Jeanette Terry, T1D, addresses the day-to-day struggles of living with diabetes to help improve overall adherence and management.

We all need to keep doing our part to be good advocates for diabetes awareness. But sometimes simply managing my own diabetes isn’t easy for me, let alone being an advocate. Sometimes I feel that diabetes is terrible and wreaks havoc on every aspect of our lives if we let it. On the hard days I just feel like crawling under a rock and hiding in hopes that my diabetes won’t find me. How can I be a good advocate then?

The good news is that there is a flipside to every situation. Managing diabetes successfully, even if you’re not perfect at it, can be empowering. It can help you find new energy and new interest in teaching others about diabetes, and it can give you a great sense of satisfaction if you let it. Letting it is the hard part for me.

Tell the whole story

Being an advocate is all about being real and showing others what life is really like with diabetes, both good and bad. I used to feel that I should only share my victories over diabetes. But those times are far outnumbered by the stressful, frustrating, and sometimes painful learning experiences that come with having diabetes. Now I understand that I should share those hard times too, so that the people I care about learn that this disease is hard to live with sometimes and can affect everything we do. On those days when you just want to kick diabetes in the face, it is even more important to get out there and show the world that this disease needs to be stopped.

That is not to say that the small victories in daily diabetes care aren’t a big deal, because they are. Any time I see a good result from my diabetes management efforts, I feel like doing a victory dance. And that is what I should do—shout it from the rooftops so that everyone I know can understand how important good control is to me.

Turn feelings into actions

Diabetes awareness is about finding solutions for everyone living in the trenches dealing with this disease. How can we make progress if the world doesn’t even know what we are going through? So use the anger and frustration along with the victories to fuel the fire that makes you a stronger advocate. Passion is what makes things happen. Even if you don’t feel like you can make a difference, you can—and you’ve already begun, just by trying to do what is best for your health. Don’t underestimate the power of simply being a good example.

Those around you can see how you feel about diabetes. If you act like it is no big deal, they will think the same. If you are trying everything you can to stay on top of your diabetes control, they will see that too. Don’t be afraid to let them see you as you really are. Even if you get frustrated or discouraged sometimes like I do, chances are when you look deep down inside yourself you’ll discover that you are a fighter. Anyone strong enough to live with diabetes is a champion. To take your diabetes advocacy to the next level, you just need to open your mouth and tell those around you, whether it is family and friends, coworkers, neighbors, or people on social media. People need to know. So tell them how you feel. It really is that simple.

How do you share your diabetes experiences with others? How do they respond? Share your experiences by commenting below.