Hello, and happy Saturday! I’m going to dive right in.. I always actually liked this quote, but could never truly relate to it.. until now. (Incase you haven’t caught on yet.. I really like quotes. So expect to see one at the beginning or end of.. well, likely everything I post.) Bare with me, I’ll get back to this.
After being diagnosed at age 15, I felt pretty lost for a while, along with many, many other emotions. I was angry, I was sad.. I felt like my body had completely failed me. I was confused, I didn’t understand. I mean.. One day I’m a typical sophomore in high school, drinking Vanilla sprite from Sonic nearly everyday, and the next I’m told I can only have sugar free drinks (by the way this isn’t actually true for type 1’s, I can technically have a sugar drink if I WANT .. it would just be a LOT of insulin and I chose not to- but don’t you dare tell a type 1 they cannot have sugar) , and will need to take a shot every time I eat for the rest of my life (um, WHAT!?). My whole world turned upside down in a matter of days.. I don’t think being depressed at the time was totally unusual (scratch that, I KNOW it wasn’t).. and truth be told I still have days I struggle to overcome that feeling.
I believe they called it “situational depression” .. when I heard that, I’m willing to bet I rolled my eyes, and my response was something like “well who wouldn’t be depressed if they JUST found out they will have this disease and be stabbing themselves with needles for the rest of their life?” (Am I right, Mom & Dad?) “It’s normal” said all the doctors.. feeling sad or depressed is 100% NORMAL. And I stand by that today..whether you were just diagnosed, or you’ve been living with this for 20+ years. Yet.. I was still so embarrassed by it at the time, and I didn’t/wouldn’t talk about it. Instead I stored that pain and that hurt, and that feeling of embarrassment in the back of my mind, and tried to deal with it all by myself. If you read my previous post, you know that didn’t end well for me.. I fought with my parents, I didn’t take care of myself, and there’s a lot of stuff I wish I would have done differently… and here is why I’m writing today!
There is nothing wrong with seeking help, and being vulnerable and honest with somebody who can truly give you their best advice. For some reason, I just wouldn’t do it. I wish I would have, I imagine I wouldn’t have gone though a lot of the things I did if I would’ve had someone to share my “deepest and darkest” thoughts and secrets with someone medically trained to give me the best advice they can. I was just too scared. But of what? Probably of what they would tell me.. That I couldn’t keep living that way, that it was unhealthy, that I would lose limbs or go blind.. they would tell me everything I’d already heard from doctors, parents, and friends (by the way, if you’re not diabetic.. I beg you not to tell your diabetic friend about your moms friend or your whoever who WAS diabetic .. we hear enough dark stories, I promise, please don’t add to the list.. we know the consequences). I was scared to talk to someone- because I knew I wasn’t trying my hardest on my end (actually, I was hardly trying at all). I was scared of having to actually admit to that, and take action, and take responsibility and get my life back in order. So I didn’t. Please note, this is not me persuading you to go see a professional. I do however encourage you to just think about it IF you or your kid/friend/ whoever you know with diabetes is having a hard time accepting this disease on a day to day basis. I really could have used someone to open up to those teen years, and my parents really really tried, I just wasn’t interested, and like I said.. ultimately was just terrified because I knew I wasn’t taking care of myself and I wasn’t ready to admit that yet.
At 24, I’ve finally accepted that my diabetes is a part of me- and probably both my favorite and least favorite part of me at that. I wouldn’t be who I am today without everything being type 1 has put me through. I might have a working pancreas.. but I wouldn’t have the strength, perseverance, and “it’ll pass” mindset that I’m so thankful for today. I’m not perfect, (actually, I’m FAR FAR FAR from perfect) but I like the person I’ve grown to become today. It’s been quite a journey to get here.
When I wrote my first post, a little over a week ago.. I had no idea how good it would feel (while at the same time absolutely terrifying) to share my story and be honest and vulnerable about everything.. and there’s still so much more I can elaborate on. I wanted to thank all of you, for the nice comments whether on the blog, via Facebook, or e-mail… I am truly humbled and overwhelmed with the positive feedback and encouragement.. and it’s so nice to talk with other diabetics like YOU. Two days after my first blog post, I did the step out walk to stop diabetes. It was heart wrenching to see how many people, but especially kids were wearing red hats (if you were a diabetic participating in the walk- you got a “red strider” hat). This disease has got to end, guys. Not for my sake, but for all those kids, for the struggling teenagers, for the adults who’ve just had enough, and for the poor babies not even born yet, it’s got to stop. I encourage you to look into volunteering for your local JDRF (go to the website and sign up and they’ll send you an email within a couple days) or ANY charity for T1D. I cannot tell you how good it feels to give back, step up, and just tell your story and talk with others going through the same thing. I’ve actually had this conversation recently with a fellow type 1 diabetic that I had the pleasure to “meet” via a diabetes (Dexcom and Omnipod users) Facebook group we were both in! Actually, he and his wife and friends who also deal with type 1 in their life, have started a Facebook page to support families battling type 1 AND they’re doing fun events and activities to raise funds for T1D. How cool!? They’re in Charlotte, NC if you happen to be in that area! Either way, you should go check out and support their Facebook page “Families Fighting Type 1” (FFT1) . I hear they will have a website soon as well, so stay tuned!
If you want to simply interact with other type 1 diabetics, of any age, you should (if you haven’t already) check out tudiabetes.com .. they have so many forums, blogs, chatrooms, anything and everything a person with any type of diabetes, can benefit from. When I first heard of it back in 2013, I went in the chat room almost daily and it was nice to be able to login at any given time and have people right there knowing what you’re going through. Also, another great charity, aside from JDRF that has recently caught my attention is “Beyond Type 1”. They’re newer to the game, but go check out their website and their new app! There’s even a place to sign up for “snail mail” with another diabetic somewhere in the world (you can choose your preference on male/female, and if you’d like them to be younger, same age, or older). You enter a few things about yourself (or your child) and they’ll match you with someone, and in a matter of weeks you’ll have a starter kit in your mailbox! Pretty neat, I’d say. They encourage to donate and pay for your kit, but you CAN get it at no cost. I would have LOVED this when I was 15! I just want to add, these are all my honest opinions and I’m in no way being paid or sponsored, I’m simply just talking these places up because they truly are great. So check them out! My biggest regret is not getting involved in the diabetes community sooner.
I got a little off track there, but diabetes is hard, we get no breaks, EVER!.. and sometimes, we just need to be reminded that we’re not alone.
Now back to my original quote.. way up there at the top (sorry, can you tell I really like to write!?). As I stated up in the first real paragraph.. my diagnosis had me feeling lost.. and if we’re being honest, I don’t even know that I knew “who I was” a year ago. Ever since I got Dexcom CGM back in April it’s been truly life changing, getting to know myself again (without a foggy mind and no high blood sugars messing with my moods). I’ve been trying this whole time to “find myself again”.. well, last week after my first post, I was reassured.. Life really isn’t about finding yourself…It IS about creating yourself. It’s about becoming WHOEVER and WHATEVER you want to be. As for me, that’s this. Writing, sharing my stories, advocating for diabetes. THIS is what I want. Whether I have 2 readers, or 2,000.. I will keep writing. I will keep sharing my stories, and I will keep advocating. And I will continue to enjoy doing so. (If you’d like to be e-mailed when I post again, be sure and click “follow”- and thank you in advance!)
Stay strong my fellow diabuddies, and hugs to all you parents with “type 1 default diabetes”, as I like to call it- you know their struggle, and you fight that fight every day with them, in a way, you have it (by default) even though your pancreas may be fine.
Okay, I have to add one last thing… I have had music playing on a shuffle in the background, and as I’m wrapping this blog post up I hear “even the best fall down sometimes” .. Take that for what you will. Just remember that it’s okay to “fall down” as long as you get back up and keep fighting the good fight!
-Chelsea, The hopeful diabetic ❤
PS- I have a lot of things I know I want to write about. But I’d also love to know if there’s anything you’d like to know about or read. Anything! (Whether it’s how I personally control my sugars, things I wish I knew then, my favorite carb free snacks.. or if you’re a parent with a T1 kid, maybe anything you’d like to know from my parents, etc.. you get the point) Comment, or email me privately through the contact section because I’d love to hear feedback. And if you made it this far….. breathe, it’s over. Thank you for hanging in there, and thank you so much for reading! 🙂