Engaging with the young adults with type 2 diabetes community has always been high on my agenda. Through my own experiences, I know what it’s like to feel like the oddball or an alien. It quickly becomes an isolating and dark place to be in without the right support. And having adequate support, accompanied with the right knowledge and skills are interlaced with adequate diabetes management.
But how do we go about engaging young adults with type 2 diabetes?
When I was diagnosed, I gingerly reached out to support groups online. I didn’t know what I was looking for in a support group. I just wanted to hear people’s experience of living with diabetes. Particularly around using insulin injections as this was a completely new territory for me and I was scared and nervous about it.
Instead, I was rejected from support group after support group, even after I explained my situation. All because I didn’t have type 1 diabetes. I was told that people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes had completely different needs and that it wasn’t appropriate for me to sit in an be a fly on the wall.
Sure type 1 and type 2 are completely different. But I couldn’t understand or forgive the lack of compassion and empathy showed. Over the years, my understanding and experiences of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes sharing similar psychosocial challenges has grown grown. Physiologically they may be very different conditions, but people with diabetes share more in common psychosocially than they realise. Especially when it comes to dealing with the stigma, isolation and misinformation around diabetes.
Research worldwide has also acknowledge that recruiting young adults with type 2 diabetes is a challenge. With seriously low response rates, it’s difficult to understand and develop evidence-based management strategies best suited to this group.
I believe engaging with young adults with type 2 diabetes starts with us. It starts with our attitudes and our work as advocates. As part of the diabetes community, we need to stand together and speak out against stigma and misinformation. We need to be inclusive and sensitive to those living with various types of diabetes. We need to encourage people to speak up and share their story to promote an understanding of how different yet similar living with diabetes can be for each person. Most importantly, we need to continue supporting each other.