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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Support Systems and You

...Yes, that is meant to sound like one of those self-help books.  (These are the jokes, people)

I've recently been talking to some other diabetic teens around the country, which I think is awesome (the more the merrier, right?), but I was really interested when one of them told me it was great to meet another diabetic kid.  Confused, I asked if there were any other diabetic kids around at school or in the neighborhood.  They said no.  And that got me thinking.

Maybe I'm a bit spoiled;

I'm part of a group called the JDRF Youth Ambassadors.  That's how I met amazing people like Alexis (the author of the amazing blog, Chronicles of D-Boy and Ribbon, but I'm wasting my time; you've all heard of her, right?).  We all help out around our community, and we're all best friends.  The picture above was from our last big thing, where we painting a picture to be sold at the JDRF 2012 Gala (yes, that picture there.  Are we talented or what?).  And maybe the coolest part?  Every kid in that picture up there is a diabetic.

Support is such a huge part of the diabetes experience.  It is virtually impossible to get the upper hand on this disease without support.  I compare it to it's easier to scare people with a big group behind you that looks equally pissed at whoever you're pissed at.  There's strength in numbers.  And this is one number in diabetes that can be as large as you want and it's still good.

Now most diabetics usually have a great support system in their families.  That's important too.  I've had so much support from my parents and aunts and uncles and cousins, I can't begin to thank them enough.  But yet, there's something about being at the same level as your peers, and being able to find new friends with your same interests who have to deal with the same disease you do.  Plus its kind of fun to have a group where you can all rant about those annoying teachers who just don't get diabetes.

I feel like I've made so many new friends in the Youth Ambassadors, and we have a great time at events (just so long as we keep the boys separated; they could tear a room apart in two minutes flat).  And if I've learned anything from them, it's that support from your peers as well as your family is so important.  Now I'm not going to tell you to go sign your kid up to the Youth Ambassador program, and tell you how happy they'll be when they do.  Everyone's different.  But based on my personal experience, it seems like the diabetic kids are the coolest around.

I feel like that's also a part of why I'm doing this blog.  I want to make it something that people can relate to.  I can sit here and type out all the random crap I can about diabetes like some 'professional' websites do, but I feel like that doesn't reach you as much as personal stories and experiences, especially from kids.  When you see those advertisements for the no finger blood sugar meters (which does not mean no blood; I'd love to see them include that in the ad), do you see any teenagers in there?  Any kid or young adult?  What about the 'instructional videos' talking about how diabetes is not the end of the world.  They don't show what a struggle this is.  They don't tell you there will be days where your blood sugar just won't come down no matter how much insulin you give.  That some nights you'll be up every hour checking blood sugars.  That things you used to eat every day will become special occasion foods.

This.  Is.  A.  Struggle.

And having people to talk to about it is important.  Keeping those emotions bottled up is not good.  Trust me, I know.  And when you meet people going trough the same thing, it becomes a little easier.

Before I sign off on this post, there's one more thing I wanted to share.  I recently got this book, No-Sugar Added Poetry.  It's filled with poems from different people all over the world with one thing in common; diabetes.  Some of them are dark, some of them make you think, but it speaks to you.  I think it's something all diabetics need to look at at least once.  If you're interested in the book, check it out here.

Support; the one diabetic number that keeps growing and won't hurt you.

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