Find Your Community

4/6/16
WRITTEN BY: Hannah Lambert
FacebookTwitterEmail
 

Type 1 diabetes can be very overwhelming, but that is okay! Life always seems to be throwing curve balls, and this diagnosis is a big one. I was diagnosed at the age of 12 in 2005 with no family history and had never even heard the word “diabetes” before. The word itself to a 12-year-old is actually quite terrifying. I personally translated it to “die-abetes.” Luckily my doctor quickly addressed I wasn’t going to die, but that I needed to be treated immediately in the hospital for a blood sugar of 780.

This is a life-altering event to not only the individual diagnosed, but also to their loved ones as well. Processing this new change can be difficult at first and even years down the line. Personally, it really didn’t sink in that I would have this the rest of my life, until I was in high school, and that really affected me emotionally. Every individual touched by diabetes goes on their own journey, learning about their identity and how diabetes fits in, and it is important at this time to learn your own coping mechanisms in order to facilitate better physical and mental health.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mental health can at times sound like fuzzy territory that is difficult to understand or explain, but the more we acknowledge it, the less scary it seems and more manageable it becomes. As humans, we are meant to interact with each other because that is what allows us to grow as a person and develop into the unique individuals we are today. I cannot put enough emphasis on the importance of reaching out to the diabetes community, not only for those diagnosed but also for family and close friends.

My way of reaching out was attending the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life conference in Orlando, Florida, less than 2 months after being diagnosed. The impact this conference has had on my life is nothing short of life-changing. I can still remember, when I was 12, idolizing everyone I met because they were all so friendly and open about themselves. When diabetes was the subject, everyone — parents, siblings, friends — could empathize so well with each other. That is how I was introduced to the diabetes world. Seeing that empathy and being told everything was going to be okay, set the tone for my diagnosis and my life.

I discovered that being a part this community boosts my mental health as well as my family’s each year we attended the conference. It was important to keep my family involved in this process because it affected them too. The conference ensures inclusion of everyone each year by hosting sessions specifically for those affected. They encourage you to share stories and learn new information, which also promotes positive growth.

hannah lambert 9

It is easy to get lost in the doubt and frustration that comes along with this diagnosis and it isn’t always easy reaching out. This is why I can’t emphasize enough on how important it is to make the effort or help someone make the effort to reach out. Whether you reach out online, join a local support group, or sign up to attend a conference, you should be proud of yourself. It will hold you up during the hard times. Knowing you are not alone is the most therapeutic revelation one can have.


 

Read more: “Victor Garber on Knowing You’re Not Alone”



Hannah Lambert

Hannah Lambert, BSN, RN, age 23, graduated from Quinnipiac University and hopes to one day become a CDE. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 12 years old in 2005 and hasn’t let it slow her down one bit. She loves photography, volleyball, traveling, and trying new things!