Diabetes Doesn't Define Me, it Empowers Me

Sarah Raschbaum, Loyola University of Maryland '19

CDN students tabling

Diabetes does not define me. I refuse to give that kind of power to a disease that I did not ask for – a disease that has, without my permission, become all that I eat, breathe, and sleep. I refuse to let type one diabetes (T1D) become the definition of who I am.

I will, however, choose to let diabetes empower me. With the understanding that what I accept from this disease is on my terms and my terms only. I will allow T1D to make me stronger; to push me to be a more considerate and loving person; to be a better friend, daughter, and sister; and to make me a little more grateful for every day that I have.  

It’s taken sixteen years for me to get to a point where I no longer am afraid of my disease. I had lived in fear of so much for so long – fear of the number on the screen, of not waking up in the morning, of telling my friends, of disobeying my parents. And I realize now that what I feared most was losing my sense of self. Finding the balance needed to discern the line between being a person with diabetes and being a person afraid of becoming diabetes was a very long process. 

diabetic alert dog

I don’t think that my coming to terms with having type one had a definitive beginning or end.  I am certain, though, that the most meaningful decision I’ve made as a person with diabetes (PWD) was deciding to let people into my life who “get it.”  My support system continues to be, day after day, what keeps me going. My support system is extensive, and it ranges from my family, to my roommates, to people I’ve met on the street, to my diabetes camp family to Loyola’s CDN Chapter – and it doesn’t end there. Grateful would absolutely be an understatement.

Awareness comes in all shapes and sizes and impacts everybody differently. Spreading awareness and knowledge is so very important, but staying personally aware and at peace is equally important. I’ve made my peace with type one diabetes through helping others understand this disease and all that it encompasses: sleepless nights, wonderful friendships, and the highs and lows in between. As bizarre as it may seem, talking about diabetes is one of my happy places; it keeps me grounded and gives me perspective. 

students

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wish this disease upon my worst enemy. However, T1D has positively shaped me in more ways than I ever imagined it would. I feel fortunate to be one of the few million people to have this disease. Even more so, I feel lucky to be a person with diabetes that has a voice and is not afraid to use it. Someone once told me that because of the hand I was dealt, I was a warrior. To all of my fellow T1D’s: I hope you also find strength in this hand that you were dealt, because you are warriors too.  

Editor's note: Lexicon is a CDN Corporate Member and is dedicated to bringing awareness to the relationship between T1D and mental health. Watch CDN's Mental Health and T1D Facebook Live event, which was made possible by funding from Lexicon.