advocacy: speaking up: staying strong

I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘Advocacy’ over the past few months. Part of this has been around some of the negative stereotyping & anger around the different ‘types’ of diabetes. Part of it has been around the health of my 91 year old mother, who is living with dementia, alongside a host of physical problems.

Advocacy starts with us, people living with diabetes. We need to speak up and say what we want. And health care providers need to understand that people with diabetes come to see them not to hear about diabetes, not to learn about diabetes, but to hear and learn about their own diabetes. In this way, it is easier to start with that person and work from them, not a text book. – See more at: https://www.diabetescantstopme.com/living-with-diabetes/advocacy-starts-here-its-all-about-your-diabetes/#sthash.6J02qo60.dpuf

Most of us probably tend to think of an ‘Advocate’ as someone other than ourselves, maybe as someone who ‘speaks for others’, in the same mould as a Lawyer perhaps, or an Environmental activist. This is certainly one way that Advocacy occurs. Did you know that there is a strong Diabetes Community online which supports and advocates for people with diabetes? One of the links you may find interesting is here:

And yes, my mother is now unable to speak for herself. It’s up to her family, myself and my sisters, to speak for her, to listen when she does express a wish or an opinion, but to be guided by what we know of her beliefs & opinions from the past, as well as making judgement calls based on the best advice available to us now. We Advocate for her.

There is another meaning to the word advocacy, a subtle difference, and a hugely empowering one. We can speak for others, sure. Maybe we speak up  already for others in the same situation we are in, maybe this involves bravery & courage. Importantly though, we can also speak up for ourselves.

“Advocacy starts with us, people living with diabetes. We need to speak up and say what we want.” Read more about what this means and how WE can be advocates here:

The following link provides advice which is Advocacy specifically around depression, and of course our organisation provides several services which can help you through periods of depression.

* Recognise. Recognition is one of the first steps in managing depression. The Mayo Clinic site has a list of symptoms broken down by age, but the signs of depression vary and not everyone might experience every symptom.

 

* Take action. If you feel depressed, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as you can. Depression symptoms may not get better on their own — and depression may get worse if it isn’t treated. Untreated depression can lead to other mental and physical health problems or problems in other areas.

 

* Treat. Your care team will help you define the treatments that are best for you, based on your diabetes, and if they diagnose depression. Staying on your treatment plan is tough, particularly if you don’t know anyone else who shares the same struggles. Diabetes often makes people feel alone. But you are not alone.

Support is available! There’s an entire online community of people with diabetes that “get it,” (just do a simple Twitter search on #DOC, ‘diabetes online communities’) who understand the struggle of daily managing diabetes through honesty, laughter and friendship. You are welcome to join that community.

– See more at: https://www.diabetescantstopme.com/uncategorized/diabetes-advocates-urge-more-awareness-about-depression/#sthash.dXWJk0T6.dpuf

* Recognise. Recognition is one of the first steps in managing depression. The Mayo Clinic site has a list of symptoms broken down by age, but the signs of depression vary and not everyone might experience every symptom.

 

* Take action. If you feel depressed, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as you can. Depression symptoms may not get better on their own — and depression may get worse if it isn’t treated. Untreated depression can lead to other mental and physical health problems or problems in other areas.

 

* Treat. Your care team will help you define the treatments that are best for you, based on your diabetes, and if they diagnose depression. Staying on your treatment plan is tough, particularly if you don’t know anyone else who shares the same struggles. Diabetes often makes people feel alone. But you are not alone.

Support is available! There’s an entire online community of people with diabetes that “get it,” (just do a simple Twitter search on #DOC, ‘diabetes online communities’) who understand the struggle of daily managing diabetes through honesty, laughter and friendship. You are welcome to join that community.

– See more at: https://www.diabetescantstopme.com/uncategorized/diabetes-advocates-urge-more-awareness-about-depression/#sthash.dXWJk0T6.dpuf

I just received a link via Social media to a story in the Tasmanian press today, a story by a young girl who is transitioning from being a child with diabetes, reliant on her mother, to being a young woman with diabetes, reliant on herself. Of course she will need support. Of course she will receive it. But she is finding her own way, & finding her own voice. In time, she may well become an Advocate for  people with diabetes. How fitting that the publication featuring this story is called the Advocate. You can read 14 year old Mollys’ story at the link.

Here at Diabetes Counselling Online we have a Team which is dedicated to Support & Advocacy. We speak up on your behalf in many situations, some of them personal, some of them on the World stage. We receive invitations to sit on various committees & panels which provide advice to Systems, pharmaceutical & device companies, & Government bodies, & to speak at a wide range of Forums, conferences, Expos, associations, & Education facilities. For many of us, though, Advocacy is very personal. We also speak up for ourselves. We live with diabetes, we are the parents of people with diabetes, we have diabetes ourselves, or we care for someone with diabetes. If you haven’t checked out our team, you can do so  at this link to our team page.

Row your own canoe, it's your journey! Advocate for yourself

Row your own canoe, it’s your journey! Advocate for yourself

All it takes to be an advocate is for us to be active in saying what we want, in not accepting negative stereotyping, whether directed at us or at others, in not laying blame at the feet of someone with diabetes because that makes us feel slightly superior, as though they somehow ‘deserve’ their diabetes. No one deserves diabetes. We all deserve the best advice & health care that is available to us & for those we care for. We can advocate for ourselves wherever we go.

We can also be advocates for those who cannot speak up, or who have no power to change their circumstances. For some people with diabetes in some countries, just being able to access insulin is beyond their means. You can speak up for them, too. The 100 Campaign aims to provide access to Insulin for children around the world. It’s not yet 100 years since Insulin was first made available. Maybe by the time we get to that 100 years anniversary, there will be 100% of children with diabetes around the world who can access safe insulin.

Advocate! It's about sharing our strength

Advocate! It’s about sharing our strength

Helen Wilde

Helen is a long term Senior Counsellor with Diabetes Counselling Online.

Helen is also the parent of a person with Type 1 diabetes, since 1979; and has  had Type 2 diabetes herself since 2001.

 

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