Finding out that you have diabetes is a very difficult concept to process, no matter the age. But being that I was 12 years old at the time, I feel that it inhibited my conscious effort to accept being diabetic. Looking back, I'm surprised that I'm alive today.
For years and years -- I had a really hard time.
It was a time in my life where I was starting to figure out who I was -- starting middle school -- making friends -- just being a kid like everyone else.
I didn't want to "stand out" or be picked on for being different. It's sad to say, but "hey it's the truth."
I wanted to eat what I wanted -- when I wanted -- no questions asked. I didn't want to take on this responsibility. I could barely clean my room.
It's like being given something that you never asked for. But now that I'm older, I'm married, I have my three children and a great life. What more can you ask for? I have it all, and then some.
I can do anything except make insulin
If I could tell my 12-year-old self what I know today it would be:
1) You're braver than you think and stronger than you know
Don't think of this as a "weakness." Think of it as an opportunity to find the strength and courage that you didn't even know existed.
Remember, you were given this life because you're strong enough to live it.
You're capable of battling diabetes. Control diabetes -- don't let it control you! You have the potential for greatness, always believe that.
2) Beauty fades, your health is forever.
Don't be overly consumed in "your looks." To live the best quality of life -- you need to take care of yourself first. By doing so, you'll make it to the best days of your life.
Seeing your daughter walk down the aisle -- your son graduate college -- watching your grandchildren walk for the first time -- and relaxing somewhere on a beach when your 70.
3) Know that there will be bad days. But the best days are yet to come
You will have your bad days and your failures. This is what molds you into the person you will become. Without these experiences in your life, you wouldn't learn the important lessons that make you the person you're supposed to be.
Learn from your mistakes -- find ways to improve -- and rest assured that it will get easier.
4) Listen to your family's concerns. They may not offer the best support, but they mean well
They don't always give the best advice. Nor can they put themselves directly in your shoes. But they want what's best for you.
Fighting against them -- Having anger -- Feeling sorry for yourself -- isn't going to change a thing.
They never wanted this to happen to you. Take what was given to you and understand people can only offer so much support. Nobody can fix it or take it away from you. You have to dig deep within yourself and find that strength. In the end, you control your destiny.
5) Don't be embarrassed by carrying around insulin syringes in school
There will be your peers who assume you use needles for "other purposes" or have their questions. Some will even stare at you when you go to check your sugar or take your insulin. Don't be embarrassed or feel like an outcast.
"Ignorance is bliss," they say. It's true, just because they don't understand doesn't mean you should hide from it.
Share with them, let them know that this is what it takes for you to stay alive. The people who love and care for you will understand and want to know more.
6) Educating yourself about Diabetes is key
When you educate yourself, you're honoring yourself. You need to know everything there is to know about diabetes.
Knowledge is power -- and it gives you insight into what can happen if you don't take care of yourself.
Shutting information out and not wanting to learn, you're only hurting yourself and no one else. You will be surprised that there's so much to learn, and it will make you feel good to let it all in.
7) Find help when necessary. Suck up your pride.
It's okay to ask for help, there's no shame in that. Managing diabetes can get very overwhelming. Ask your family, friends, physician, or even attend support groups.
Keep an open mind and know that you're going to need help - just know to ask - and know where to find it.
It doesn't mean you're a weaker person -- if anything you're courageous enough to ask and take control.
8) This isn't a fad, this is a lifestyle change
Diabetes isn't going to go away. Unless, they find a cure in your lifetime. But right now, this is what you have to deal with. You're going to have to make changes and accept this new way of life. Even if you try to ignore it, it's still going to be there.
This lifestyle isn't the worst thing in the world. Yes, you will have to take insulin injections several times a day and check sugars frequently.
But you will also be watching what you eat and making sure to exercise. This will not only make you a healthy diabetic -- but a healthy individual regardless.
9) Open up it's okay to be vulnerable.
Yes, It's going to be hard to express your feelings or thoughts at times. You're human. But the best therapy is just talking about it. Getting it all out there. Break down the walls. No, someone that's not diabetic may not fully understand. But people do sympathize and want to find ways to show they care. The more you open up, the less insecure you will feel.
10) This is a blessing in disguise. Embrace it.
You can look at this illness for the negatives, or you can look at it for the positives. The positives are what are going to help you get through it.
The way it makes you a better person -- Gives you a new perspective on health -- Makes you appreciate life more -- and gives you the strength to conquer anything.