Of course there are moments when your community starts to pull away, or you move and have to restart and this can be hard. Losing a sense of community is difficult and for those that feel they have no community tend to fall between the cracks. I recently read an article from www.tinybuddah.com written by Jen Waak, that outlined the importance of having community. She actually is recounting the climb up Mount Kilimanjaro which is something I am familiar with! The six reasons highlighted in this article are: collective wisdom, pushing our limits, support and belief, new ideas, borrowed motivation, and accountability. I feel like all of these can be applied to any type of community.
Of course some communities are not face-to-face and a perfect example is the online community. Whether that's your Facebook friends you never see but always keep in touch with or in my case, the diabetes online community (DOC) that is made of an abundance of people just like myself living with diabetes all over the world. I can apply the reasons community is important to how I feel towards the diabetes online community and here is why:
When you're diagnosed with diabetes, you come without any knowledge. Unless someone in your family has diabetes and you've been exposed to it, most do not know much about diabetes upon diagnosis. I thought I knew some things about diabetes, but it was all in relation to my grandparents (the one pill a day, check blood sugar every Wednesday type of diabetics) but really I didn't know much. It takes wisdom of group (community) to help understand diabetes. My first guide was my Uncle Bill who lived with type 1 diabetes, and then my community grew, my doctors, my nurses, my new friends with diabetes. All of their collective wisdom helped me and in turn now I have gained some wisdom to put forth in my community both offline and online.
Pushing Our Limits:
Diabetes is hard. There are days that I feel like I do not want any part of diabetes and I give about 10% of my effort, other days I am on top of things giving at least 80%. It's hard to deal with diabetes 24/7 (for the rest of your life) and be alone. We need community to lift is up and push our limits when we thought we have reached an end. There are days that I get very upset about having diabetes and I need my community to remind me that this isn't the end, and give me that push that I need to get through the next 24 hours.
Support and Belief:
This is huge. Anytime I talk to someone struggling with their diabetes, I ensure them that there is an online community that is waiting with open arms. Whether you be the person with diabetes or a parent, there are so many groups on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter etc. Trying to manage diabetes without community is difficult. Having the belief that you're not alone (and you're not) and combining that with the online diabetes community - that's huge. Even if you don't want to participate in chats, I believe even being apart of it, reading others messages of frustration and triumphs can change your outlook.
I don't know about anyone else but when I am in a different space, such as a library, a local coffee shop or even a bench at the park, I have the most clear view of what I want and also new ideas. I get the ideas from the community around me and feel like I can really take on any project I have in mind. The ideas come from the atmosphere in which I am given an opportunity to be apart of. With diabetes, anytime I go to a conference, seminar or event with others that have diabetes, I feel the new ideas buzzing. While being online may not give you a fresh space to work with, being apart of different online communities may. But also, I encourage people to step out and find offline diabetes communities if possible. A good place to look is Connected in Motion or any local diabetes camps if you're within the age range.
There has been so many times that I felt enraged by my diabetes, but simply going on Instagram or Facebook and seeing others that are in the same boat as me, has given me borrowed motivation to keep going. My diabetes community is always there to motivate me, and reassuring me I am not alone.
Part of my blog is about broadcasting my accountability. I was honest about an awful a1c and the reason is that, I am accountable for my diabetes. I know that being honest and being a genuine person in the diabetes community is incredibly important. If I told you I always check ten times a day, my a1c has never been over 5.5% and I have no idea what it feels like to have diabetes burn out - I'd be lying and I am sure most of you would see right through that. Being accountable for your actions is a duty to your community and in return we can only hope for the same.
While I think this is a long winded post, I do think it is important. It backs my reasoning behind starting T1 Empowerment two years ago. Community is important, online or offline.
|Young Leaders [all living with diabetes] during the IDF Conference in Vancouver, BC in November 2015|
Some good online diabetes communities [Facebook] to be apart of are:
Type 1 Diabetes Memes (Naturally)
Beyond Type 1