As a person living with type one diabetes, I like to think I know a fair amount about it. I may not be able to tell you much about the science behind it, but I do know what it's like to live with day in, day out, and I do my best to keep it in line. Obviously, I have my bad days, the most recent one which can be read about here. On these bad days, I get frustrated, and I need an outlet. The easiest outlet is to eat, but I'm trying to avoid that particular outlet at the moment. Right now, I have a good relationship with food, and I want to keep it that way, but that's a post for another day. I've taken to going for walks recently. I'd love to be able to hit the gym and really let go of the pent-up anger, but I can't afford the gym here in Spain. But, more often than not, I just need to vent. Like, 'let-rip' style vent.
Now, on such occasions, I am incredibly lucky to have a number of people/places to whom/which I could go to. First off, there are places like the Diabetes Support Forum and SDUK. However, as awesome as online support is, sometimes I really want to talk to someone I know, face to face. There are friends that also have diabetes that I have got to know personally that I can talk to, and then there are my friends from home and uni, that see me manage (well, try to manage) my diabetes on a day-to-day basis.
However, I'm not in England, I'm on my year abroad, and that very much limits my options when those bad, relentless, frustrating days strike. But there is one particular friend I have here who will listen to me vent. I'm going to call her Smiley as she is literally the happiest person I've ever met! When I need to talk diabetes, she listens politely, tells me I'll get there and gives me the biggest squeeze of a hug; she always manages to put a smile on my face.
We were in class the other day, and a hypo struck, and straight away she was "on it" asking me if I was okay and telling me she had Coke and cereal bars in her bag if I needed it. It wasn't until after that I then thought to myself why does she have these things in her bag? I mean, it's not like she has diabetes. When I asked her, she said she packed them just in case as she'd noticed I'd been hypo-ing a lot recently.
Then I thought more about it. At my closest friends' houses, I am guaranteed to find sweetener instead of sugar for my cups of tea. And they will almost certainly have some form of "diet" soft drink. And phrases and sentences such as "Food's here, time to shoot up" or "5s all day?! You're practically cured!" and "What are you thinking? X grams of carb?" are completely normal. More to the point, I don't even think they realise they do and say such things. They "get it" and they don't realise it at all. And I love that. It's just become a part of their lives just as much as it's become a part of my life. I mean, I'm pretty sure my housemate, Shep, still buys diet drinks even though she is also on her year abroad, and therefore has no need to!
I may have the "tools" to manage my diabetes well, but it's my family and friends that really help with my emotional health. There's more to controlling my diabetes than just blood tests, insulin and a good healthcare team. It's those that I see and speak to day in day out that play the biggest role in my diabetes management.