Taking into consideration the state of the world at the moment and all of the current goings on, diabetes week this year definitely felt different. (Well, it did for me.) There have been a lot of current, pressing and important issues that have been at the forefront of the world right now and rightly so – it just so happens that diabetes week fell in the midst of it all. I really did feel like the online presence diabetes week usually has wasn’t quite the same this year – and that is completely understandable. I planned on posting a lot of content but right at the start of the week I received some awful family related news, which made it a difficult week. But, alas, we can see what was going on amidst everything and how everyone worked together to spread some diabetes content and stories!
Diabetes UK organises diabetes week every year and this year it ran from Monday 8th June – Sunday 14th June 2020. The aim of the annual diabetes week is to raise awareness and encourage people living with diabetes to share their stories. This year diabetes week focused on #TheBigPicture. As a community we wanted to show the highs, lows, achievements and setbacks that diabetes can produce on a daily basis – therefore showing what “the big picture” really is. Obviously, due to COVID-19 there couldn’t be any diabetes meetups or charity events this year, but hopefully we will rectify that for next year!
For the people who know me, you know that I am very open when it comes to talking about my type 1 diabetes. I think communication is key. I don’t ever try to hide anything – at the end of the day it’s a part of me and a part of my life. I don’t feel ashamed to admit when things aren’t going quite right because I am only human. There are so many factors that can affect type 1 diabetes and some of these factors are unfortunately out of our control. (For example emotions are a huge factor that we can’t control. We can’t live our lives without them! Annoyingly, they have a huge impact on blood sugar levels.) Equally, I think it’s important to share the positives that occur with my type 1 diabetes too, because sharing that information can help so many others who are riding the waves on the same boat. It also shows that you can live a happy and healthy life to the best of your ability. I always say that I control my diabetes, I don’t let it control me.
I always talk about how the general public (through no intentional fault of their own) are massively uneducated when it comes to diabetes. It doesn’t help when the media like to spread incorrect information and misleading headlines. They also have a habit of bundling type 1 and type 2 diabetes under the same umbrella, when in reality, they are very different. Having a week like diabetes week is so important to try and spread awareness. Learning about diabetes for a week is nothing compared to living with it for the rest of your life. I truly admire the non-diabetics who take the time to learn all about it. I love being asked questions about my life with type 1. I can educate and inform and that’s the key to helping the public to understand.
Diabetes UK shared a lot of content during diabetes week which was great to see and get involved with. They garnered a lot of interactions from fellow type 1s and type 2s who shared their own stories. From the wonderful shared content, it was very clear to see that diabetes is a very personal condition. Many people (like myself) feel extremely comfortable with sharing information, when others are a lot more private.
On Instagram Diabetes UK shared a video from poet Duke (@dukealdurham) called ‘Hidden Hypos’ where he explains his thoughts about feeling the need to hide his hypos from others. Hypos are a funny thing because they can completely take control of you. A hypo (hypoglycemia) is when your blood sugar level drops below 4.0mmols. Hypos can be dangerous and if left untreated can even be fatal. If someone is having a hypo they need something sugary in order to bring their blood sugar levels back up. The amount of times during a hypo that someone has asked me “do you need your insulin?!” is astounding. Taking insulin during a hypo would cause your levels to plummet even lower and it’s extremely dangerous. The complete opposite of what you are needing in that moment. Sometimes my hypos cause me to become extremely vacant and glazed. When I was younger I used to get extremely agitated and blunt. I mostly tend to shake and sweat profusely, but they affect everyone in a different way. It was very open and honest for Duke to share his poem, as like I said, it’s an extremely personal thing.
It was also great to see so many handwritten stories being shared too. Just a brief snippet into how people feel about living with diabetes. This definitely added to creating the bigger picture. Here’s mine:
Looking on Instagram at the #TheBigPicture and #DiabetesWeek what was incredible to see was the amount of positive diabetes posts that I saw. I feel that it’s so important to talk about diabetes positively. Yes, it can be a burden but if you’ve got it for life, you might as well make the most of it. Take control and live your life to it’s fullest.
Diabetes really is testing mentally and physically, so seeing positive posts is the most encouraging thing. What the majority of type 1s (I can’t necessarily speak on behalf of the type 2s) do really well, is support each other. The type 1 community is so active on social media and there’s always someone to turn to in times of need, or even just to garner some advice.
I look forward to diabetes week next year and hope that the world will be a different place by then. In the mean time, I will continue to spread awareness and educate others. I am going to actively post more diabetes related content on my social media platforms, so look out for them!
Stay safe everyone!