I know what it's like to have a bad day.I know what it's like to burn out.I know what it's like to think you're invincible and believe nothing bad will happen to you.I know what it's like to hide away and ignore or even pretend that there is nothing wrong and act like I don't even have diabetes.
I also know what it's like to be scared.I have had Type 1 Diabetes for nearly 22 years and I can honestly say I have been on a roller-coaster ride, experiencing the physical and emotional highs and lows.
I was diagnosed at the age of 2 and so having Diabetes is really all I have ever known.I should be able to run a Diabetes101 course, right? Wrong. For years I completely neglected my health, I didn't look after my diabetes at all!I have always considered myself so incredibly lucky that I was diagnosed at such a young age, as I never went through a major life transition because as a 2 year old you really don't have to make any extreme lifestyle changes, but this didn't make things any less of a challenge. Little things that shouldn't have been that difficult became frustrating - finger pricks, needles, time, routines, doctors appointments, the way others treated me & the stigma.
By the time I got to high-school, you could say I "burnt out", I gave up, I stopped looking after myself. I don't really know if it was just laziness or I truly thought I was invincible - I didn't believe anything bad would happen to me? I felt fine? I looked fine? Was Diabetes even affecting me at all?
For years I didn't test myself, I would skip insulin injections and doctors appointments became a very rare thing.
By the time I started university I lacked so much motivation.I was constantly exhausted and my concentration was terrible (due to my sugar levels constantly being high). I was always sick and my eye sight started declining.
Fortunately, after a very terrifying experience in a remote area of a foreign country, I found myself back on the right track. It definitely took a long time to get back there and turn everything around and it didn't happen over night.In-fact, I was very lucky that my health wasn't a lot worse! I had to re-educate myself about Type 1 Diabetes, force myself to get back into the habit of constant blood tests and taking my insulin at the proper time and start eating healthy and really focus on getting back into a proper routine.
The most important lesson that I have learnt in the last 22 years of having Type 1 Diabetes, is that I do have a chronic disease I may possibly live with for the rest of my life, and to minimise the risk of complications, I really do need to make good lifestyle choices.
I am a happy and healthy 23 year old, who is able to live my life to the fullest and experience all that life has to offer and although I do have a chronic disease, as long as I manage my diabetes I will be able to live a long, amazing life, full of awesome experiences just like anyone else.
So, why wouldn't I make sure I am the healthiest I can be?
I also find having an awesome support network of friends, family and colleagues who understand diabetes, really helps!
For a long time I hid away and didn't tell anyone I was a diabetic, as I found the stigma and other people’s responses really embarrassing. I have come to learn that most people don’t really understand Diabetes, or the differences between the types of Diabetes and their comments are not meant to be hurtful, but more so to understand what it is about!
Plus at the end of the day, it is kind of cool to have so much knowledge and be so educated about a particular subject and teach people all you know.