Our great focus this January is to kick start your 2020 with inspirational advice on dealing with type 1 diabetes.
Therefore we present to you…. Hanna!
Hanna from hannaboethius.com has been living with Type 1 for over 30 years, and is a certified nutrition coach, helping people to feel confident with diabetes.
What we at Hedia especially get quite a kick out of is her raw honesty and her refreshing ways of looking at things!
So check out our interview with Hanna, and get an insight into her 3 best advice on being comfortable with diabetes – what she would write in a letter to her diabetes – and how she got over the “why me” mentality she once experienced in the beginning of her diabetes journey.
We love that you’re shedding some light on the importance of feeling confident with diabetes. Would you share with us your 3 best tips on how to become more comfortable and confident with diabetes?
First of all, thank you so much for the kind compliment! My journey with T1D has been long and partially quite rough, but I’ve come out better on the other end. Here are my top 3 tips:
1. Get to know yourself, your body and how you react to situations, foods and medication. Although there are great general guidelines, only you can find out what works for you.
2. Realize that most people are way too self-involved to ever care about your pump/cgm/diabetes gear. And if they ask, it’s an excellent opportunity to spread a sprinkle of awareness!
3. Diabetes is a part of you, but it’s not all you are. You are so much more than “just” diabetes – don’t let it define you as a person.
You’re mentioning on your blog that you once felt ashamed of “the crappy card life has dealt you”. Can you tell us more about this feeling and how you dealt with it/ are dealing with it?
For a long time, I was very much in a “why me” mentality when it came to diabetes.
I felt ashamed and unfairly treated by, well, whatever it was that “gave” me Type 1 Diabetes. I kept looking for a scapegoat, something outside of myself to blame for my illness.
Part of my healing process has been facing the fact that there is no scapegoat, no one to blame. All I have is what I have and that’s what I can work further with.
And while “why me” is a worthwhile question sometimes, it’s not a great place to spend time, mentally. It makes diabetes even heavier to carry, because at that point you’re not just seeing diabetes as a part of you – it becomes you, it takes you over.
This happens way too easily when you feel you don’t have any control over your blood sugars, you can’t catch a break and it seems like your endo hates you. For me, it all changed once I started figuring out what really works for me in terms of diabetes management and started gaining some self confidence in that area of my life.
Then I followed the proverbial breadcrumbs to the next mini-win, and then the next, the next… It’s certainly not a linear process, but definitely worth it!
A lot of people feel that having diabetes is limiting their lives. What is your take on that?
Diabetes is exactly what you let it be. It can be an all-consuming, constant issue in your life that you keep struggling with every day of your life. Or that experience can be minimised to a slight annoyance every once in a while (even if it always stays at the back of your mind 24/7).
Of course being responsible and taking excellent care of yourself comes first, but beyond that there are virtually no limits.
Do you want to travel the world? Run your own business? Play music professionally? Be part of a cool group of people? Love? Be healthy? Enjoy life? It’s ALL possible with, and despite, diabetes! Dare to dream and work your way there.
Here’s a weird one. We hope you’ll bear with us.
If you had to write a letter to your diabetes. What would you write?
“Dear Diabetes, thank you for teaching me so much about life. Thank you for showing me what health is and for giving me the tools to take excellent care of myself. Thank you for making me very aware of what’s going on in my body, for helping me to nourish my body and move it regularly. I know we’re not always best friends, but I’m happy for the working relationship we have developed over the years. Also, thank you for letting me follow my dreams. To many more successful years together!”
And the weirdness continues. If you had to write a letter to yourself about your diabetes, what would you write?
Lucky for you, I like weird! 😉
“Dear Hanna, you are not your diabetes. I know you’ve struggled with it for many years, but I’m happy to notice that it’s now a part of you and not the other way around. You are so awesome for finding out what works for you, even if that meant turning your back on some of the conventional advice. I’m proud of you for having spent the time, the effort, the blood, sweat and tears to figure out your own diabetes way. And I’m so excited that you’re now letting others know that they can find the same for themselves, too. You rock!”
If you could give advice to 2-year-old you, the day you got diagnosed with diabetes, what would that be?
Don’t believe everything you’re told. There are ways to manage this that sound weird at first, but are totally worth doing. Find your own way!
It has come to our attention that there are a lot of misconceptions about type 1 diabetes out there. At Hedia we want to focus more on this, and shed more light on the disease. We were therefore wondering… Do you have anything, you’d like more people to know about type 1?
Brilliant, I love that you want to focus on this! You are right, there are an amazing amount of misconceptions out there about T1D, I sometimes still get shocked after (soon) 35 years with this disease!
Type 1 Diabetes is a seemingly harmless disease, you often can’t tell a person with diabetes from the outside (unless they’re sporting their diabetes gear for everyone to see!).
It can sadly have some pretty dire consequences, however. We need external insulin to survive, but dosing it is like walking on a tightrope – too much can kill you, but so can too little. We feel our best when our blood sugars are in range, but this can be a real challenge to attain.
Everything can influence blood sugars, and by that I mean e v e r y t h i n g. It goes far beyond “food, insulin & exercise” like most of us were taught at diagnosis. Mental state, stress, hormones (hello period!), growth, being in love, running for the bus, coffee, exercise, no exercise, too much/little fun, sleep, allergies, alcohol, sunburn, altitude… You get the point. (And if not, check out Adam Brown’s excellent infographic here!)
Okay. Let’s wrap this up. Any last advice you’d like to give our readers?
There’s always, always, always something you can do to improve your situation! What’s your baby step for today?
Thank you so much for sharing, Hanna!
Want to share your personal stories with diabetes? Just write a comment below!