Age: 24 Year Diagnosed: 2019 Location: Chicago, IL

“The first few weeks after I was diagnosed, I had a lot of “poor me” and “why me” moments. After having the disease for a few months, it may be weird to say but I don’t dislike my diabetes. I try not to think of diabetes in such a negative way anymore. Sure, it is a pain in the pancreas sometimes, but I have grown as a person through my diagnosis. I think one of the best things I did was reach out to other diabetics online and even ones that I used to know in college. Finding people who can relate to you and understand that diabetes is more than just a diet change can really help justify your feelings and create another platform of support. I went to a type one meetup the month after my diagnosis, created a diabetes-centered Instagram account, shared my diagnosis with all my friends and family, and started writing about my feelings in a blog online. I get frustrated at the lack of understanding in the world about type one diabetes, so it would be unfair if I didn’t try to educate and share my story with the people I surround myself with. I don’t want to hide my diabetes – I want to display the disease proudly and share my experiences with others to help them learn from my mistakes. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and I think diabetes happened to me for many reasons. It’s only been a few months, and I have already found a few of those reasons— most importantly the many new friendships with people I would have never spoken to if we all had perfectly-functioning pancreases.

My best advice to anyone with diabetes is to not be so hard on yourself. After I was diagnosed, I went online and researched everything like crazy trying to solve every issue I thought I might have with diabetes before it even happened to me. I got worked up about my body not having “normal” reactions to my favorite meals, and when my blood sugar spiked I got discouraged. I am in dental school, and I have that perfectionist mindset which is a blessing and a curse. I learned a lot about diabetes in dental school and how much the disease can impact overall oral and systemic health if left uncontrolled. I had an A1C of over 13 at my diagnosis, so knowing this and having a general knowledge of how high blood sugar can damage your body scared me into basically banning most sugar from my diet and being a crazy careful carb counter. Thankfully, I have learned that I can still have decent control over my sugars without saying no to every food I used to eat. I have a huge sweet tooth, so it only took a few weeks of trying to unsweeten my body before I realized there was no way I could keep avoiding chocolate chip cookies for the rest of my life!! Does every insulin dose I give always cover my carbs exactly? No. Do I have to eat low carb every day to have good control over my diabetes? No. Do I still stress about going low or spiking too high after meals? Of course. I guess what I am saying is, I have found that it is better to laugh off the bad days with diabetes instead of dwelling on the mistakes you will inevitably make. I have noticed that when something is not going the way I want in terms of my diabetes management, beating myself up only makes my blood sugars worse! Diabetes isn’t a joke, but when you start to give yourself room to make mistakes and laugh things off, it really helps sweeten your perspective.”