When you live with type 1 diabetes there is SO, SO MUCH information to learn, especially in the early days. So much, that I don't think it is possible for any health care professional to cover absolutely everything - how could they? Then, as they years go by, we are considered the experts, and so information relevant to us falls through the cracks. One of the major benefits of diabetes support groups is that they can fill in the gaps. From explaining how a Long Term Illness book works to how to go about getting your many, many health checks, such as feet and eyes, to staying updated as the information changes, which it does all the time, to just knowing that you are not the only one.
In my opinion, diabetes peer support is as important in your diabetes management as your health care providers. A support group provides opportunities to share experiences and to learn from one another. They encourage strength and resilience. Very often it's the piece of diabetes management that you never knew you needed.
ConnecT1D in Seattle say that "people with T1D who connect with others with T1D tend to make shifts in their lifestyles that add up to better T1D management, better health and greater satisfaction in life."
Diabetes Forecast, the American Diabetes Association's monthly magazine says that "Much of the research on peer support has involved people with diabetes, and the findings are significant. According to a recent report by the National Peer Support Collaborative Learning Network, of 20 studies on peer support and diabetes published between 2000 and 2012, all but one found social support to be beneficial."
And it doesn't matter if that support comes from the virtual, social media world or from face to face contact. Although, you cannot beat face to face meetups. Click here to see if there is a support group in your area and to find out what social media supports there are in Ireland.
And I'm happy that more and more diabetes supports groups are starting up and growing in strength. I believe that a diabetes support group only needs two people to meet over a cuppa to get started. That might be a simplistic view of it but that’s what it is.
Another way to get connected to your type 1 diabetes community is to come to Thriveabetes, where you will meet at least one hundred other adults with type 1 diabetes and at least another one hundred parents of children with type 1 diabetes. Now, that is empowerment.
Register for Thriveabetes
Thriveabetes 2016 takes place on Saturday 1st October in Naas, Co. Kildare. Registration is open now and you can read more about our speakers here.