Guest Post: Share Your Story by Brandy Barnes
My next guest blogger is a woman who I had the honor of volunteering with her non-profit organization in 2008. She is extremely nice and did not hesitate to say yes when I asked her to guest post. How she fit it into her jam-packed schedule I don’t know but I’m so thankful she did.
Brandy Barnes is the Founder and Executive Director of DiabetesSisters. This organization has some really wonderful programs like the Diabetes Buddy Program, Forums and a Free reminder program. Wait did that say free? Yes it did! She will also be hosting the Weekend for Women event in May 2010 with TCOYD.
Thank You Brandy for all that you do in the diabetes community and for being a guest on Sticky Sweet Diabetics.
With Diabetes Awareness Month upon us, I have given a lot of thought to the phrase “National Diabetes Awareness Month” and what it means to those of us living with the disease. During November, we usually hear lots of alarming facts and statistics about diabetes. These facts and statistics are meant to bring awareness to a disease that is not well understood by the general public. Some view the month as a time to clear up myths and misconceptions about diabetes. Others see the month as an opportunity to encourage those with undiagnosed diabetes to get tested. But that’s how the general public is involved in National Diabetes Awareness Month. What role do those of us living with diabetes play in this important month?
There are lots of ways to get involved in this important month, including volunteering with diabetes organizations, donating to diabetes organizations, educating yourself and others about diabetes, and being physically active during the month of November. But, by far, the most impactful thing you can do during National Diabetes Awareness Month is to Share YOUR Diabetes Story with others.
Each one of us has a unique diabetes story and everyone’s story is interesting. We all gained a lot of wisdom through our experiences. Sharing your story with others just might prolong or even save someone’s life. Think about it… The question I am most often asked by those who don’t have diabetes is, “How did you know you had diabetes?” To me, this means that people are interested learning from my experiences. Undoubtedly, part of telling your story usually involves talking about the diabetes symptoms you experienced. Hearing about those symptoms in a story format makes them memorable to those who hear your story. For example, my story always begins with a memory of me chugging down 64 oz. of soda during a time-out at my high school basketball game, consuming lots of chocolate milkshakes at my mother’s request due to my extreme weight loss, and noticing my blurred vision when I couldn’t read the chalk board during my Biology class.
Another part of telling your story also involves talking about how your life changed and how you adapted to your new life with diabetes. This provides your listener with the “true” reality of what living with diabetes looks like and the fact that life goes on after a diabetes diagnosis. I usually talk about how being hospitalized and emotionally retreating inward for about 24 hours to deal with this life-changing diagnosis. I also talk about how I had to get accustomed to eating balanced meals and snacks to coincide with my insulin dose, check my blood sugar every few hours to ensure that my blood sugar level stayed within a certain range, and how I had to always carry some emergency foods in case my blood sugar dropped too low to avoid seizures. Your story is likely similar, yet unique to you!
Most likely, your story also discusses how others reacted to your diagnosis. This will give the listener an opportunity to see what appropriate and inappropriate responses to those with diabetes look like. I usually talk about how my friends responded initially to my diagnosis with supporting words. I also talk about some of the ill-informed responses I have received, such as “Oh, you have diabetes, that means you have to eat Big Macs all the time, right?” and some the stereotypical responses I have received such as, “You don’t look like you have diabetes.” You probably have some similar stories and maybe even some that are humorous.
Not only can this kind of open dialogue about our disease serve to educate those who are uneducated about it, but it can also serve as an opportunity to empower those of us who are living with diabetes. The more you talk about your disease and become comfortable with your story, the more likely it will have an impact on someone else’s life. So, take the opportunity this November to fine-tune YOUR Diabetes Story. Take every opportunity to practice sharing your story with others. It may be uncomfortable at first or it may come naturally. Either way, you will feel a sense of relief afterward. You will also feel pride in the fact that you did your part to open the lines of communication about diabetes and that you told your story with confidence.
If you are a woman with diabetes, I encourage you to share YOUR Diabetes Story with other “Sisters” who are living with diabetes at www.diabetessisters.org. The DiabetesSisters’ Women’s Forum provides ongoing opportunities for you to talk and share ideas with other women who are living with diabetes.
Talk about it because Everyone Knows Someone!