Editor’s note: Written by guest blogger, Grace Bennett, Social Media Manager at JDRF. The opinions expressed by the author are her own and are not necessarily those of JDRF, its leadership, employees, or supporters.
Life with T1D means you don’t only observe your birthday, holidays, and anniversaries. You also usually in some way mark your “Diaversary” or the day your life with T1D began.
I’ve always felt a bit conflicted about my Diaversary. While I feel like I should do something to recognize a day that completely changed my life, it’s obviously not something I necessarily want to celebrate.
Who in their right mind would celebrate being diagnosed with a condition that adds significantly to one’s mental load (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!)?
I tend to quietly acknowledge my Diaversary with my family and then move on. That changed a few weeks ago, when I realized that life with type 1 diabetes (T1D) has taught me a lot of life lessons that I might not have learned otherwise. So, here are the 19 things I’ve learned over the 19+ years I’ve lived with T1D.
- Pretending something isn’t happening is not going to make it go away. This was my approach to T1D management during my teenage years, 0/10 recommend. Also, sorry mom and dad!
- If you overpack extra supplies, you likely won’t need them. You know when you will? The one time you try to “pack light.”
- Most of the time, people who suggest homeopathic “cures” like cinnamon for your T1D mean well, even though they are misguided. Using these moments as an opportunity to educate instead of getting defensive will feel a lot better than jumping down someone’s throat.
- Just because your illness is largely invisible doesn’t mean it’s easy. You’ll hear a lot of “at least it’s T1D and not *insert scarier illness here*” but the truth is, no one “wins” in a contest of who has it worse. Any illness or health condition is difficult in its own way.
- I really do not care if people see my T1D tech. I promise when you look back on photos from your eighth grade dance, the tubing from your insulin pump being visible won’t be one of things you cringe at.
- Pack the number of low treatments you think you’ll need and then double it. You’ll thank me later.
- Don’t get caught up in comparison to other people living with T1D who seem to be doing better than you are. This is the furthest thing from a “one size fits all” disease.
- Your blood sugar will get low at the MOST inconvenient times.
- Find community, whether it’s in-person or online. JDRF’s CEO, Dr. Aaron Kowalski says frequently that the T1D community is “the best club you never want to be a part of” and he is spot on.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you’re having a bad blood sugar day, especially an inexplicable one.
- Speaking of, don’t forget that more than just carbohydrates and exercise impact blood sugar. Stress, having a cold or the flu, hormonal changes, and any other number of variables can also throw your HbA1c off kilter.
- Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and ask questions at your medical appointments. If something doesn’t feel or seem right to you, mention it!
- Don’t fall into the trap of defining your whole life as “good T1D days” and “bad T1D days.” If you tried your best, even if your blood sugar wasn’t exactly where you wanted it to be, remember your best is enough.
- The field of T1D research IS progressing faster than ever before in the most exciting ways. Working at JDRF and getting to see not just the big milestones, but also the small pieces of progress being made is something that’s been an eye opener.
- Your friends and family who don’t live with T1D won’t ever fully understand how it feels, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to. Try your best to keep that in mind.
- It’s in no way, shape, or form your fault that your body doesn’t do something it’s supposed to.
- There really is no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to T1D—if you aren’t sure about something, ask!
- T1D burnout is real and can look different for everyone. If you find yourself struggling, I promise that asking for help will make you feel a massive wave of relief.
- Feel your feelings; resentment, anger, frustration, joy, sadness, etc., are all part of life with T1D. There is no wrong way to feel about life with a chronic illness.
As JDRF’s Social Media Manager, I can confidently say that the T1D community has a tremendous amount of wisdom about life with T1D to share beyond the points I’ve listed here. Don’t forget to go check out the comments on our Social Media channels for more advice from this incredible group of folks!