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Shared experience

We are perfectly imperfect

JDRF Youth Ambassador Josie Newth talks to us about life with type 1 and how she hopes to share her learnings with others.

I was diagnosed when I was 13. I was very lucky to have people around me who had noticed how skinny I had become, how thirsty I was and my constant emergency toilet trips. My school teachers began to get concerned and I was tested at school and then sent straight to the doctor.

Learning to surf has brought challenges that I would never have even considered. I am often in the water for two to five hours at a time, expending a lot of energy and away from the comfort of checking my levels.

My surfing reminds me a lot of my journey with diabetes. I often miss waves and fall off my board, but I never stop paddling. When you get that wave, overcome the challenges and achieve your goals, the feeling is indescribable.

I am currently using the Freestyle Libre sensor, which has transformed my life. The biggest benefit for me is that I now feel like I am part of a club. I wear my sensor proudly and am often asked what it is. To some, this may be frustrating but for me this is an opportunity to spread awareness and be proud of the condition I live with.

I remember the moment I first wanted to share my voice. I was a week into my diagnosis, overwhelmed by the information being thrown at me. I began looking through YouTube to try and find other people living happy, fulfilling lives with type 1. I didn’t manage to find any videos. I felt so alone. I decided then that I was going to fill that gap. The Youth Ambassador programme is a platform that allows me to share my stories, to spread awareness of diabetes, to connect and build community.

I look forward to sharing the tips and tricks that I have developed over the last 11 years. I am a true believer that the real learnings in life are through doing, making mistakes and life experience.

There is a lot of joy that comes from helping others. If we can use our challenges and struggles to help other people going through the same thing then it makes it all worth it.

I feel very comfortable sharing pictures of my technology with others, although it was not always this way. I used to hide my sensor by wearing baggy clothes. However, I learnt to love this part of me. I realised that it is not something to hide or be ashamed of. It is something to be proud of.

I started yoga when I was on a gap year in New Zealand. The effect it had on my control was mind blowing. I had never seen my levels so good, and for such amazing results to come from something I loved so much, led me to feeling like I had found my calling in life.

Try to accept your condition rather than avoid it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or be vulnerable and have open conversations with your friends and colleagues. Make sure the people around you know that you have type 1 and teach your friends and family how to check your levels.

Wear your condition with confidence, don’t be afraid of what others think or believe it makes you any less. This is far from true and in fact it is your superpower and makes you so special, so unique and so loveable. We are perfectly imperfect.

You can follow Josie on Instagram at @josie_newth

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