T1 Diabetes does not look like....

     A DONUT OR DR PEPPER     

It is a disease. One that requires millions of people to see real doctors multiple times a year, routine blood tests, blood sugar yoyos and daily number games. So if you're wanting to call your Krispy Kreme "diabetes", I DONUT WANT TO KNOW. 

     A TABLOID HEADLLINE     

You will probably be familiar with the delightfully sensationalist "Diabetes will Bankrupt the NHS" headlines, along with the "crash diet that can cure diabetes" and the stock image of an obese person - probably eating a burger for good measure. Journos love a good society shame, but sensationalism is not the truth. Diabetes does not look like the Daily Mail!

Newspapers also rarely differentiate between T1 or T2 diabetes in their headlines. T1 diabetes is not caused by diet; it is an autoimmune condition, usually triggered in childhood, that is no fault of the individual. Moreover, not all cases of type 2 are linked to lifestyle; people are diagnosed with the condition at a healthy weight! Just as it is completely wrong to believe that certain cancers are always linked to smoking, many type 2s did leave a healthy lifestyle prior to diagnosis. Diabetes does not look like one individual. 

     A TWITTER HASHTAG      


When it comes to the award for #MostTrivialised, Diabetes is up there with OCD. I've talked about the latter before, but for every #SoOCD sock drawer there is also a #diabetes donut to be found. In the world of social media, both illnesses are continually misrepresented and stereotyped. As someone who has both diabetes and OCD, it is a continual source of frustration and something we need to challenge. Diabetes does not look like your dessert.

     A FOOTNOTE     


With the rising cost of T2 diabetes, I can understand why the media has latched onto the story. Nonetheless, it does mean that T1 diabetes is often restricted to a brief paragraph - it is rarely the focus of diabetes media coverage and is consequently grouped under the diabetes = donuts" stigma. I was really glad to see Teresa May called for greater diabetes awareness today; I hope this is a sign that our new PM can move T1D advocacy to the front page. Type One diabetes does not look like Type Two diabetes.

     DIABULIMIA     


Diabetes UK estimates that 1 in 3 T1Ds will struggle with some form of an eating disorder; however, the little coverage it has received focuses on diabulmia; this is where a diabetic patient deliberately restricts insulin and is a potentially life-threatening condition. It does need far more recognition, yet I am also passionate about raising awareness that not all ED-DMT1 cases involve insulin restriction

Conversely, one of the initial catalysts for my eating disorder was an extreme fear of high blood sugars. To some degree, the absence of the  hyperglaecemia 'red card' helped me conceal my own struggles for so long, so it concerns me how many other people may be suffering in silence. 

Thankfully, I now have complete transparency with my current diabetes team, who are desperate to increase my chronically low HBA1C and convinced me to reenter inpatient treatment last Thursday.  The past week has been terrifying, as the refeeding process causes short-term spikes in diabetes and I am eating so many of the 'forbidden' foods in the Higher blood sugars are a short-term necessity for  recovery, but the process is prettifying. 

Charities such as DWED are invaluable for covering all cases of ED-DMT1, including anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia and binge-eating disorder. Nevertheless, we need more voices to be heard. Only last month, I received an email from someone with diabetes and an ED; like me, she has never omitted insulin, yet she thought she was entirely alone  until she read my blog. Her email reaffirmed exactly why I chose to speak up; if my story can help just one other person, it overrides any fear of judgement. Your words could reach someone too. 

     A NUMBER ON A SCALE      


Diabetics can be overweight, underweight or a healthy weight. In the media thesaurus, diabetes = obesity, gluttony, unhealthy... donut. *cue fast food emojis*. You get the picture; The image  splashed across social and professional media alike. 

 So you may want to brace yourself for this home truth... diabetes does not look like a body type.

     A NUMBER ON A BLOOD SUGAR METRE     


It is a snapshot; a moment on time. Diabetes is not linear and blood sugars can be affected by the slightest thing. You are not defined by any reading, high or low. I struggle so much with attaching my self-worth to those numbers.
For me, T1D is tainted by numbers and the pursuit of 'perfect' control. But I am fighting to be free of that. Diabetes does not look like a number

     AVOIDING CARBOYHDRATES     


No seven year old should have to think she can never eat pizza again. No ten year old should be turning over the back of the desserts in the chilled section of a supermarket, to check if the carb count is "acceptable". No twenty two year old should do that, either. 

We need carbohydrates to live. Simple. It is our body's most preferred source of energy, and is integral to survival. Yet for as long as I can remember, carbohydrates for me have been viewed in terms of "good" and "bad", similar to the traffic light system on food packaging. Interestingly enough, carbohydrates never feature there… but they do in the mind of the diabetic.  

From the age of seven, a plate of food is an equation. Only an hour ago I cried over apple sponge and custard. It may as well have been laced with poison, so fearful was my head of the 'repercussions'. I vividly recall going to the school dining hall in Year Two - seven years old - and having exactly 10 chips counted out on my plate. Never one less, but never one more. 

Carbs were by no means 'banned'. As a diabetic, I have eaten cake, pizza, pasta, the works. For many years, I was far less rigid in my views then I am now; however, if a food has a carb count it has to be counted. The key to mental freedom? Carbs may always have to be counted, but they don't need to count for anything. Diabetes does not need to look like carb restriction. 


     99% OF WHAT YOU READ     

So read it with a pinch of salt, pepper, or sweet 'n low if you're feeling bitter... because sugar is the root of ALL EVIL guys! In case you missed the Daily Mail's memo. 

Diabetes looks like diabetes. No stigma or judgement. No one-size-fits-all. What does diabetes look like for you? 


The Acorn and the Ivy

Of all my New England photos, this one may be my favourite; who can resist that bokeh backdrop? Even using the word 'bokeh' makes me feel like a very savvy-snapper... we'll just brush over those #behindthefilter shots, where the red flowers looked more like the red dot on Jupiter - or those really creepy eye photos at a retinal screening. 

I do love to a good detour, don't I? Perhaps I am trying to delay the inevitable - the grande finale of my New England blog series. Yes, nearly 3 months after my East Coast adventure, this is the end. *hold your breath and count to 10* As cliche as this sounds, I really have saved the best 'till last. 

Ft. bookshop bakeries, Elle Woods' alma mater and the most-photographed street in the States, I may also have retraced the steps of a certain Ms Rowling... 

    JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS PEANUT BUTTER       
Trident is the hidden gem of Boston; it was one of my dad's "pre-holiday" discoveries, when he set himself the task of finding "the Sophiest coffee shop of all". With books, berries, PB and all things puppy-love, it's safe to say Trident exceeded all expectations was an OWL Outstanding! 

We had breakfast here on both days in Boston, and it's safe to say it was the best of our trip.  My food anxieties had slowly built over the holiday, yet the PB and berry combo felt familiar and comforting; life is always peanut better, while there were enough strawberries to see out 2016! Not that I was complaining... 
You may have seen my "cup of happy" in earlier blog photos; it was a Trident buy and possibly my favourite souvenir of the trip! I did spend a good 15 minutes deciding which mug to buy, as the dog below was very tempting. 
I very nearly got one of the beautiful hardbacks above, but instead picked a copy of Emily Dickinson poetry; at this point she was the subject of dissertation, but I';ve since done a complete U-Turn... I should be a politician! 



    WHAT, LIKES ITS HARVARD?     

I couldn't resist a little nod to Ms Elle Woods, who hails from Harvard Law. Compared to Yale, it didn't quite have the same Hogwarts feeling. That being said, Cambridge (yes, Harvard is based in Cambridge Massachusetts) is a world away from New Haven. It was its own little haven of cute coffee shops, red brick and all the trees. Is it obvious I treeally love them?  

Speaking of Hogwarts, Harvard had something Yale can't claim: JK Rowling's footprints. Yes, below I am standing on the spot where my heroine stood, when she made her commencement speech to graduates. I have a copy of her speech, "very good lives", which is a book you need in your life! 

"We don't need magic to change the world, we have all the magic inside ourselves. We have the power to imagine better." My Queen. 



     SMALL ACORNS AND MIGHTY ELMS      
Mirror mirror on the wall, which street is the most instagrammable of all? Beacon Hill, without a doubt. I mean just look at it: can I move here please? For some random reason it reminded me of the house in Two of a Kind, with 19th century redbrick and roadside trees. Now there's a throwback to a forgotten age, when TV still had integrity...

...a bit like the dreamy cobblestones, gas lamps and treescapes of Beacon Hill! Concrete monstrosities can move over, because this colonial time capsule was right up my *acorn* street. Literally, for nestled behind the hill is the magical and mighty Acorn: 'the most photographed street in the US', according to a reliable source Wikipedia.  Let's get that macro setting on, 
It's official, we need a national renaming of Streets in the UK; anything with a joyful or woodland theme will be accepted.

    TWINKLE AND PERIWINKLE LITLE STAR          

Oh Boston. My beautiful Boston. I thought our daytime wanders were serene as can be, then I saw you at sunset... oh Boston, you've put me on the mother of all nostalgia trips right now! It would be the perfect City to own a dog, with the Public Garden on your doorstep. To be honest though, you don't need a dog as reason to re-root! Imagine walking through this each day? Central Park eat your heart out...
Metallic pleat midi skirt, £68, Topshop     Ruffle cami top, £9.99, Mango     Large push-lock, £100, Cambridge Satchel Company     Patent ballet heels, £25, Debenhams
It took a good three months of WonderListing/trying it four separate times, before this Topshop midi skirt found my wardrobe. I was worried it was too flouncy and made me look even more like a hobbit, but the Petites section saved the day! Plus, it was simply made to match my periwinkle satchel - the bag of my dreams, in case you missed this from my earlier posts... 

So that concludes my New England adventure. I've quite liked revisiting it later on to be honest #perksofprocrastination - makes me all the more determined to go back! Yet I've made a promise to myself that, when I return, I will be properly healthy; there will be no room for anxiety and anorexia in my suitcase. I never want my mental health to overshadow things, but I think it's important to acknowledge that it did impact my trip. 

Only then can I also reflect on what I did achieve. Plans changing, eating out 2/3 times a day, bare legs, plane turbulence... I survived. That's the thing with "exposure therapy", you live to tell the tale and you learn from it. Moreover, some things can't ever be tarnished, whether it be FairyYale, Star Ducks, Newport sails or the the beauty of a Boston skyline.... 



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