insulin pump) provides me with a fulfillment that making the supernatural sacred never could.  But I do know that the event - whether my diabetes was divine intervention or not doesn't really concern me - breathed a renewed passion for life into me that was almost forever lost.  I wouldn't even give my diagnosis back if you offered to pay me, but I would love a cure now that I've learned what it's like to suffer.

I'm not sure if it's a difference in personality, or it was just a difference in timing or what... but, I am the only one in my family who does not claim to know that a personal God exists.  I don't claim to know that a personal God does not exist either, but from my experiences so far I find myself leaning toward that side of the fence.  It's interesting to me how much diabetes affects my life so significantly.  It has helped me to form a meaningful sense of spirituality, encouraged me to choose a fulfilling career, and allowed me to tell a whole crowd of probably disinterested readers on juvenation about my experiences.

Thanks for taking the time to read this if you were able to finish!  I know it was QUITE a long response, hahahaha.


God helps me deal with diabetes everyday!
He's been there from the begining and He will be there until I'm cured of this disease.
It is so funny because not long after I was diagnosed, my mom was praying for my healing, and all of a sudden, my sugars starting dropping, and I was backing off of my Lantus a unit or two at a time, and then I started getting freaked out, and said, "I don't want to be healed", and after that, my sugars started going back up, and I got back to about the same units of Lantus that I had been on before it all started.
And now looking back I think.. "why was I so stupid?", "why did I say such a thing?".
But the past is the past.  I can't change it.  But now, I am praying for my healing.
And I do believe that one day, when the time is right, I will be healed.
Because it says in the Bible "by His stripes we are heal".
And I want to point out that when my sugars started dropping, it was after I had gone through my "honeymoon" stage.

So yeah, my belief in God plays a huge role in my life with diabetes.
I pray for my sugars everyday, and I pray that he helps me every three days when I change my infusion set.

I have come to consider myself an atheist.

So called spirituality is important to me, reading religious texts, and listening to sermons can be pleasant and uplifting, but I find myself much more interested in people, the human being, and their incredible will and power, then any interest in a deity.

I think my diabetes has helped in direct this interest in people and their power of life and will. I find this, however they come to express it wether through work, religion, words, or their very being is where I need to be.

as for me religion is a huge part of my life. i think that it has helped to believe in something rather than giving up and not believe in anything. that's just my point of view.

Hmm, I got hit with this Just before I got baptized into the Church, It was a pastor that first told me that I had this crazy disease for which there is no known man made cure; and it was the knowledge of the transcendent, yet personal creative God of the universe that really kept me. I've been "Christian" for years and just had some deep experiences with God just before this news came (NOTE: if you are a Christian that wants to experience him truly, just do what the Bible commands and get the Gospel of the coming of Jesus to anyone you can, you're be on the battle lines where all the fun is), so this struck me as sort of an test from him. No, I did not freak out like everyone else around me, and when people said "I'm so sorry" I would say "It's not your fault" and that is the honest truth, it’s not their fault, nor anyone's fault, and God saw in his providence to allow me to go through such a thing. Sure, it’s nothing like what Job with through, but now I have a testimony, now I have something to tell somebody, to uplift them with my story in their time of need.

Revelation 12:11
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

And Just when I was praying if I should be a pastor! Yeah, this thing came at the right wrong time, and I'll have a year with this in April, but you just gotta push on, and because I was thought the correct way to interpret scripture, I knew that the conditions for healing in the Bible were always had salvific overtones, and I had made up my mind for Christ, not needing a miracle.

Now, I'm the only one in the theology department with Type 1 diabetes, I let people know if they ask, but I don't sweat it. These needles do help a lot in denial of selfishness, and with every prick it is like an infinitely dumbed down hurt of the nails of that Cross. As I watch the sun come up, and realize that I must have now developed a sleeping disorder from this, I praise the Lord for the things that he has done, and that he might use me to reach others for his Kingdom.

Has this thing helped my relationship to Christ? Yep, because now I can relate to someone in a way that no one else can, and for that--I'm thankful.

For me (and probably a lot of toddler diabetics), my spirituality was never affected by the advent of my diabetes, nor has it had any contributing factor. My journey through my evolving perception of being spiritual can be blamed solely on my partners and my life experiences. :)

[quote user="Alyssa"]

A pastor at my church had cancer, as well; they actually looked at the success rate of his treatment compared to other pateints' who were not spiritual. As it turned out, he dealt with cancer better and ended up beating his cancer.

To others it may sound like a dumb question; I've gotten plenty of blank stares when I've brought this up before. But do you all really think spirituality helps diabetes? I believe so, but I too am curious what everyone else thinks.


Being non-religious myself....I think it would be more of the "positive self healing", he believed he would get better so he did. There was a news report last week about a young filmmaker who in the middle of one of his trips..became ill, came back to canada and was diagnosed with leukemia. They gave me 4months to live and he spent months in the hospital under going blood fusion treatment..that was over 3 years ago and he's healthier than ever. How? His whole family took the route of positive thinking, and along with herbal pills to keep his immune system up..he claims he feels better than ever. According to the doctors, he is. He even is finishing a film about the whole experience..he filmed his treatment, the doctor telling him and his family he had 4months to live, his private conversation with his mom after..etc. They went the "denial" root that he was dying, and took belief that through thinking he would get better..he would..and he did. He wasn't religious from what I remember from the news report, and he never mentioned looking to "God" to save him.

[quote user="Trevor"]

For me (and probably a lot of toddler diabetics), my spirituality was never affected by the advent of my diabetes, nor has it had any contributing factor. My journey through my evolving perception of being spiritual can be blamed solely on my partners and my life experiences. :)


Agreed. I was too young for it to effect my religious views, and while when I was younger and going to church(well as often as my mother could take me and my brother) I made have asked my mother "why did God do this to me?" because I was young and confused by what happened to me...I don't believe at all that it had any effect in me discontinuing to belief in "God" when I was 13. I more grew out of the idea its a single entity that created the whole universe. that just seems silly to me to me now.

I don't rely on anyone else, or believe that anyone else, but myself takes care of my diabetes(sure the doctors and my mom help..but not in the way you guys are saying), the idea of thinking "God" helps me..makes me want to collaspe to the floor in laughter. I don't mean to offend..but that whole idea of some entity like "God" taking care of MY diabetes..is very silly to me personally. "God" doesn't do my needles for me, "God"doesn't test my blood sugar, "God" doesn't keep them from going out of control, "God" isn't involved. at all.

I went through a similar pleading and bargaining Mad Evans, and no matter what I did, nothing changed.  So here I am a decade later in graduate school because I have to earn enough money to take care of myself instead of wait for a miracle.  I don't think diabetes changed my beliefs, it only serves to reinforce the beliefs you currently hold.  However the education I encountered is pretty convincing.  Priests don't treat diabetes, doctors do.  Psychology reinforces that believing in something is not evidence that it is true.  I find it more parsimonious that there is no special being.  So ultimately I find knowing I am responsible for managing my condition to be the most powerful motivation.

"That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."-Matthew 5:45


I think about this quite a bit actually. I consider myself to be pretty religious at least in a spiritual sense and i do believe in some sort of higher power. I have always felt like somewhat of an anachronism and many people I meet tell me that they believe that i truly belong in another time. However, I happened to be diagnosed with diabetes just as the switch from calorie counting to carb counting was made. At this time there were also many other changes occuring in the world of diabetes that made diabetes much more livable than it had been a mere 5 to 10 years before. If I had been born a few decades ago Diabetes, while obviously still a challenge, could have been 10 times more challenging. So I really do believe that I was born/ diagnosed when I was for a reason and that I'm meant to do something special (even if it only affects one person). IDK this may be a huge stretch but it helps get me through the day.

I'm what you might call a "christian from the cradle." I started going to church with my parents pretty much as soon as I was born. And when I was diagnosed with diabetes at age five, my parents started taking me to faith healers. I saw a lot of faith healers and got prayed over a lot, but obviously my diabetes is still here. I got very tired of going to faith healers, actually.

The fact that I was never "healed" has never bothered me. Sometimes I think that maybe God wants me to have diabetes. Why, I don't know, but there is always the possibility that God has a plan for me & my diabetes and I just haven't figured it out yet.

I once asked someone on a diabetes e-mail list to stop using the word "curse" with regard to diabetes. I told him that I don't think of diabetes as being a curse. "Do you consider it to be a blessing?" he asked. I asked: why does it have to be either? It is what it is. Or maybe it is what you make of it.

I have foud that when it comes to a disappointment about my not being healed because of my faith a prayer, I have never doubted the Lord or what has happened to me so to speak. Being a diabetic is something that is who I. I do not really blame God and have learned so much because of being a diabetic. While we may not understand the reason for the illness or getting the disease when we do, in some way I have to believe there is a reason. I mean, look at this community, would half of us be here had we not been diasgnosed with Type 1? I probably would not be here. Think about the fact that in some small way we are helping and supporting others in need. Not to mention helping to solve problems. It is a small thing, but there must be a reson for why we are all brought here.

I cannot doubt anything anymore, I know that I would not be who I am right now w/o my being a diabetic. I have known myself for 27 years now and am quite happy with who I am and have become. I cannot doubt that and I cannot blame God for anything. He knew us while we were in the womb and knows the potential that we have to become great people. We all have an innate strength that we need to share with others and know who we are, this I think is because of His guidance and influence. While some days I may be angry and get the "Why me?" Syndrome. Most days, I don't even think about it.

[quote user="Trevor"]

For me (and probably a lot of toddler diabetics), my spirituality was never affected by the advent of my diabetes, nor has it had any contributing factor. My journey through my evolving perception of being spiritual can be blamed solely on my partners and my life experiences. :)



i completely agree i was just 4 so it didn't affect me in my beliefs that much.


My faith in God has made me to be able to deal with my diabetes better. I have had it for 46 years and I am doing OK. I have a beautiful daughter, a beautiful grandaughter, and I love my life. My Faith has given me the things I need to work with other people and has shown me how much love there still is in this "horrible" world we live in today.

I am a mother of a T1DM and a child that is not a diabetic.  I look at my one son and think, "Oh, Thank God, he is not the diabetic".  My son that has diabetes is strong and determined.  I believe he was chosen to have diabetes, maybe he will do something great someday!  I believe God has a hold of his life and will direct him.