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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Overwhelmed by the opposite of loneliness.

Even though I was really really nervous and anxious and lonely and scared, a few nights ago I went to a diabetes event BY MYSELF fully expecting to be the shy, quiet, anxious girl who was also the only one who came alone. I didn't expect to know anyone; I didn't expect to learn anything; I wanted to go but I didn't know what to expect and that scared me. Had things worked out differently, I may not have gone, but I pushed myself and I did go.

And what a great decision.

People started talking to me. They genuinely wanted to know my thoughts, how I felt, how things were going. People that I didn't know but had a connection with.

I may have been the youngest person there (by a long shot, which is still one of my problems), but I was not the loneliest person there. I met people, I made friends, I found new and local resources, and I learned a bit about myself.

This event was immensely improved by the fact that when I walked in, I saw my Animas guy. Love him; haven't seen him in a long time (when you stop going to peds clinic...)
This improvement was compounded by the fact that the guest speaker! Was someone who I adore and actually really look up to! And was someone I had kind of expected never to see again! We had an awkward hey-nice-to-meet-you-wait-I-already-know-you kind of thing, but it worked out. Mentors are so important, guys.

I struggled to keep the tears in my eyes quite a few times that night. Had somebody tried talking to me at key points, I would have burst into tears. I was overwhelmed - but it was a good feeling.

To hear pump beeps and vibrations around the room that weren't mind; to watch others look down automatically even though they knew it wasn't them beeping; to hear the speaker say "just let me check - 8.9! Good to go!" and to hear others talk about this experience that we all share was an incredible thing that I forgot mattered. It matters a lot. I wasn't crying because I was stressed or anxious or scared; I was crying because I had refound the community I thought I lost and for the first time in a long time, I wasn't feeling alone.

It also struck me how invisible this thing really is. Had I not been looking for a pump bulge, I would not have seen it. Had I not know these people had Type 1, I literally would not have figured it out. Even when we're not hiding it, it still stays pretty hidden.
That makes me wonder - how many people do I pass in the hall that are thinking the same things? How many people are sitting beside me, feeling lonely because nobody understands?
There's so many of us, but we're hard to pick out of a crowd.

Diabetes is a HUGE part of my life. It needs to be. I've been playing it down a lot the last few years, and I need to stop that. One of the books I read recently said that, on a first date, you should talk as much about diabetes as you would a favourite hobby. I think that's a good ratio.

Diabetes comes second to me - but, still, second. That's at least a place on the podium.

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