Meet Jessica, living with type 2 diabetes
“I have learned not to be embarrassed or ashamed of living with diabetes or sharing my story.”
At mySugr we love to show the many different faces and stories of people with diabetes in the real world. So we do our own photoshoots and feature real people living with diabetes instead of using stock photos. In this series, we want you to get to know our shooting stars a little bit better.
Meet Jessica, one of our models living with type 2 diabetes. Jessica was not surprised by her diagnosis in 2014. She is Native American and had many relatives with type 2 diabetes, so she knew her risk for developing diabetes was very high.
What were your biggest fears/concerns when you were diagnosed with diabetes?
My biggest fear when I was diagnosed with diabetes was the complications that can come along with the disease. I was also afraid of the stigma surrounding diabetes. It’s a common misconception that diabetes is caused by eating too many treats, however, diabetes can affect even fit people. It took a long time for me to overcome the embarrassment I felt about living with diabetes because of that stigma.
What’s the hardest part/biggest struggle for you in living with diabetes day-to-day?
The biggest struggle for me in living with diabetes day-to-day is always having to think about how things/situations might affect my blood sugar and planning for that. Carrying glucose tabs or a snack in my purse in case of a low, or if I want to indulge in an alcoholic beverage I have to really think about my meal before and keep an eye on my blood sugar levels. Also, it is not just food that affects blood sugar levels but also exercise and stress. I’m a single, working parent and stress is often unavoidable in both my personal and work life. Living with diabetes, I have had to learn how to manage not only blood sugar levels but also stress levels.
What piece of advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed with diabetes?
I would advise someone newly diagnosed with diabetes to not be afraid to ask their doctor questions. Ask for resources like any diabetes classes/groups offered or a referral to a nutritionist. Do research and find others living with diabetes (like social media groups). Make sure you and your doctor are on the same page about how you are going to manage your diabetes. Don’t be afraid to talk to friends and family because you may not know it but you probably know someone living with diabetes.
Is there a phrase/statement about diabetes that drives you crazy?
The statement about diabetes that drives me crazy is, people with diabetes cannot eat any sugar. I hate that assumption. I hear it all the time, especially at work.
When you think of the word “freedom” in terms of diabetes, what does that mean to you? What would make you feel more free?
When I think of the word freedom for me, it means freedom from medications. My goal since my diagnosis has been to manage my diabetes with nutrition and exercise only and go off my medications. It’s not easy and I’m not there yet, but not having to take medications daily would make me feel more free.