My Type 1 Diabetes Story

November is Diabetes Awareness Month! Diabetes is definitely on the rise, but did you know that there's a difference between Type 2 and Type 1? Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that can come on suddenly to both adults and children. It has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is nothing currently that can be done to prevent it from happening or a known cure. With Type 1, your pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone needed to get energy from food. This means that something that previously went on without you knowing, becomes a manual 24/7 process by a type 1 diabetic. Consistent monitoring of your blood glucose levels, injections or infusing of insulin regularly, and making sure that everything stays in a healthy balance during both day and night.

When I was first diagnosed as a young teenager, I felt so embarrassed to have this disease. I would refrain from telling anybody outside my family. Sometimes the comments and overall misconceptions of Type 1 Diabetes were too much for me to bear. For some reason, I had this idea that having diabetes made me lesser. I didn't feel like myself and I was consumed with the idea that I wasn't "normal" anymore. I would escape to the bathroom to test my blood sugar and give insulin privately, discreetly eat fruit snacks to treat my low glucose and cancel plans out of fear that I wouldn't be able to manage my blood by myself. I am so grateful this was just a phase. It's so important to help people understand what Type 1 Diabetes really is and how they can help.

Although it takes time, it has felt so freeing to accept that I am so much more than my diagnosis. I am not Type 1 Diabetes. For whatever reason, my pancreas stopped working. That is the reality. I can't change that. (Let's hope research does). What I can do is try every day to be my best—and safest—self and sometimes that quite literally cannot be done on my own. Now I'm in my 20's and it feels so good to be alive! Every day is a gift. I tell my employers, my coworkers, my friends, the TSA employees (cause I have to, HA!), my classmates, whoever!

My hope is that individuals struggling with disease or illness, both seen and unseen, will gain the confidence to talk about it with others and to reach out for help. It has made all the difference for me. I know that it's easy to feel isolated, hopeless and overwhelmed with the burden of health concerns. It may take one step at a time, one person at a time, but getting support and the help you need is so important. And if you have no one to talk to, reach out to me, I'll be your support system!