Why Life With Diabetes is Not a Tragedy

why life with diabetes is not a tragedyToday I am talking about positivity. And the best life you could ever dream. And a girl I know who had a wonderful childhood, grew up, got married and had 3 babies, started a charity and 3 other businesses, was happy and excited by her life, and lived long and well.

This is a story to stand against the ones about the girl who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 12 years old, and her life was changed forever, for the worst. Whose parents never slept again because they feared she may die in the night. Who was unable to be the same, do the same, live the same, as her peers. Who had to juggle and balance and tightrope walk every day.Whose insides were damaged by her disease. Who lived connected to machines and had to ask one every time she was hungry, is it ok to eat now? Who knew she would die earlier than she should and may lose her limbs, sight, kidneys, her dignity.

This is my story. And it is not one of doom and gloom. Sometimes all the negative stories around the airwaves about life with type 1 diabetes can get exhausting. There is a tendency for people to use the terrible awful parts of life with diabetes, to try and get heard, to make changes. And I get that, totally. But my problem with this is that it sends a message to our young and not so young, people with type 1 diabetes, that their lives are DOOMED. That the only answer they have is a cure, or super dooper technology. That they can never be happy, well, strong. That the world is crying for the heartbreak of their lives with diabetes. It’s a tragedy……

I get it. I know how hard it is. But that does not mean life with diabetes is bad. It does mean we are incredibly skilled at juggling and balancing. It does mean we know how it feels to struggle. It does mean we have more to do than the average person.  It may mean we get compliacations and have a shortened life. It may not.

I believe we are ABOVE average. I believe all of you children, young people and adults out there living with any type of diabetes are extraordinary. I have seen many people with diabetes doing amazing things. All this juggling and worrying and working out – it gives you amazing skills and insight. It allows you to make decisions about what to do with your life based on all the things you have to do to get through every day. I have also spent many years picking up the pieces of people’s lives after being fed the fear factor messages by health care professionals, media and well meaning loved ones, about how terrible their lives are…..

If it were not for my diabetes I would not have known what it is like to be alone, and therefore worked out how to be less alone- by reaching out and growing community. Were it not for diabetes I would not have known my body and its workings like the back of my hand. Were it not for diabetes I would not have been able to achieve great things and understand what it is like to struggle. Were it not for diabetes I would not be me.

And I am ME. I am not my diabetes. I am a mother, a friend, a wife, a leader, an award winning blogger and consultant, an entrepreneur, a business woman, a painter, a writer, a singer, a gardener, a lover of animals. I am a diabetic, an asthmatic, a person living with multiple gut conditions, a pioneer, a ground breaker and a nerd. I am sometimes scared, alone, worried, sad, annoyed, frustrated and angry. I am often happy, crazy, silly, bright, enthused, excited, inspired and passionate. I am a human being living with what I have been dealt.

Sure I would rather not have it. Of course I want to make changes and see things get easier and better for us all. But I also want to see a more positive and balanced message being shared for our young people – that life with diabetes can be good, fabulous even. That in 2015 we have some of the best technology ever, but that you have choices about how to manage your diabetes. That you do not have to choose any particular one. That at the end of the day it is cool if you choose a simple blood glucose monitor and multiple injections. There is no right or wrong. You can achieve greatness, or ordinariness, you can live a quiet life, or a noisy one. You can be happy. You have a life.

There is no magic bullet and no one thing that is going to take diabetes away. At the moment there is no cure and no perfect way to manage diabetes. Getting new technology or new medication, is not going to stop the balancing and the juggling and the hard parts of diabetes out of your life. Hanging everything on that moment when they tell us there is a cure, or better technology to make life easier is a bit like spending your life waiting in the queue for coffee. You wait and wait and jump lines, only to find that line is longer. If you eventually get to the coffee you are over it by then anyway and now you have missed most of your day waiting in the line and the coffee is bittersweet as you have lost all that time where you could have been enjoying your life, instead of waiting in a line for something that you could not control.

No life with diabetes isn’t easy, but it is certainly not a tragedy. Don’t wait in line and put your life on hold. Go make your own coffee. It will taste much sweeter.

Do you sometimes feel that there are too many negative messages out there about diabetes?





  1. heltweet on October 29, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Wonderful. Thank you Helen. Great perspective and wisdom. I hope that  your message reaches young people, especially those teenagers who need to hear it.

    • Helen-Edwards on November 6, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      thank you Helen and young people need to hear this!

  2. justconsideritblog on November 5, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Great post Helen. When I was diagnosed 28 years ago, I had terrible fears put in my 10 year old head, and of course the result was denial, and lots of it. Why is that health professionals can’t wait to scare you to death? If it were a diagnosis of cancer, they encourage you to fight it, I’m not sure they would say ‘If you don’t look after yourself you’re going to die’ which is what I’ve had in the past and it’s ridiculous and simply not on, not by a long shot. I’ve been able to accomplish some amazing things in my life, not because of the diabetes but in spite of it.

    I think diabetics of our seniority should be consulted about the kind of things we found that worked with us, but there seems to be a focus with research on what doesn’t work, and it needs to be rectified. We are the sum of our experiences, and we want to help, to provide the kind of guidance that we wish we’d been given at our diagnosis. It doesn’t have to be such a traumatic event, I believe with careful monitoring a newly diagnosed diabetic could be encouraged to live a healthy life, there’s absolutely no need to frighten them, because we know it isn’t effective, in fact it makes people go the other way straight into denial, and that gets you absolutely nowhere.

    I hope while you were congratulating all the diabetics reading this (thanks by the way because I know I deserve it), you congratulated yourself for being such an amazing, talented human being who has faced adversity and won in the sense that you took charge of your life. Your achievements are something to be proud of.


    • Helen-Edwards on November 6, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      Emily thank you so much for visiting, reading and then taking time to share your wise words. I totally agree and think while we need to know the risks and how to avoid them we need encouragement to live life to the fullest, especially young children. Well meaning messages that simply say you are going to die unless A) B) or C) happens (usually a cure or some new technology). Thanks so much for joining the conversation

  3. Recycled_Interiors on November 19, 2015 at 7:22 am

    justconsideritblog such wise words Emily. Totally agree with you, and thank you for your love and support

  4. Recycled_Interiors on November 19, 2015 at 7:22 am

    heltweet thank you Helen, me too we must share positive stories