Dr Jen Nash Diabetes and Wellbeing



continued over

Having been diagnosed

with Type 1 in 19xx,

Nash graduated with a

degree in Psychology

in 19xx and has since

worked as a clinical psychologist with a

special interest in diabetes care.

Her book Diabetes and Wellbeing [full

title Diabetes and Wellbeing: Managing

the Psychological and Emotional

Challenges of Diabetes Types 1 and 2] is

Nash's first book although she has been

a contributor to an American compilation

edited by Dr Beverly Adler, a US clinical

psychologist, called My Sweet Life, which

was a collection of stories from women

with diabetes, none of whom who let the

diagnosis get in their way.

Her own book is a distillation of her

experience so far, not just her own

personal journey with diabetes, but

of her experience working in hospital

settings. It was there that she could see

the emotional factors that can get in

the way of factors such as the uptake

about living with diabetes, with Dr Jen Nash

of clinical advice in terms of medication

and behaviours. She says, "People may

say use financial reasons for not coming,

saying 'I can't take the time off work'

to attend appointments, but they are

unaware of the realities. People do not

know their rights! Your employer has to

give you time to visit your doctor if you

are living with a long-term condition. You

shouldn't necessarily have to take your

annual leave to attend appointments."

It took Nash about a year to write

then go through the process of it being

published. She admits that while she is

still quite young, and has had a relatively

short career in the NHS, much of her

experience has been achieved through

freelance work and private healthcare

consultations. She says, "With diabetes

there is a lot of anxiety associated with

living with the condition, but there is not

space in the traditional settings to air

these worries. Sometimes the behaviours

can include everything from missing health

appointments to just not sticking to taking

the medication, or not taking enough care

on carb counting, and so on."

Walking the walk

Although living with Type 1 diabetes, Nash

doesn't specialise in Type 1 care but looks

at both types in the clinical setting. She

says, There are many overlays between

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes although

they are different conditions. Often the

problem with Type 2 diabetics is that they

don't comply. There are too few public

health messages about our emotional

relationship with food. It's not just about

give-a-day or diet sheets. Type 2 diabetes

has been called the silent assassin. With

Type 1 diabetes there is no hiding from it.

With Type 2 people think that if they take

a few tablets it will go away. Because it

is currently treated in primary care (GPs

surgeries) I think that diagnosis is not

given psychological back up, yet it is

needed there at the start in order to help

people deal with the condition in the long


Team work

Nash's belief is that people need space

to talk about their personal narrative

and integrate the diagnosis into their

identity. However, her book is partly

aimed at clinicians and other healthcare

professionals. "They need feedback

and back up too," says Nash, "They

may be brilliant nurses but they need

empowerment. As a psychologist,

I am very familiar with working with

patients, but doctors and nurses are

involved in diabetes care too. There is a

practical aspect of behavioural change

that involves both parties. At an NHS

appointment it can feel that it's often

just numbers and HbA1c levels. It can

be hard for professionals to work with

the emotional side of living with diabetes

because it's actually involves the patient's

whole life, not just their diabetes as a

separately entity. So clearly HCPs are in

partnership with the patient."

Nash has lived with Type 1 diabetes

for a fair while but has a very practical


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