My best attributes can be linked to having type 1. I’ve been living with the condition for 16 years now. We’ve had our ups and downs, me and ol’ diabetes, but now I’ve reached 30 (gasp) I feel more at peace with it. Don’t get me wrong, there are serious downsides. There’s no cure, we have to plan and take extra care, not to mention scary stuff like the looming possibilities of blindness and loss of limbs (always really cheery thoughts for day to day life, eh?) but some of my finest traits can be linked to having type 1 and for that I’m lucky.
Organisation. There’s nothing like testing your blood sugar eight times a day, pumping four times (goodbye injections, I don’t miss you!) and constantly having sugar supplies to make you organised. I’m so organised I made a career out of it for years. Organised = Event Coordinator = not too shabby for Sarah.
Empathy. Living with a condition every day that people can’t really see makes you realise that other people are going through things we don’t know about and even if people seem ok, they might be hiding something. I’ve learned to talk and really listen – as I’m lucky to have some people who’ve really listened to me.
Living for now and planning for the future. Gasp. You CAN do both. Knowing that my health will seriously suffer if I don’t have stable blood sugars makes me realise life is precious, so I try and do positive things that scare me, spend loads of time with my beautiful family and have fun!
The future. I already have medium diabetic retinopathy (scary eye problems) and I don’t want any other problems, thank you very much! Some people waste life and I know with absolute certainty that I am making the most of it.
Strength. The majority of diabetics have suffered depression at some point. Been there, done that. A few months after I was diagnosed, a skinny, tired, shell of the fit, happy teen I was before, I started having panic attacks. Waking in the night not breathing, panicking every time I had low blood sugar – that feeling took a while to get used to. Your body is shutting down and when it’s new to you it’s terrifying.
It took me a while to get through the worst and I put my health second to ‘having a normal life’ too many times. Hence the retinopathy from high blood sugar throughout my teens (naughty diabetic, normal teenage behaviour.) As a result of seeing the other side of reactive depression, my mum and then my husband were the only people who knew what I was experiencing and living with type 1 for half of my life, I feel like a pretty strong person now (cue Beyoncé-esque #WhoRuntheWorld etc!)
I imagine if you asked a lot of contacts from when I worked in events, they wouldn’t know I had type 1 diabetes. Now I realise that’s not a good thing. I was so determined that it wouldn’t stop me doing anything that I would hide it, sometimes close to passing out, because I thought it would make me seem less efficient and be seen as a burden. That was stupid. Now, if people don’t get it, I educate. If they still don’t get it, screw them. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but having type 1 can be a positive thing and it has made me make the most out of life and helped me learn to give people a break sometimes. But hey, that’s just me!