The daily diabetes grind is stressful and emotional. If you change your mindset about diabetes, it's easier to accept it in your life. Read how diabetes made me a better me.
How do you make the transition from a carefree 10 year-old to waking up one day with type 1 diabetes? That’s what happened when I found myself in the hospital scared and not knowing how diabetes would affect my life. At age 10, I was active in dance and gymnastics, played games with my friends and wanted to be like everyone else. Telling me that I now need to take daily insulin shots, prick my finger and eat a special diet was like the world was against me. Much to my dismay, needles were at the top of my fear list.
"How can I be normal when I was different? How can I enjoy birthday cake at parties when I had to be so careful with my diet?"
I quickly learned diabetes 101 during my hospital stay giving injections to a teddy. I had no choice to get over my needle fear. Luckily, my mother was a dietitian and was very helpful in altering my "new" diet. However, back in school I found it difficult trying to fit in. And even though my friends didn’t treat me differently, I still felt estranged.
In order to meet other diabetics and get extra support, we joined a local JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). I started to see that I wasn’t the only diabetic around and that spreading diabetes awareness was a good thing. I became involved in the fundraising walks with my Team Erin where my friends and family walked for me. It was amazing to see the support I had around me. Writing the fundraiser letters, I highlighted all the diabetes complications. I thought, “I don’t want any of that to happen to me, I want to live my life to the fullest.” This is when changing my mindset started to sink in.
Turning Point of Confidence
During my teenage years, I joined a diabetes cycling camp. Everyone at the camp had diabetes with shared responsibilities and emotions. We woke up at the same time, tested our blood glucose together and freely injected insulin shots with no need to hide from anyone. This environment made me thrive and boosted my confidence. I’m just like everyone else. During our time together we laughed, told stories and enjoyed being ourselves. I didn’t want to leave, but that next year in school I shined like a star.
“I became more normal in my own head.”
I Just Want to Have Fun
The next years at university was challenging to keep up my spirited attitude with diabetes. I wasn’t very forthcoming of my diabetes with new friends or even my boyfriend. I was secretive with this aspect of my life Since I was in a new environment with new people, I wanted to have fun without worries. Sometimes I tried to forget about my diabetes, which put my body at risk at certain times. I tried to deny that diabetes set me apart, which pushed my body and mind to the limit.
Though, I knew if I wanted to feel normal I had to surround myself with support. In doing so I learned more about diabetes research and the latest technologies. I started on an insulin pump and it allowed me to be more flexible with my activities. It showed me that technology and diabetes research helps to make diabetes management a little easier and allows flexibility.
Travelling Abroad with Diabetes
After graduation I wanted to work and travel abroad. I was capable of travelling to a different country because diabetes is a worldly disease and support networks everywhere. This network was needed during my travels in Australia when my insulin pump malfunctioned. This experience taught me how to manage my diabetes abroad and filled me with hope especially because I first thought it was a hopeless goal.
"I started to acknowledge that diabetes was my normal and the only way to alter my thinking was to believe in myself and meet my goals."
Becoming active in my disease by learning about new developments or advocating for diabetes, helped me to come to terms with my diabetes. Changing my mindset empowered me with relentless will and determination pushing me to do things I never thought were possible. Throughout my life, I sought out ambitions that would test my body and diabetes from running a marathon to cycling through Central America to having children.
I acknowledged that the world of diabetics were sport athletes, artists, actors and more. Therefore, I wasn’t going to let diabetes hold me back from doing anything I want to achieve. Being different is a good trait. Because diabetes came into my life, I met people and accomplished milestones that I wouldn’t have done without it. So instead of seeing diabetes as different, embrace the uniqueness, as it will only make you stronger.
Being different is what makes us tick! Let me show you how to embrace your diabetes!