Humans with Type 1 – showing what life with Type 1 diabetes is really like – by Sarah

Humans with Type 1 is a Facebook page created by 22-year-old Sarah, who has lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was 10 years old. Based on the popular Humans of New York project, Sarah wants to give snapshots of what daily life with Type 1 diabetes is really like, and is calling on people living with the condition to share their experiences.

Since being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I’ve generally found that people are really supportive. But like most people living with diabetes, I have come across stereotypes and misunderstandings – from the girl who called me a junkie after she saw me inject my insulin at school, to the people who think having diabetes stops me being able to do certain things. People just don’t know enough about what the condition is, which means it can be isolating to live with.

When I do talk about my daily regime – from my insulin to me blood sugar checks and carb counting – I often get told “I had no idea that you did all of that, I could never do all that if I was you”. It’s frustrating because I have no choice. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me but I do wish people were more aware of what living with diabetes involves.

Joining the Young Leaders Programme

In 2017 I signed up to be part of Diabetes UK Scotland’s Young Leaders Programme. This is a project for 16-25 years olds living with diabetes, and aims to give people like me the skills we need to find solutions for the issues facing other young people with diabetes. Through this I’ve met and bonded with a group of young people from across Scotland.

For my project, I decided to set up a Facebook page called Humans with Type 1. I wanted to bring people living with Type 1 diabetes together to share experiences and support one another. And I wanted to show what living with diabetes is like to people who don’t live with the condition.

Inspired by Humans of New York

The page is based on the popular Humans of New York project, which shares photos and stories from people living in New York (and sometimes further afield). I came across the page on Facebook a few years ago and found it fascinating. People share such rich, funny and inspiring stories. It does a great job of bringing people together with different backgrounds and life experiences. It seemed like the perfect inspiration for how I could bring people with Type 1 diabetes together.

Gathering stories

To get my page up and running I put a call out on social media for people living with Type 1 diabetes to submit a photo and a personal story. I used a series of questions to prompt them to open up about life with Type 1, including:

  • What have you experienced socially/ emotionally as a person living with Type 1 diabetes that you wish more people understood better?
  • Explain a comment you’ve received about your Type 1. How do you feel about it?
  • Can you tell me a funny/happy/sad/ frustrating story about living with Type 1 diabetes?
  • What are you proud of achieving despite Type 1 creating extra challenges?

One of the things that makes Humans with Type 1 work is that there’s no judgement. People can share their experiences anonymously if they want. Instead of submitting a photo of themselves, some people send in one that represents their story, such as a photo of their insulin pump or of something else that makes them think of their diabetes.

It’s also very simple. It’s about talking about your life with diabetes in the same way you might talk to a friend, giving little snapshots of what daily life is like. So I think it helps people to start talking about the condition and the impact it has on them in a way that isn’t formal or complicated.

Telling important stories

I’ve received lots of interesting stories as part of Humans with Type 1, but one that really stood out for me was a young woman sharing her experience of coming to terms with Type 1 diabetes.

It was important to tell this story because although her journey was long and complicated, in the end she was able to look back on everything having come to terms with her Type 1 diabetes. She now wants to travel and see more places around the world. I think positive stories are really important – especially for people who are newly diagnosed.

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