Oh, independence – it’s a double edged-sword. I thought for a while that I wanted to do diabetes on my own. I quickly discovered that isolating yourself makes managing everything – diet, blood sugar, exercise, and every other detail – so much harder. Interdependence is the way to go.
College taught me that. I am a rising senior at the University of Arkansas, and when I left home for the first time, I was so relieved to check my blood sugar without my parents breathing down my neck. What I didn’t see coming was the feeling of isolation. Out of the blue, I was the ONLY one concerned about my blood sugar. It was lonely, and my mental health took a complete nose dive.
Instead of feeling like the victim (but don’t get me wrong, I had that period) I looked outward. I started a chapter of an organization called the College Diabetes Network on my campus in hopes of connecting with other T1Ds. What I found was an entire group of T1Ds on my campus who felt the exact same way as I did. Suddenly, there were people who got it – the struggles, the funny parts, and the things that make us feel different.
I found what I had been missing – a sense of interdependence on people who actually, fully understood an entire part of me.
My T1D tribe is powerful. We are ALL interdependent on one another. We check on each other. We meet up to stuff our faces together and simultaneously bolus together. We talk about new technology that’s going to make our lives easier. We also offer advice on how to deal with the holes in the health care system. We’re interdependent, and that makes it harder to feel alone.
Here’s the big picture of what I know about interdependence: It’s never you and your diabetes against the world. Having a community to remind you of that somehow makes diabetes less scary.