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Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or you’ve been living with it for a while, you may be looking for people who can understand what you’re going through.

Your support system can help reduce your stress as you manage the disease, as well as give you a group to lean on during tough times and celebrate with when you reach a goal.

What about family or friends?

Some people may have family or friends in their support network. Others may notand that’s okay, too! Your family and friends may be a wonderful help for you because they love you, but they may not understand what it’s like because they don’t have diabetes. 

“Sometimes, [my family members] just don’t get it,” one person shared in an article on How2Type2 earlier this year. “I have to explain that no, I can’t have that piece of cake you worked so hard to bake—I can only have a small bite. No, I can’t take the leftovers—even though I always used to before.”

Where can I find a support network? 

If you’re looking for support outside of friends and family, help is out there. Whether you prefer to connect with others face-to-face or over the internet, there are many opportunities to build a support network with those who understand where you’re coming from. Doing so can even help tackle the stress of diabetes by giving you a chance to get things off your chest and learning new ways to cope. These four tips may be able to help you start finding the best network for you:

1. Call your local office of the American Diabetes Association.

If you haven’t already browsed the American Diabetes Association (ADA) website, it’s worth a visit. The site has many resources for people living with type 2 diabetes, from diet and exercise tips to information about blood sugar control.

But the resources aren’t just online. The ADA has many local offices around the country that help put on programs and resources for people just like you. Think group walks, classes, family fun days, and more.

Enter your ZIP code here to find your local ADA office. Then, call the number to ask about any programs, peer groups, or social outings they may offer. They may also have a calendar of upcoming events to share, too. Or, call the national hotline at 1-888-DIABETES to see if they have any upcoming opportunities to connect in a community near you.

2. Ask your care team and hospital for local classes, programs, or other resources.

Your doctor may be a big source of support for you: he or she sees you when you’re sick, knows your health challenges, and refers you to the other specialists in your care team.  Consider asking your doctor if he or she knows of any programs where you could meet new people who are also living with type 2 diabetes. Things like local educational programs or classes can help you and your caregivers better understand your condition, too. 

It’s also a good idea to call your local hospital or clinic to ask about any other free events, seminars, or programs designed for people with type 2 diabetes. And be open to trying new things! Some of their suggestions may be a bit out of your comfort zone, but you might have a lot of fun—and meet other people who can become part of your support network.

3. Search calendar listings in your local paper or magazine.

If your local newspaper, magazine, or other publication publishes a list of upcoming events in your area, check it to see if there are any that may be a fit for you. Some possible ideas include support groups, fitness classes, or fundraising walks.

Volunteering at these events may be a great way to get even more involved with the type 2 diabetes community by using your skills for a cause that directly benefits your community.  Contact the event organizers or hosting groups to ask if there are any volunteer opportunities so that you can help out and maybe enjoy new connections along the way.

4. Find an online community.

Some research says that participation on social networking sites may help people with type 2 diabetes improve their glucose control, so if you have internet access, why not try joining an online support community?

A good starting point for online support is to create an account on the ADA online community. This community includes many people like yourself who have type 2 diabetes and wish to share their experiences, celebrate their victories, support each other, and exchange tips about healthy eating, diabetes management, and other topics.

If you have a smartphone, its app marketplace may offer specific networks for people with type 2 diabetes. Take a look through the options available to see if anything stands out. You could also try searching your preferred social media outlet to find a community that works for you on a familiar platform. But remember: social networks are there for support, not medical advice. Your health care provider should always be the go-to source for that. 

Find your tribe, wherever they are

If you’re managing type 2 diabetes, you don’t have to do it alone. And how nice would it be to celebrate your victories—like achieving a target A1C—with someone who can share in the excitement with you?

By finding a tribe who lifts you up and cheers you on, you can! So what are you waiting for? Get out there and meet your new support network. They probably can’t wait to say hello.

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