It always shocks and saddens me when I meet a person who has lived with diabetes for years and years without having ever had the chance to connect in real life with another diabetic. While forums and online communities are incredible, there is something about sitting across a table in your local coffee shop from another person who lives with this disease.
Simply having someone you can call, meet up with for lunch, or even just text, “My blood sugar is 348 mg/dL! Insulin expired! Bleh! This sucks!” is an intangibly wonderful thing. It’s gives you something that even your greatest type 3s (the people who love and support you) can’t give you.
I know I can always log on to my own Facebook page or Diabetes Daily’s and reach out to fellow PWDs (people with diabetes) whom I’ve never met in real life for this venting/support, but through the years I’ve always discovered a small but powerfully supportive community of PWDs in the town where I live.
Some of these people I met online first, and then proceeded to meet with in real life. Others I simply met by being involved in local diabetes events, and most importantly: not ever hiding the fact that I do live with diabetes.
One of my favorite local PWDs is a woman my age whom I was introduced to by a mutual friend. She dated a friend of mine briefly, they remained friends, and after a couple months it finally dawned on him that he should introduce us, merely for the fact that we both have diabetes. She is awesome, and she’s also someone I know I can call or text any time I need to.
Another local PWD is another woman I met at the gym who had recognized my name and face from an online community, though we had never really spoken to each other online. She introduced herself and we’ve been close friends ever since.
There are support groups, mentor programs (where adults mentor kids), and non-profit organizations in your community that could lead to incredible friendships with people who know exactly what life is like with diabetes. The inexplicable support that comes from simply knowing someone down the road who lives with this disease is, I promise, worth the extra effort of putting yourself out there.
The most important step: being confidently open about the fact that you live with diabetes. I wear diabetes proudly on my sleeve, because I’m proud of myself for managing it day-in and day-out. If I hide my diabetes, I will limit my ability to connect with other people in this disease. Through being outspoken about diabetes, I meet new people and make new friends who live minutes from my home all the time.
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