|Beautiful Alcalá de Henares.|
The Diabetes Online Community (more commonly known as DOC) really is amazing. I guess, technically, I've been a part of the DOC since diagnosis, although until recently, I guess you could say, I was dormant. Since "coming out of hibernation" I've realised just how much I missed it. It truly is one of the greatest resources out there, whether you have diabetes or another health issue. You can find blogs, forums, websites, support groups, everything!
When I was diagnosed, whilst researching diabetes (because back then I knew nothing), I came across the Diabetes Support Forum. I used it initially, asked questions, spoke to a few people, but I was still very much finding my feet with it all: it was very much my go-to for when I needed help, but I knew nothing to be able to offer advice back. It then became my refuge when my friend was showing all the text book symptoms of diabetes and I didn't know what to do. I was too close to the situation, and just couldn't think clearly, and it was the people on that forum that really helped to get me through and think properly.
I then went on a downward spiral really. I became very disconnected from...well...everything. Diabetes was no longer my priority. I'd hit that point where I started asking things like "Why me? What did I do wrong? Did I bring this on myself?" Long story short, it was not a fun ride. During this time, I'd been talking a lot to a girl who was the same age as me on the forum, and she was none other than the lovely Lizzie, with whom I am now very good friends with. Our "bond", if you will, was the fact that we were both at university trying to work through the same problems: diabetes and drinking, diabetes and exams, telling lecturers etc etc. As great as the forum was (and still is), there was something about talking to another student, in the same situation as me, that helped. As a result, we set up a Facebook group, SDUK, where there are now lots of students that we can talk to and get advice from.
Then there are the blogs! I have become an avid blog reader, and apparently writer. Never had myself pegged as someone that would write, but there you have it. It is therapeutic, and I understand why people do it. And reading other blogs helps just as much: they're generally light reads and most of the time I can realte to what has been written. You can get advice (which you talk to your healthcare team about first - full disclaimer here!), connect with others, laugh at their stories, make friends.
All in all, I honestly don't know where I would be without the DOC. Yes, I still have a great support network of people that aren't part of that community, but having that community there is something I will never take for granted. It reminds me that I'm not alone. I got a message today on the forum from a user that ended with the following:
"It really means a lot to know people care and support me"
That's what the DOC does for me. Without knowing who I am, where I come from, there is always somewhere out there willing to help me out, whether it be listen to me moan or offer advice. We pull together to help one another.
So, if you find you don't have that kind of support network, I can almost guarantee you that there are others out there feeling the same way. Therefore, my advice to you is this: if it's not there, go create it. It's worth it.