How to Feel Confident With Type 1 Diabetes 

Living with type 1 diabetes (t1d) can take a toll on one’s self-confidence and comfort in their body. Along with the physical inconveniences like having low blood sugar or administering medication on a daily basis, there is an invisible social shame that can be felt from uneducated people when the words “I have diabetes” come out of someone’s mouth. Unfortunately, there will always be uninformed people who have no idea what diabetes is or why people get it.

Both forms of diabetes (type 1 and type 2) come with different kinds of preconceived, ignorant assumptions regarding the disease which can lead those who have it to feeling shameful, sad, and with low self-esteem. Having confidence with type 1 diabetes can take a lot of time and personal effort to achieve, but it is necessary for having a positive association with the disease and not letting it get in the way of other goals in life!

Thankfully, it is completely possible to live confidently. I personally have had type 1 diabetes for almost 10 years and I am more confident in my type 1 diabetes than I ever have been. I also know a lot of other diabetics living extremely beautiful, vibrant lives, who don’t let this disease hold them back in any way. Read on to learn about some of the best things you can do to boost your confidence with type 1 diabetes.

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Give Yourself Time

Acceptance is key. If you are newly diagnosed or haven’t ever emotionally dealt with the diagnosis, now is the time to do so. Give yourself time to grieve, be angry, and question things. Diabetes is an extremely life-altering diagnosis. It’s normal and okay to feel like you’ve lost all control. The reality is there will always be hard days, even once the initial grief has gone. Just like losing a loved one, you’ve lost a sense of your old self and the mourning with come and go throughout your life.

Once you’ve taken the time to fully accept your diagnosis, you can move on to the confidence aspect. Know that living with type 1 diabetes makes you superhuman. You go on with your daily life — work, exercise, meals and also deal with this complex disease. That is amazing. It makes you strong, extremely capable, empathetic towards others, and shows how hardworking you are. Remind yourself of these things on a daily basis. You can do so by posting sticky notes around the house, reminders in your phone, or even learn mantras. Confidence comes from deep within and the first step in being outwardly confident in public should be to feel great in your own skin when you are alone.

Have a Script

If you are going to be showing your devices in public like your pump, CGM, or if you are going to administer it publicly, be prepared to get asked about them. This shouldn’t deter you from wearing them in public because it can be liberating to do so, but it is good to know that there is a possibility it will happen. This does NOT mean you have to educate people on type 1 diabetes. You can decide when and who to discuss that with.

What might help is to have a couple of lines prepared so you aren’t caught off guard when it inevitably does happen. Some things I like to respond with when someone asks what is on my arm (my Cgm) are: “oh this is a continuous glucose monitor, I live with type 1 diabetes and it monitors my glucose levels so I don’t go too low or high!” This is usually followed up with fascination so I know if I respond that way, I am ready to have a conversation about it. If I am feeling less inclined to talk about it I might say: “this is a personal medical device.” You don’t owe an explanation to anyone. Living with this disease is exhausting. If you want to be an advocate that is amazing, but don’t feel obligated.

Take Ownership of Your Health

Investing time and energy into understanding how to best take care of your health will do a lot for your confidence. Knowing that you truly care about your body and want the best for yourself shows that you value yourself and recognize your worth. Do your best with the resources available to you to take your health into your own hands. Each new day living with type 1 diabetes will have new challenges and the reality is, your doctor isn’t always on 24/7 call for minor adjustments. As a result, it’s important to understand how your body works. This will allow you to take better care of yourself and allow you to participate in life to its fullest. Remember, diabetes is a manageable disease.

It can take a long time to be fully confident with type 1 diabetes and that’s okay. It’s not a race and it’s important to take things at a pace you feel is manageable. Always check in with yourself, ask yourself questions like “Am I burnt out from working too hard?” “Am I projecting my sadness into anger at people?” “Am I communicating clearly?” “Am taking care of myself?” Remind yourself that you’re on the right path and trust the process of emotional healing. Letting go of negative self-associations will allow you to live freely, happily and confidently.

Abigail David

Abigail David

Abby is a 25-year-old Vancouver native currently living in Toronto, Canada. Over the past 9 years of living with type 1 diabetes, she has learned a lot about how to harmoniously coexist with the disease and shares her knowledge on her own blog and at local meet-ups. She knows that her blood sugar will never be perfect all the time, but knowing that she has the ability to keep it within her comfortable range, and still live a fulfilling, non-restrictive life, is empowering to Abby. When not writing about life with type 1 diabetes, Abby is a full-time musician and music teacher.