Diabetes UK has asked this week who we turn to for support, and whether talking to other people with diabetes, helps. My answer in short: I turn to YOU, and YES, YES, YES!
Having been diagnosed in 2011, it took a good 2 years to start to connect with other people living with diabetes. My dad has diabetes, but because he is type 2 and I am type 1, our approach to diabetes is completely different. It wasn’t until I attended the DAFNE course, organised by my local diabetes team, that I even met another person who had type 1 diabetes.
From then on, I can honestly say my life changed. Meeting other people my age, who were living with the same monster that I live with, was enlightening. Hallelujah, I’m not the only one who feels like throwing their diabetes out of the window!
A month later, I attended the Diabetes UK Big Conference. Here, I met some incredibly wonderful people. They also have diabetes. That alone makes them incredible! Having dinner in Nando’s with a bunch of people who also need to check their sugar levels and need to inject insulin, was almost surreal, at that point.
Fast forward a year, and I really wanted other people to feel as relieved as I do, when I talk to other people living with diabetes. Thus began my voluntary role with Diabetes UK. There is nothing greater than having someone listen to what you’re going through, and agree with you, when you feel like you’re the only one in the world who has to deal with the highs and low’s of diabetes.
The majority of the peer support that I have offered over the past 2 years, has been via the Diabetes Online Community (DOC). Twitter has been my main tool, and even though it restricts messages to a mere 140 characters, the Twitter world is truly gigantic. Finding the DOC was like finding buried treasure. Just like the buried treasure that I will one day find, the DOC is precious.
The DOC consists of people from all walks of life, different ages, different types of diabetes, lifestyles. I was diagnosed initially as having Type 1.5 diabetes, so imagine my delight when I was introduced to Lizzie, who also has type 1.5 diabetes!
It is because of the DOC that I decided to set up a blog, to keep track of my diabetes-related experiences. It is somewhat therapeutic having somewhere I can log my rants and woes that diabetes throws in front of me. What’s even better, is when someone comments on my blog, to say that they’ve had a similar experience, and know exactly how I feel!
In the real world, I often feel I’m in the minority. I’m the only one in my workplace who has diabetes. I’m the only one among my friends who has diabetes. I am a minority. I’ll admit that I never used to like that fact. Now though, it makes me feel special. I like being in the minority – even more when I can share my experiences with the DOC.
In answer to Diabetes UK then, I turn to the DOC for my everyday support. The Internet is always there. I know that if I’m having a 3am hypo, there will be someone somewhere, who is online. If I can’t sleep, there will always be mountains of diabetes related blogs that I can read. The DOC never sleeps! So, thank you, DOC. Thank you for being there, and being my friend.