Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Got diabetes? Welcome to the family

Our latest guest blog is from Joe Griffiths, on how finding the diabetes online community changed his life - and work!

I went 10 years before I started to look for outside help with my diabetes. Whilst I would keep my doctors and specialist nurses in the loop with how things were going sugar-wise, I kept the emotional side of things close to my chest. This was a mistake. Without realising, I was living with my diabetes like it was an embarrassing little brother. The kind you don’t want to bring to the party but feel like you have to because someone needs to look after him. He’ll pull on your arm when he needs attention or make a huff if you haven’t introduced him yet. He’s basically a needy little douche bag.

However, one day I randomly decided to take it upon myself to do some googling about online help for diabetes. What Google spat back at me was way more than I had anticipated. It wasn’t just the regular government supported sites taking up the first 10 spaces, instead there were links to blogs and online magazines. Unbeknown to me, there’s a whole community out there.

I immediately took to Twitter and searched for diabetes. Once again I found myself doing my best impression of a deer in headlights. I literally couldn’t believe my eyes! People were actually talking loud and proud about their diabetes, even mentioning it in their Twitter profiles. Once I had gotten over the initial shock, I began my own transformation…

In the space of a few weeks, I had more than doubled my Twitter follows and followers; connecting with my fellow pancreatically challenged brethren. I was instantly welcomed by several members of DOC (diabetic online community), introduced to different hashtags and tweet chats to help connect with others. Feeling like a member of an elite group; I even added ‘type 1 diabetic’ into my own Twitter profile!

After feeing inspired, I wanted to get it all off my chest. I put forward the idea of writing an article on diabetes, to my boss. As the lone diabetic at our company, Voucher Codes Pro, I’ve been at the butt of every sugar-based joke. It was time to clear a few things up about my condition and roll out some banter of my own...

The result?
One of the best pieces of content I had ever written. By injecting my own sense of humour, experiences and thoughts on diabetes, I had created a mammoth blog-type post on the dreaded D. I wanted to highlight how brilliant the DOC is and help educate those who may be newly diagnosed or completely clueless. By the time I had finished, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was interacting with people who understood what I’d been going through the last 10 years, making them laugh while doing so.

The online community is fantastic. If you can take anything away from this, just give it a go and embrace your diabetes rather than seeing it as a curse (or an annoying younger sibling who you’re forced to take everywhere). I personally feel like a better person since having to take more responsibility for my well-being and I plan on continuing to improve myself well into the future.

We’re all in this together.

See Joe's website here

Tweet Joe @VCP_Joe