By Kitty (she/her), 20
When I hear loss and gain I think more about sacrifices I have to make and how my experiences have changed my personality. When I was first diagnosed, it was all a bit dramatic and it wasn’t clear what my life would be like so at that stage, I hadn’t gained or lost anything. However, 6 years down the line, my life couldn’t be more different. The sacrifices I make each day centre mainly around planning, self care and limiting myself. Having diabetes limited the way I spent my teenage years, I need to be more careful and responsible when I drink or go to parties or even just when I leave the house for the day or have to walk further than I was expecting. As a young teenager, I just remember feeling how incredibly unfair it was but then I think lots of teenagers feel that way and I am so lucky in many ways. Now that I’m a bit older, I can accept that its just going to be part of my life forever and I can just plan as much as possible so that I don’t have to limit myself beyond what is unavoidable. At university I started rowing which alongside most students studying full time is a challenge but for me it can be extra hard sometimes. I think the reason for this is that people don’t really understand how serious my conditions can be and how serious it can turn very quickly. If I have a hypo for example, I feel unwell but that’s not the reason I have to stop rowing- I would keep going if it was just that. People don’t understand that if I don’t stop then I will go unconscious but I think for people on the outside, they might think I’m just not feeling very well or making excuses. Not thinking too much into this is hard for me because I do care about what the people around me think and so to avoid this, I try to educate where I can. Another thing about managing a demanding schedule is making sure I have doctors appointments organised and prescriptions ready in advance. The people close to me have some level of understanding but even those closest to me like my mum or boyfriend would get things wrong if I left my diabetes care up to them. I think the thing that is so hard is knowing I won’t ever get a day off from this and that if I don’t give 100% to it every day to keep myself healthy then I can go blind, have renal failure jeopardise pregnancies and potentially die suddenly. When my blood glucose isn’t in the healthy range, I can feel really uncomfortable and I can get very confused but to the outside or to someone who doesn’t understand my condition, they have no idea why. I also have to think about things like where I am going on holidays because of the health care system there, how effective my insurance is, how long I’m there for and plan for if I am stuck there; how cold it is outside and how stressed exams are going to make me because these can all slightly affect my levels which in the long run can seriously effect my health. On top of all of this physical stress, diabetes is a huge psychological load to deal with which isn’t very widely understood. It has been hard to come to terms with the fact that im never going to get better and that I will always feel a bit rubbish and my life will always have to revolve around it.