People living with type 1 diabetes vary greatly in how we each approach discussing the diabetes aspects of our lives. For example, I know some people who do not even want anyone to know that they have diabetes. They don’t want to think about it, deal with it, or seem “different” from their peers. I also know people on the other side of the spectrum, who always wear their sites in a visible place, incorporate diabetes into every conversation, and share every diabetes-related article on Facebook.
Because everyone’s degree of comfort with the disease is different, there is obviously varying rates of advocacy. Some people religiously sign up for JDRF events and fundraise year round. Others write about their story and experiences with type 1 diabetes on the Internet, hoping for people to better understand them. There are people who go to Washington D.C., and speak to congress about providing funds for diabetes research. And there are even some people who want nothing to do with diabetes advocacy. The thing is, all of these advocacy avenues are fine in their own ways.
I honestly believe that as long as you are healthy and have good control of your diabetes, then the extent to which you advocate is up to you. If you feel like reaching out to others and gaining support makes you feel better about yourself, and in return makes you manage your diabetes better, then that is great. If you would rather remain low key and not advocate, but you are still doing everything to live your healthiest life, then that is okay too.
I truly believe in a healthy balance between advocacy and trying to be as “normal” as possible. I inform my friends of what to do in an emergency, and if I need them to wait for me while I change my pump, or grab me a juice box from the fridge when I am low, I have no problem letting them know. However, I do not talk about it all the time, nor do they think I let diabetes define who I am. Often, they forget I have type 1 diabetes. However, I do participate in the JDRF walk and the College Diabetes Network, as well as write for this blog, because it makes me feel like there are good things that come from living with type 1 diabetes. It makes me feel empowered, and in return I manage my diabetes better.
How do you feel about advocacy?