Moving on – by Helen Whitehouse


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First of all, I want to apologise for not blogging in ages- GCSEs among other things have bogged me down a bit, but now I have a 12 week holiday where I am free to do whatever I like.

On the recent themes of keeping diabetes from others, I just want to sort of express my views upon the matter. The question is, why do we keep it from others? I want to share my own personal experience.

I was pretty much fine with everything through the first two years of secondary school, but things started to go a bit shaky when I got into my 3rd year, on the diabetes front. I think it was because I realised that for two years I had been acting childish, and it was time for a new, mature Helen.

However, I never really managed this transition and because I was constantly questioning my own behaviour, I sort of became very shy and awkward. It was a step backwards and at the time, I never really realised it. It was one event though, in the middle of this stage which set me thinking about things.

I was out with a group of friends and one of them, unaware of my diabetes, said “ I just don’t get why people with illnesses make a big deal about it. It’s like, get over yourself, we don’t want to see you medicating!” and everyone laughed. I could feel myself stinging bright red, and at lunchtime I stalked off to do my injection, rather than proudly stabbing it in there and then which was my norm.

From then on I began to feel different – I knew I was just as capable as anyone else, so in my head, there was no reason for anyone to know. I thought people would edge away from me, that “weird diabetic”, “the one with the needles”, I even had “the one who was dying” (I don’t know, I really really do not know). I didn’t want to be taken as this sickly child, I wanted to be the strong person I knew I was. Yet it was doing the exact opposite to me.

For a few years I was really very awkward. I didn’t like talking to my friends about who I fancied, because what if they found out and oh my lord its so embarrassing! I would try to blend into the background, but that isn’t me. I have had bright blue hair and not cared, so why did I care so much about things like this?!

I realise now though how silly I was being. I finished my last GCSE and vowed to make a fresh start. So, at my college induction day last Friday I wasn’t struck down with horror when I inspected my timetable and realised I wasn’t with anyone I knew for English or Sociology. Instead I took it as an opportunity, finding my way round on my own and introducing myself to other people.

I made a few friends, because that is exactly what you have to do in the adult world, and you can’t hide any aspect of your being that defines you as much as your hair colour. Because as much as it is an inconvenience to us, we have diabetes. We are diabetics. Yet we should shout it from the rooftops and whip out our injector pens anywhere we go because it makes us who we are. And the world would be a dull place if everyone was the same.

And on a last note, I realise I have blogged like this before – it’s a theme I am passionate about.

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Perfectly reminded me of my own teenage years. I spent most my adolescence incredibly confident, apart from when it came to discussing my diabetes. I found it an embarrassment. Only within the last few years in my mid twenties have I realised diabetes has helped make me who I am today, and although I am desperate for a cure I would never undo the maturity, self assurance and general appreciation of life that diabetes equipped me with. How beautifully refreshing to read of someone realising at a much younger age than I did that diabetes does not shape a person, but definitely adds a great deal to their character. Good luck at college.

I must say I find your blog quite inspiring. My daughter is 4, she has had type 1 for a year and a half now. I don’t want her to spend the rest of her life hiding her diabetes. She has nothing to be embarrassed about and neither do you.