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Learning from shared diabetes experiences

One of the ways people learn is through observing and assessing the actions of others who are in a similar situation. This same principle can be applied to daily diabetes management, where there’s a huge amount of collective experience and knowledge in the diabetes community waiting to be tapped.

Diabetes is currently estimated to directly affect 463m people globally from 20 to 79 years old. That’s approximately 6% of the world’s population. Add in those under 20 living with the disease, plus family members and other people who provide support on a daily basis, and there’s a vast amount of people continually tackling new challenges and breaking down barriers to manage their diabetes.

The benefits of community

Connecting with a community of like-minded people works on lots of levels. It can make you feel like you’re not alone. Plus, it can really help you figure out new ways of approaching those day-to-day challenges beyond managing your medication. They may include:

  • Managing your diabetes when travelling
  • Accommodating unplanned activities in your daily routine
  • Accounting for eating out in your meal and medication planning
  • Helping your family, friends or colleagues understand your condition

(Remember, however, that your care plan must always be developed in consultation with your healthcare professional, especially when it comes to medication.)

There are a number of ways you can draw on the knowledge and experiences of other members of the diabetes community, whether it is contacting Patient Advocacy Groups (PAGs), joining online communities and forums, or following other people living with diabetes on their social media channels.

“I want to share a real view of what living with type 1 diabetes is really like, and to advocate for awareness and access to technology that is often life-changing for those with diabetes”

-Sophie Lane, Whatthebetes

Introducing #DiabetesUnfiltered

One way we’re helping is by launching a new initiative called Diabetes Unfiltered to collate shared experiences of those living with diabetes for the benefit of others. Essentially Diabetes Unfiltered is an online community of people who have diabetes, sharing real and relatable stories about their lives with their followers. Honest, uncensored and unfiltered, these stories highlight the reality of living with diabetes – not only the challenges, but also how to overcome them.

We hope their experiences and information will help inspire people to think about their own lived experiences with the disease, and actively seek change where it’s helpful – even if it’s a small step.

Some of our partners

Melanie Stephenson-Gray
UK

I began athletics after my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes when I was 13, and haven't looked back since. As an international level athlete, I’ve represented my country over 25 times in 100 m and 200 m sprints and relays. I was also featured in a Nike campaign during the London 2012 Olympics - and carried the Olympic torch in front of 20,000+ people.

Sara Mobäck
Sweden

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 13. A few years later, due to my own internal pressure, I stopped eating carbs and exercised daily. This led to a 2016 diagnosis of anorexia.

Now I want to encourage a positive perspective and way of living for people with diabetes. I give talks, and my blog about type 1 diabetes reaches thousands of people globally.

Stephanie Haack
Germany

I’ve been writing my blog since 2015 to show what life looks like with type 1 diabetes.

I live a full, happy life thanks to modern therapy. That doesn’t mean I’m keen to prick myself with needles, or I love the medical stuff in my apartment and handbags. But gradually I’ve started to accept it - as part of the mosaic making up my life.

Hanna Boëthius
Switzerland

I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for 35 years. In 2011 I started nourishing my body better, it was as if my whole life fell into place. Since this wake-up call I’ve gained much of my health back – all thanks to lifestyle choices and eating the right nutrients.

Through @HannaDiabetesExpert, I’ve inspired thousands of diabetics to live more healthily by sharing my experiences.

Sophie Lane
UK

Hi! I’m Sophie. I’m 28 years old, have been living with type 1 Diabetes for 16 years, and am still trying to figure it all out. When diagnosed, the thought of a few injections a day didn’t really phase me – but the reality of type 1 is that the injections are the easy part, and it’s juggling all the bits in between that make it difficult. Having struggled to prioritise type 1 growing up, I’m passionate about sharing the realities of life with diabetes – including the fun bits and the rough bits – and how it really is possible to balance blood sugar control with all the good things in life (food, travel - I’m looking at you) and live fully with type 1.

Kilian Meyer
Spain

I'm 17 years old, live in Barcelona and I’ve been lucky enough to do what I love most: racing cars at a national and international level. Four years ago I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and, although at first it was hard to think that it could affect my sports career, I quickly discovered it should never prevent me from continuing to live my dreams and sports aspirations.

Chloe Dodd
Canada

Hi! My name is Chloe, I'm 26 and I live in Nova Scotia, Canada, after emigrating from England when I was 18. I have been living with type 1 diabetes for four years and am dedicated to raising awareness of what it is like to live with the condition and the challenges faced, which gives me a real sense of accomplishment. Despite diabetes demanding 24-hour attention, making it sometimes challenging to control, I don’t let it stop me doing what I want – it just involves additional choices and planning. Diabetes is a part of me, but it is not the whole picture.

Phyllisa Deroze
USA

Hi everyone I'm Phyllisa from Florida in the United States and I’ve been living with diabetes since 2011. I'm super passionate about supporting and empowering people to live well with diabetes. I began blogging at DiagnosedNOTdefeated.com almost immediately after being diagnosed and shortly after founded Black Diabetic Info, a website dedicated to increasing cultural-competent diabetes information. My motto "Diagnosed Not Defeated" is an inspiration for anyone diagnosed with diabetes!

Marcelo Gonzalez
Chile

Hi, I’m Marcelo, a publicist. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1986 when I was 18 years old.

I began writing a blog in 2005 which became MiDiabetes.cl, the first Spanish-language diabetes portal, and led to the MiDiabetes Foundation. I have been a permanent lecturer of different courses and scientific congresses, as well as leading social campaigns to help people with diabetes.

References
  • International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, ed. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation;2019.
  • Yale University. World population: 2020 overview. March 2020. Available online at: https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/world-population-2020-overview (Last accessed March 2020)