Finding Balance– Body Image, Mental Health, & Diabetes

May 11, 2023
Destiny Islas
Destiny was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2018. She is the president of the CSULB Chapter of The Diabetes Link in Long Beach, CA, and was a 2022 NextGen Fellow. Destiny is pursuing her Masters in Public Administration with an emphasis on public policy. Her career goal consists of working in the field of children’s health policy and advocacy.
As a young adult in this day and age our body image, digital footprints and social platforms put an enormous amount of pressure on us to always strive for perfection. This can incorporate a variety of issues, especially when mixing it with the essence of mental health. Growing up I had learned to live with my anxiety disorder, and once I turned 20 I had to learn how to adapt to a whole new life of living with type 1 diabetes. All I can remember was being called “beautiful” every time my family had seen I had lost a substantial amount of weight– they didn’t know that it was a result of my previously undiagnosed diabetes. From being on what is deemed as “thicker” to suddenly slim and thin, I didn’t know how to take the “compliments” (if they were even considered that in the first place.) I had undergone a massive change that I was never ready for, and everyone else was focused on my appearance while I was trying to manage a life changing diagnosis. As much as I wanted to be happy that I was finally getting positive recognition after being body shamed within closed loved ones, it still never felt right. My co-workers started to notice this change too, but I continued to keep my diagnosis a secret since everything was all fluctuating so fast. I didn’t tell family, friends and coworkers about my diagnosis until I was 22 years old. Being in your 20’s has its own set of unique challenges, and being diagnosed with diabetes just made it more confusing on how to live life as a young adult living with two chronic illnesses. I was always thinking (overthinking) how I was never really good enough not only for my close inner circle but for society’s unattainable standards.
“Being in your 20’s has its own set of unique challenges, and being diagnosed with diabetes just made it more confusing on how to live life as a young adult living with two chronic illnesses.”
As someone with anxiety, I’m constantly overanalyzing these small but significant things. Adding more stress to my own life and still searching for answers that I was never going to find. Was I never beautiful to begin with? Is the physical beauty of things more important than the beauty within? I didn’t learn till just recently as I hit 25, that as much as society prioritizes physical appearance, shadowing the struggles of mental health that go with it will keep you in a constant loop of unfulfillment. You can perfect your exercise routine, eat healthy, and maintain a healthy body- but you must take care of your mind and soul. Otherwise you will forever be searching for something you might not find, and risk losing who you are in the process.

Your mental health is just as important as physical health. Even if you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s okay to express that- and even better seek help. Nurture, protect and heal your thoughts to the best of your ability, so you feel content as you are. Because even when others say you aren’t good enough, you will always know you are. It is okay care about physical appearances, but never forget to prioritize caring for your soul and mind. Get lost in finding yourself, make mistakes and grow with each passing day. Forever be gracious with yourself and the journey you embark on. As of today, I gained that weight back and don’t feel bad about it anymore. Living life is a blessing as it is. There is so much to life and I plan to explore it all. Live the life you love, surround yourself with those who motivate you and never forget to live a life you work so hard for. Ámate a ti mismo siempre.

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