Amy Tenderich was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2003. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Diabetes Mine and co-authored the book Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes. You will frequently find her speaking at diabetes, health, and social media events across the country.
As we struggle to offset stress and stay motivated, there’s no underestimating the value of community support—for everyone from the newly diagnosed to the long-term patient who’s feeling burned out by diabetes.
If you’re reading these tips, you’re already tapping into the benefits of the online diabetes community to a certain extent. But there’s a growing amount of “support stuff” available online for diabetes that you may not know about.
Search for local events
It’s getting easier and easier to search online for diabetes events and meet-ups right in your own town or county. Aside from simply entering relevant keywords into Google, there are some search tools created specifically to help you discover diabetes events in your area:
Diabetes1.org events listings. For best results, click on your state on the US map shown, rather than using the zip code search bar.
From the American Diabetes Association, a search tool called “In My Community.” For best results, be sure to enter specific dates and use the category “All” for types of events when searching.
Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD). This is an excellent series of local one-day diabetes learning and expo events. The cost is very low (about $30 for the day) and includes lunch, lectures, one-on-one sessions with experts, and demos of new products. Not to be missed!
Check out blogs and Twitter
Diabetic Connect allows you to interact with other people in the same boat without leaving the comfort of your own home. You can toss out questions, share ideas, and gain support and empathy from someone on the other side of the country or even overseas who’s struggling with the same diabetes-related frustrations.
Blogs offer some of the same advantages, but are more like publications or personal online diaries written by one or more authors. They contain a wide variety of content on lots of topics around living with diabetes. You can “talk” with the authors and other readers on the site by adding comments on each “post” or story that appears. Blogs are fun and popular, plus they're easy to set up and use, even for someone who has no computer skills.
You can find a list of the Top 25 diabetes blogs here.
Twitter is a service that’s sometimes called micro-blogging because it accommodates “mini-posts” of just 140 characters or fewer. You can join for free, set up your own profile page, and then search for other PWDs by typing in the term "diabetes" in the search bar. On Twitter, you’ll find a 24-hour stream of these “mini-posts” from other diabetics all over the country and the world—definitely a great reminder that diabetics are everywhere, and they're interested in reaching out to help one another.
Play a health game
Health-related games on the Internet are turning out to be very successful in combating depression and “motivating people of all ages to move their bodies and manage their chronic health conditions more effectively.”
It’s true; a lot of medical research has actually been done on this topic. The Washington Post reports that health games can help patients feel connected late at night when there’s no one to talk to, and playing can help improve your mood and heart rhythms.
They’re helpful because “depression and other disorders—as well as everyday stress and worry—involve systematic patterns of thought and self-doubt, and…games can distract people and put them in a different mental zone.”
Some say playing very graphics-heavy games help them “fall into a trance of simultaneous concentration and relaxation.” Other games are designed to teach and motivate people—on topics like healthy eating, weight management, glucose monitoring, important medical tests, and avoiding diabetes complications.
Check out DiabetesGame.com. These learning games include trivia quiz modules and “diabetes solitaire.”
There's also SuperBetter. SuperBetter "increases resilience—the ability to stay strong, motivated and optimistic even in the face of difficult obstacles. Playing SuperBetter makes you more capable of getting through any tough situation—and more likely to achieve the goals that matter most to you."
Where do you find your biggest support system?