by Síofra Kelleher, YAP member
Disclaimer - this is a personal reflection on 10 years of type one diabetes, and should be read as such
Coming up on 10 years of type one diabetes(T1D), you can’t help but become reflective. It is so easy to get lost in the mundane, everyday activities that diabetes entails. I was diagnosed with T1D on the 14th of September 2010. At first, my ‘diaversary’(a relatively new term, a play on diabetes and anniversary) was a difficult day, in a difficult year. I struggled a lot with blame at the beginning of my diabetes journey. I’m a very logical person, so it was frustrating that I couldn’t assign a reason to my diagnosis.
A few years in, it felt easier to forget and just keep going on with my life than to face the diagnosis head-on. I wouldn’t realise it had been the 14th until the day was over. While not marking the day can be helpful for some, I knew I was just ignoring it in favour of ignoring diabetes completely.
Now, I don’t allow it to overtake my head, but I don’t ignore the 14th either. My parents give me a card, but we keep celebrations to a minimum. Because every day is a diabetes day.
Sometimes I talk about the last few years with diabetes and all the silver linings. The bad stuff too. A lot of people have asked me what I would do if I hadn't gotten diabetes but I wouldn’t be the same person today without diabetes. I’m sure I would have grown to be myself without diabetes too, but I wouldn’t have the passions I have now if it wasn’t for T1D. I am studying so I can hopefully pursue a career in diabetes technology. I try to be vocal and educate others about diabetes as much as I can. There’s a lot of life lessons that I feel I would have been slower to learn if it wasn’t for type one. As much as I wish I never got diabetes, that just wasn't going to happen so I am doing my best with what I have!
When I was younger, it was impossible to imagine that I would be 10 years living with type one diabetes. When I look at the future I didn’t include diabetes in the picture, so it was overwhelming to imagine I’d be diabetic all my life. Now I feel more comfortable having diabetes forever because I think of all I have done with diabetes already. I may not be the same person I was pre-diabetes but that’s not a bad thing. I also think of my friends and family who love me despite my diabetes. I am stronger and more grateful for the life I do have, and more willing to live life to the fullest!
So my best advice for those newly-diagnosed, or just any diabetic struggling with having diabetes for a long time is this:
- Be kind to yourself! Everyone processes things differently, and diabetics are not exempt from this. It may take you months or years to come to terms with your diagnosis.
- It’s ok not to be ok. What you read online about someone can make you believe they have it all figured out, but we all have bad days. I call them my ‘diabetes days’. As you go on these days became less frequent and easier to deal with, but it doesn’t mean I don’t still have them.
- Try finding some diabetic friends or friends who understand your diabetes. Not all your friends need to become experts, but have them at least understand that sometimes you need to treat a low or sit down a while. There’s a huge community online, full of understanding people and lots of good advice.
- You are not your diabetes, and your diabetes is not you! As much as it feels like diabetes controls our life, you are so much more than just this part of you. There is so much more to a person than your health condition.