By: Meagan Esler
If I were asked to talk about diabetes to a group of newly diagnosed people, I think I’d start by telling them that there is actually some good that comes from a life with diabetes. While they were deciding whether I had lost my mind, I’d explain that I’m not crazy, but that there really is a saving grace when it comes to having diabetes. It’s called the diabetes online community, or DOC.
If I hadn’t been diagnosed with diabetes, I’d never have met all the wonderful people with whom I’ve connected solely because of my diabetes. I think about that line at the end of the movie classic Stand by Me, where Richard Dreyfuss writes, “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Does anyone?” This line resonates deeply with me because I realize that yes, we do. I can honestly say that I never had any friends like the ones I’ve met in the DOC.
The characters in Stand By Me were at a time in their lives when they were vulnerable and needed each other for strength. When I find myself vulnerable with diabetes, I look to my friends in the DOC for strength. We have a very personal bond, one that makes many of these friends feel like family to me. We share our thoughts, fears, and triumphs over diabetes on a near daily basis and understand each other better than anyone else.
While my family and friends have been greatly supportive of my struggles with diabetes, they just can’t relate to those struggles as well as someone living with it. Having friends who understand what a scary low blood sugar feels like is comforting. They know the worry that accompanies stubborn high blood sugars. They know about the mood swings that you just can’t seem to control until your blood sugars fall back into the proper range. These friends help me feel normal.
The challenges of a life with diabetes can really wear on you, and without my friends in the DOC, it would be a million times more difficult to face them. It’s so easy to feel all alone when dealing with diabetes. I know this because I felt alone with my diabetes for over 15 years. It was only in the last couple of years that I began participating in diabetes online forums.
I highly recommend that people living with diabetes go online to connect with their “D” brothers and sisters. It’s so good for your spirit and your attitude toward your health. There are many websites that allow you to meet other people living with diabetes. It’s easy to jump in and start talking to others in these forums. You can ask questions, support and cheer them on, and gain emotional support.
There is a saying that one twig is weak and easy to break, but twigs bundled together are strong. With diabetes it’s important to stand together, because together we are so much stronger.