For 18 years of my life, I was embarrassed to admit I was a Type 1 diabetic. I was embarrassed to admit I was different from everyone I went to school with. I was embarrassed I had to eat or drink juice in front of peers when the time didn't permit. I was embarrassed to pull out a syringe during a dinner date or sneak off to the bathroom at unusual times to inject myself with what kept me alive. And most importantly, I was embarrassed that people might label me only as the diabetic girl. Some might call my embarrassment juvenile, but I call it juvenile diabetes.
Diabetes is often described as the roller coaster disease. I was forced to understand at a young age that this disease may never be conquered, and it will be a daily struggle of viewing food as the enemy and your best friend, while also balancing your emotional highs and lows with blood sugar readings. I think the majority of my life I have been apologizing for comments I've made when my blood sugar was totally out of sync. Fortunately for me, everyone is always apologizing for inappropriate comments on a presidential campaign, so that was the only time I ever fit in.
When I was little, I was the poster child of a perfect Type 1 diabetic. I attended multiple Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation events and even started a national "Bag of Hope" program with my mom, which helped others cope emotionally after being diagnosed with the same disease. Diabetes was a struggle, but I was willing to fight it and overcome the malicious disease, until I hit 9th grade of high school.
High school is just an awkward time in everyone's lives. I wish I could go back in time and hug my 14-year-old self and say, "Everything is going to be OK, stay strong, Liddy." As well as "Liddy, those Timberland boots will continue to haunt you for the rest of your life. Don't wear them!" Unfortunately, we don't have time machines yet, so I can't take back those awkward moments, moments that ruined my relationship with diabetes for the last 10 years.
Through high school and college I tried my hardest to hide my disease. And there was no way I was ever going to try the modern-day device of an insulin pump. I made up every excuse to always sneak off to the bathroom to inject myself with insulin and why I always had juice in my purse. I mean, how many people actually love orange juice so much, they keep it in their purse 24/7? And when it came to dating, forget about it. I once admitted to a guy I was dating that I was diabetic and his response was "Is it fatal?" That relationship clearly didn't go very far.
I was carried away with having other people accept this disease for me, instead of accepting it for myself. It didn't hit me until I was 25 that I had wasted a lot of time and effort in ignoring one of the most imperative relationships I will ever have in life and that was my relationship with diabetes.
November is National Diabetes Month, and I am finally not embarrassed to say I am a Type 1 diabetic. It took 18 years of my life and the young age of 25 to admit I have this disease. It sounds ludicrous when I say it out loud, but I think most people struggle with accepting something they think is unconventional about themselves. Adversities and unique inadequacies are what make an individual different from the next. Our genetic footprint is locked in science and there's not much we can do to change that. But what we can change however, is our attitude and how we cope with adversity. Thriving on a relationship with oneself is the first relationship one should establish. People will come and go in life, but at the end of the day, it's just you and your weird, beautiful flaws. If you can't embrace and love your imperfections, then it's unfeasible to be able to love others. And what's life without the most powerful emotion, LOVE?