The 10 best ways to help understand your diabetic loved one

10 Things Every Type 1 Diabetic Wants You To Know

Your support means so much more to us than your "advice."

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Living with an invisible disability can be interesting, especially when something goes wrong or someone assumes they know more than you do about something you live with. I've been told that I was "disgusting" for giving myself a shot in a fast food restaurant while waiting for my food, have been suggested dangerous "cures" to my incurable condition, and people just tend to wave any of my complications off —they think it "must not be that bad." Every type 1 diabetic has experienced this kind of behavior, so here are 10 things that we all want you to know about type 1 diabetes.

1. We don't need to lose weight, so stop "suggesting" that we do

Well, some of us might, but that won't cure us. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks and kills off the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans; for the layman, this means that a tiny part of our bodies are dead and losing weight won't do anything to bring them back. When people say "Just lose weight," it often feels like you're discarding everything we do to simply survive.

2. No, there's no cure

We can't pray it away. We can't just change our diet. Unless we go through pancreatic islet transplantation, a procedure that must be done several times over the course of a lifetime and is not always successful, there is nothing we can do to "repair" our bodies. By suggesting that we not give ourselves insulin and instead use a different treatment, you're asking us to meet the same fate as Syble Rossiter.

3. We need shots, just look away if you don't like it

I'll always ask my friends if they're okay with me giving myself a shot in front of them, but you can't exactly expect us to ask everyone around us if it's okay. More than once I've been told that I shouldn't be giving myself shots in public because it's "gross" or "not appropriate," but think about it from my perspective: the car is cramped, the bathroom may be dirty, and I just want to eat some food! By skipping a shot, I'm at extreme risk of hyperglycemia or even diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially lethal and extremely painful condition that requires hospitalization. Just look away if you don't like it, okay?

4. Yep, that insulin lipohypertrophy looks weird...now stop looking at it

Most of us just call it scar tissue because it looks so similar, but insulin lipohypertrophy are lumps and bumps formed under the skin caused by insulin injections. Sometimes it can be a very distinct bruise-like color, and trust me! I know it's there! Please just let me and my lumpy belly enjoy the water park in peace.

5. We may get a little irritable at times, but I promise it's not intentional!

When you have a high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), you can get a little twitchy. It has nothing to do with you per se, but when you feel that sick you're not going to be the happiest person in the world.

6. We may not always want to answer your questions

Sometimes it's absolutely okay to ask questions about our diabetes! A lot of us are happy to reeducate and properly inform people about type one diabetes. That being said, not everyone is like that and it can get awkward if that person isn't too confident about having diabetes. Just like how some people can get embarrassed about their anxiety, some diabetics aren't too secure about being a diabetic—or may simply have no interest in educating. If you have questions, Facebook groups are great places to get them answered. To start off, here is a 30 question interview with a diabetic!

7. As well-intentioned as your advice may be, we probably don't want it

It sounds rude, but it's true: unless you're an endocrinologist, a researcher, or another type one, we know our bodies better than you do. Unless you're concerned because we don't look like we're feeling well, please keep the unsolicited advice to yourself.

8. Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes are completely different things

I'll never discount type 2 diabetes, but there's nothing more infuriating than a stranger insisting that you have a condition you don't. Remember those islets of Langerhans that type ones have lost? Type 2's still have the beta cells, they just can't produce enough insulin to keep up. Instead of an autoimmune disorder, type 2 can be caused by anything from race to polycystic ovarian syndrome, though the most commonly known cause is obesity. Type 2 diabetes is far more common than type 1, and because type 2 diabetes is most often treated with exercise, a healthy diet, and weight loss, people often assume that all diabetics are either type twos or can be treated the same. That being said, all diabetics want your support but very few want unsolicited advice.

9. Some of us might get sick... a lot

All diabetics, both type 1 and 2, tend to have a higher average blood sugar than the non-diabetic. Because of this higher average, most diabetics' immune systems are weakened and we're more likely to get sick. It's not that we don't love you, we're just not coming anywhere near you when you come down with the cold.

10. Money is probably tighter for us than you would expect

$936.82. That's how much my one month supply of insulin cost after insurance. This doesn't include any of my other supplies, like the $8-12 worth of test strips I'm expected to use daily, or the $97 worth of infusion sets I'll go through in a month. Otherwise healthy people have died because they couldn't afford supplies, but the prices keep on rising. So believe me, when we say that we can't go out, it probably has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the cost of our supplies.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Your Health Journey Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Perfection takes time.

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When you first start to do something, you have all of the motivation in the world to accomplish that goal set out in front of you, especially when it comes to being healthier. The problem is as you continue through this journey and food and laziness kick in, motivation slips. It's human, and it happens to everyone no matter how physically strong they are.

Trying to be healthier doesn't always mean losing weight. It can be so your knees don't ache as much, so you don't feel as out of breath climbing stairs, or any goal you have set for yourself. Being healthier is personal and different from person to person.

I will be the first to admit that there are plenty of changes I would love to make about myself. From my weight to my body type and many other things about myself inside and out. I am by no means the most confident person about how I look, but I have worked hard for the past year to be an overall healthier person.

Becoming healthier isn't about looking thinner or fitting into a specific size of clothes. It is about taking care of yourself from eating better to working out more. There comes a feeling of confidence in what your body can do if you put a little love in it.

Perfection takes time, and I know firsthand how frustrating trying to be healthier can be.

Pizza tastes so much better than salad. It is so easy to fall into a rhythm of something that seems never to change whether that is your weight or your mile time. Sadly, you can't build a city, or become healthier overnight.

We see people who are thinner, curvier, smarter, faster, and so much more than us. We all waste time comparing ourselves to people around us and on our timelines, but some of our biggest strengths are our individuality and the gift of getting back up after falling down.

All I can say is, please don't give up on your goal of being healthier because this is solely for you. We can have a great support system in the world and have everyone in our corner, but that isn't enough.

You need yourself. You need to know that if you don't entirely put yourself in this journey, then you won't fully succeed. Your commitment to bettering yourself can keep you going even if you want to give up.

Your motivation may not be at its peak level right now, and you may have every cell in your body screaming at you to quit. Don't do it. Prove to yourself that you can keep going no matter what. Not giving up will be worth it. The results and taking the hard way will make you a stronger person inside and out.

You can do this. You can do anything you want to accomplish if you just believe in yourself. You need to understand that becoming healthier takes endurance. There will be periods where you slow down and may not be going at your fastest pace. The difference is that you are not giving up and you are still trying and moving.

Don't treat becoming healthier as a sprint: short term and quick. That mentality will only leave you feeling deflated and defeated. It is a life-long marathon of pacing yourself and pushing yourself further than ever before.

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