Today’s guest post was written by Alanna Swartz. She blogs over at Life on T1 , and was kind enough to respond to my call for guest posts. Thanks for the post and for telling us a little about yourself, Alanna!
I am Alanna Swartz, a 28 year old woman living in Halifax, Nova Scotia (great white north). I am a type one diabetic and have been since 1990. I have been on an insulin pump since 1999. While I am relatively new to the doc and blog world, I have been networking and volunteering and working with the diabetes community since diagnosis. I am currently starting to train to complete a JDRF long distance cycle in Death Valley in 2014 and I love my dog
Reaching out & Finding Community
While this mostly applies to my personal experience living with type one diabetes, I think it can apply to anyone living with chronic illness, mental illness or even general day-to-day struggles.
When Mike put out a call for someone to make a guest post on his blog, I jumped at the chance. I don’t know Mike personally, only through the online community that has net itself together through living with diabetes, but when someone in that community needs help for any task I feel the need to reach out and do what I can. Admittedly in the hours that passed after me agreeing to do a guest post I was a little confused as to what I would write about.
I wanted to touch on how important finding community is. I think that a lot of people living with diabetes can agree that without community, you start to lose your sense of self. It starts to feel like you are letting yourself get defined by your disease, and that is where you can start to slip. Once you have to make the decision between treating your illness or having a life to call your own, the choice starts to become easy that you would rather live your life than treat it.
That’s when community becomes so important. Finding someone who can say “I know” and truly, honestly mean it is so important on the road to being healthy–mentally and physically. I think we have something special, us members of the DOC (diabetes online community) we have people all over the world who we can reach out to literally 24 hours a day for support mentally and emotionally when dealing with what can be an every day struggle.
What I am trying to say is that there is no shame in reaching out. We are taught by media, the Internet, talk shows, and sometimes even loved ones that we should be ashamed by our condition; diabetes means you have been lazy, heart disease means you ate too much, depression means you aren’t trying hard enough…these are things that are thrown at us every day, and the only way we can overcome the stereotypes, and help ourselves, is to reach out.
Take the time and tweet, write, email, blog and ask for a hand. We are all in it together and together we are stronger because of it. When we are at our lowest our community can lift us up and get us to where we need to be to take care of ourselves.