Hello, diabetes community! Raquel here, shedding more light on the importance of community because it is THAT important!
Diabetes is difficult, but it is significantly more difficult when you are facing it alone. No matter how many people you have around you who are supportive and helpful, I cannot stress enough how much finding a type one community has changed my life.
Growing up, I was very much a “normal kid” in the sense that I did not let type 1 influence who I hung out with or what kinds of activities I did. I attended dance classes a few times a week and would sit out if I was low, drink juice, and really deal with it all myself because I wanted it to be that way! I definitely kept the disease to myself by taking care of it without needing help from others. At a pretty young age I was testing my blood sugar and dosing insulin on my pump by myself (with some carb counting help of course). My parents were more supportive than I could have dreamed of by having a JDRF OneWalk team called “Raquel’s Racers” bringing friends and family together to support me and while also allowing me to be independent when I wanted to be. I went to Camp New Horizons, a 1-week day camp for type 1’s in Dallas each summer and later became a dance teacher there. Truthfully, that and the walk every year were the only times I ever interacted with other type 1 diabetics. I felt no need to meet others with the disease, but little did I know that finding a community of others like me would make ALL the difference.
A year or so into college I stumbled upon the Instagram diabetes online community. At first, I found it a little weird how many people were sharing their stories of living with type 1 to the world, but I figured it did not hurt to follow a few accounts and see what it was all about. Soon I found that there was a whole world out there for type 1’s on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and blog pages.
Fast-forward to now, and I have my own Instagram account (@typeoneday) dedicated to sharing my life with type 1. And my junior year of college, a good friend of mine, founded the UT Austin College Diabetes Network chapter “Type Texas” and I was quick to join. I met one of my best friends through this organization and we now share our Dexcom readings with each other, work out together and text each other every time we are frustrated with the disease. Without finding the strength to open up about this disease, I would have never made these incredible connections or become as healthy as I am today.
I honestly believe finding these people caused me to have better management of my disease. When you find a community, it becomes less weird and more “normal” to do the things you need to do to take care of yourself.
If you do not have these people in your life I would encourage you to reach out to others. Chances are they want to find someone like you too!! It is so important to remember that you are not alone in going through this (regardless if you have type 1 or are a caregiver of someone living with diabetes) and it is okay to seek help.
Some ways to find a community:
- Reach out to your local JDRF chapter. They have tons of ways to connect you with others whether you are a parent of a type 1, significant other or type 1 yourself!
- Join Beyond Type 1’s “snail mail” program where they will match you up with a pen pal in another state and send you adorable supplies (postcards, stickers, etc)! So much Fun!
- Use social media to find others in your area or just people to chat with. Checking out #diabadass #t1d #t1dlife should get you started. It makes all the difference! There are hundreds of type one Instagram accounts, Youtube channels and other areas you can follow to create a positive accepting and inspiring type 1 community.
Take the leap and reach out. Those living with this disease are truly the only ones who “get it” and finding support is the key to a happy life with type 1!
Raquel Baron 🙂