3 Ways friendship with a fellow T1D improved our diabetes health

Author
May 3, 2022

Hi everyone! I’m Sarah, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I was diagnosed with type one diabetes seventeen years ago. I’m Megan from a small town outside of Princeton, New Jersey and was diagnosed with T1D nine years ago. 

We are both graduates of the September 2021 Decide and Conquer Bootcamp, are currently doing 1:1 coaching with Coach Jess and Coach Trista, and have created an incredible friendship through the Risely programs we joined! We both entered the program looking for support with our diabetes management and connection with other women living with T1D, but underestimated the value of what a T1D friendship would add to our lives. 

Through the Risely coaching programs and our unexpected friendship, we realized we finally had the tools we needed to acknowledge and take ownership of our diabetes instead of avoiding it. The friendship we created in the DCB gave us more confidence in ourselves, helped us support each other, and showed us the value of knowing there is someone else out there who can relate to us. 

Three unexpected takeaways from our TID friendship:

1. We got support we never knew we needed.

Have you ever had a day where your sugars were crazy, which led to a negative mindset, and you felt like the worst diabetic in the world? As a T1D, this happens! Imagine having someone who has ALSO felt that way and could relate 100% of the time- it changes everything. 

It’s not a secret that our mental health is at greater risk with a diagnosis of T1D (we are 2-3x more likely to have depression!), and having someone else who can relate to the highs and lows (literally) makes a big difference.

This mutual understanding and validation changed both our perspective and mindset towards our blood sugar management, leading to better outcomes and peace within ourselves. 

2. Seeing our challenges reflected in someone else allowed us to be more compassionate to ourselves. 

So many of us with diabetes can relate to having high expectations for ourselves, AKA perfectionism. If you’re not currently a perfectionist, you are probably a recovering perfectionist (credit to Lauren Bongiorno for sharing this term!). 

We are taught from diagnosis that there are certain quantitative markers of success (A1C, TIR, target blood sugar, etc). Pair those numbers with a perfectionist mindset and diabetes can quickly become all-consuming and isolating. Since being perfect is unattainable, we are left in a constant cycle of not meeting our goals (ie. my blood sugar must be in control at all times) and beating ourselves up for it.

In our experiences, striving for perfect control has only led to more difficulty controlling our sugars. Now, when one of us has a blood sugar struggle, we are able to provide each other with a non-judgmental and compassionate stance. This allows us to feel empowered to stay curious rather than critical

How has our friendship helped in re-framing our perspective on diabetic perfectionism? We hold each other accountable and remind each other that we are worthy of compassion, patience, and grace on good days and bad days. 

3.  We gained a partner (who can relate on a personal level) in troubleshooting tough diabetes days. 

Diabetes loves unpredictability almost as much as we love striving for perfectionism. Our family, friends, and co-workers are usually super supportive, but, to no fault of theirs, don’t know the ins and outs of our diabetes. How many times have you had to tell a loved one the difference between a bolus or basal? Or that you CAN eat the brownie? 

During these unpredictable times (the motto of everyone’s last two years and our everyday lives), having someone that you can bounce ideas off of and who understands can make tough times feel less isolating. Instead of frantically trying to find out information on your own during a bad high (you know the Google rabbit hole we’re talking about…), you have someone you can text for ideas or just a listening ear

Have you ever acted impulsively when seeing a high number?! Rage bolusing, chugging water, checking your sugar 100 times… we have all been there! T1D friendship also helps ground you when your sugar wants to take your brain elsewhere :) 

In summary, do you ever feel isolated with T1D and just wish you could talk to someone who GETS it? Do you ever feel so defeated by your sugars some days and just need a pick-me-up? Risely connects you with so many people who have similar goals to you and it’s worth reaching out to see if they have a program or resource that might be a good fit for you. 

We have both made so much progress since ending the Decide and Conquer Group Coaching Bootcamp, and we agree that so much of that progress came from the incredible friendship we built through this program! We hope that if you are reading this, you are lucky enough to have a T1D friend too <3

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