The Importance of Community when Diagnosed as a Young Adult

SYDNEY QUINN (UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN - OSHKOSH, CLASS OF 2020)

When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) a little over a year ago, I felt completely isolated. While I knew a few people in my personal life that had it, I never felt like I had a strong support system, which was both frustrating and lonely. I had my family and friends, but I needed someone who understood what it was like to live with something so taxing. Not only that, but there was so much that I still didn’t know or understand about having diabetes. Because I was diagnosed so late in the game, I didn’t have the opportunity to connect with other people my age that had the same struggles as I did at things like diabetes camps. So, I kind of just floated along with  the routine, not really knowing much about it.

Then, when I was handed the position of president of my CDN Chapter at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh I received an email that I was able to apply for the CDN Annual Retreat 2018. I filled out the application and debated whether to hit send because I was honestly nervous. Once I had been diagnosed more recently, I felt like whatever I had to say wouldn’t be as valid as the people who had been diagnosed for years, but then I bit the bullet and sent it in. Little did I know, that would be the best thing I have ever done.

Currently, I’m sitting on the floor of the retreat house laughing about accents with the people who understand this disease better than anyone, and for the first time since I’ve been diagnosed I feel understood. While all the focus groups and activities of this leadership retreat were incredibly helpful, I think the biggest thing for us all was that we found other people who got it.

students at the lake

One of the biggest things I have pulled from the past week has been that diabetes sucks; that’s just the way it is. But this community is one of the most supportive groups of people I have ever met, and although it’s not the ideal situation, we have each other. I know in my heart that these 25+ people will always be there if I need anything, and that is the most comforting thing in the world to me.

Editor's note: diagnosed as a young adult like Sydney? Check out our guide for newly diagnosed young adults.

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Sydney is a huge fan of Marvel and comic books, as well as musical theater. In her free time she likes to write, play her ukulele, and watch movies. Currently, Sydney attends the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and is a special education major.