Why I get involved with the Peer Support hangouts – By Vanessa Haydock
Growing up, I felt very alone in terms of my diabetes. Being Diagnosed at 4 years old was a very scary experience, also due to the fact I knew of no other people around me with the condition. Through primary school, I was the only diabetic, which carried on all the way through until the end of college. During these times, I found that I had no motivation to attempt to fully control my condition, whereby I believe that this was linked to not having other peers to share my experiences with or ask questions etc. Everybody around me was ‘normal’, eating whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, with no care in the world, and to an extent, I seemed to follow.
However, as I started university, I met a few diabetics, whereby I felt a sense of relief. All this time all I wanted was somebody to ask questions and compare methods of control etc. I had so many questions to ask them, built up over the years, locked inside me. Since speaking to other diabetics face to face, this has had a huge effect on how I control my diabetes, whereby my motivation has increased significantly. Having somebody to turn to about the condition is a vital part of good diabetes control in my opinion.
After realising how much of an effect speaking to others had on my control, I got involved with the Diabetes UK Peer Support scheme, offering advice and sharing my experiences with other diabetics via email. Helping others cope with their condition has also significantly helped me. Recently, I have been getting involved with Diabetes UK’s ‘Google Hangout’, which involve online chats via webcam, face to face with numerous diabetics/parents of diabetics. Personally this has provided me with even more motivation to not let type 1 diabetes defeat me. Speaking to people face to face, even if it is over the web, opens many doors for learning new facts about the condition, hearing individual experiences and opinions, from numerous people at the same time.
The hangouts allow individuals to speak to others all over the country with experience of diabetes, both type 1 and 2, whereby every week there is a different topic to focus on. Examples of topics include ‘Insulin Injections’, ‘Insulin Pumps’, ‘Diabetes and illnesses, ‘Diabetes and university’, ‘Diabetes and childhood’ ‘Diabetes and Exercise’… the list is endless. As a lot of you are aware that diabetes is not as simple as some people believe. Through taking part in peer support hangouts, I have become more knowledgeable about the condition than I ever have been, an example including the fact that I found out the size of the needles prescribed to me all my life, were far too big for me!
The great thing about Google hangouts is that when people start to log in every week, friendships can be built, as I see us all at the moment as a little diabetic family! I would fully recommend anybody who has any questions relating to diabetes, or just needs somebody (or a group!) to talk to about the condition, to join one of the hangouts. Like I mentioned, it really has helped me gain the motivation I need to succeed with my control (which as you all know can never be perfect).
Peer support hangouts take place every Tuesday night at 7.00pm. For more details please contact Diabetes UK, or email Lucy.Inkster@diabetes.org.uk for more details.
Hope to see some of you soon.