Guest Post: Together, Though Alone by Bob Pedersen
Together, Though Alone
Many people seek out the Diabetes Online Community [DOC], or are delighted when theycome across it, because they have previously felt isolated in the condition. It’s not unusual, I gather, for a Type 1 diagnosed as a child to come to adulthood without knowing another person with diabetes. Parents of children with diabetes may never have the opportunity to share wisdom and strength with others in their situation. And even though Type 2 is more common, and it’s certain that a number of people in my daily life have the condition, I only know of one of them. It’s not something most people will discuss openly, so there’s little opportunity to form support networks among one’s own acquaintances.
Just as the Internet has proved to very good at connecting people with similar interests and viewpoints, it’s been wonderful for connecting people with medical conditions. I’m very grateful to those who blogged when there were few blogs and who created our online forums (such as Diabetes Daily or TuDiabetes).
So what can members of our community offer each other? Some of the 12 Step-type organizations say that members can offer “experience, strength, and hope”, and I think that fits here very well. As a relatively new diabetic (about 2 1/2 years), I have often needed to rely on the experience of those who’ve been at it longer than I have. And even people who’ve lived successfully with the disease for decades can find themselves facing situations that are new to them.
We can also gain strength through reassurance from others, as well as just the sense of how many of us there are. We can reach out for a friendly word, when it’s needed, or just silently read the words of others, imbibing a sense of companionship with friends that may be geographically very far away. (It’s true that requests for a bit of emotional support don’t always get the response we’re hoping for, so it’s important to establish as many sources of support as we can.)
Finally, we can gain hope from reading messages from many, many people who are leading successful lives despite diabetes – not perfect lives, not lives without challenges, but lives that are rich, multifaceted, and worth the struggle.
Yes, diabetes can be an isolating disease. Even if we’re surrounded by loving friends and family, the things we experience with diabetes can leave us feeling very alone. But through the DOC, we can come together.
You can follow his fabulous tweets on Twitter: @rpederse