The value of sharing your diabetes openly and connecting with others
Just as priorities change over time, so can the way you view and live your life with diabetes. You might go through periods of time where you benefit more from keeping your condition to yourself and periods where you’ll benefit more from sharing your life with diabetes with other people.
My first 15 years of my life with diabetes
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in December 1997 when I was 19 years old. In 1997 you couldn't just Google what you wanted to know about managing diabetes and there were no social media platforms to connect with others living with diabetes on.
So I followed the guidance from my medical team, managed my diabetes to the best of my knowledge and abilities, and generally didn’t share my life with diabetes with anyone else. I wasn’t in denial or embarrassed, I just didn’t see the point in talking openly about my diabetes.
I didn’t realize how much I could gain from connecting and learning from others living with diabetes or how much others could gain from connecting with me.
I simply didn’t know what I was missing out on and thought that doing things by myself, alone, would be optimal. But now I know how much I was missing out on.
Why I started to share my life with diabetes with the world
Two major changes made me see the power of connecting with others living with diabetes. One was spending more time online and the other was that I started to exercise a lot more consistently.
In 2014, I started to exercise more consistently and realized how extremely complicated managing exercise, food, and diabetes can be. Now I had access to online resources that weren’t available in 1997 so I started to do some research. But when I looked online, I didn’t find very much usable guidance or advice. There we a lot of general advice, but nothing detailed enough for what I needed.
So, once again, I was alone, and I started my own quest in trying to figure everything out.
As I started to gain a better understanding of exercise and diabetes, I also began to document my research, my trial and error around nutrition and exercise—everything and anything I could regarding my personal diabetes education. I shared all of this online, and that is how my website DiabetesStrong.com came to be.
To my surprise, a lot of other people living with diabetes found my website. They, too, were struggling to get useful guidance on real-life diabetes management around nutrition and exercise.
That is when it finally clicked for me and I realized that being open about my experience living with diabetes actually could be really helpful for others and the world of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) opened up to me.
More or less overnight, I found a whole community of people living with diabetes from all over the world, who understood diabetes and what it means to live with this condition every single day.
I found support and an entire community I didn’t even know I was missing. I was as being united with a family I didn’t even know I had. Since that day, I’ve jumped in with both feet and am very active in the online diabetes community, on Instagram and Facebook.
There are many other places you can find the online community outside these platforms but those two are my favorites.
You can find small communities for everything related to diabetes. There are Facebook groups for people who exercise, parents, people using pumps, you name it.
You don’t have to dive in feet first, you can dip your toes by signing up for one social media platform and just observe for a while. Not all platforms will be the right place for everyone and you might find that the tone in one Facebook group suits you better than another or that Instagram or Twitter is more your style. Whatever your style is, I promise you, you can find others who share it.
Looking forward to seeing you in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC)