After a few weeks of incessant grumpiness and exhaustion, in addition to far too much caffeine intake, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to sustain this lifestyle I had created for myself for much longer. Sure my grades were great, but I also wasn’t getting enough sleep and can admit now that I didn’t handle my stress well. I was constantly riddled with anxiety over my grades, and I let my health, the one thing that should have been my main priority, slip through the cracks. I constantly resented the fact that I had T1D because it added a whole other level of stress that I simply couldn’t cope with. After having this disease for thirteen years, it wasn’t until college that I realized the toll that it was going to take on my entire way of living, and I loathed this realization.
It was challenging at first to allocate as much time and attention to checking my blood glucose and counting carbs as I was to writing papers and studying cellular respiration. However, once I came to the realization that nothing is more important than my health, I was able to find a happy medium that satisfied both my need to do well in school and my endocrinologist. Joining the Chapter of the The Diabetes Link at Simmons and leaning on newfound friends or “diabesties” for support were also instrumental in my success. Being able to talk to other people with T1D was immensely comforting, and coming from a small town in New Hampshire with practically no T1D friends, this was both a novelty and a blessing. Finding resources both on campus and within your friends and family can make a world of difference when it comes to managing a chronic disease like T1D as a college freshman.
I didn’t want to write this as such a pessimistic take on the first semester of college from the perspective of a person with T1D, but rather as an honest account that shows others who’ve experienced this that they’re not alone. It’s okay to struggle and have moments where you have absolutely no idea how you’re going to get through it. The important part is learning from these moments, and creating something meaningful from them. The first semester of college was difficult for me, but that doesn’t mean it will be for everyone. Just because a person has to live with a chronic disease doesn’t mean that they can’t be happy and healthy. Despite the stress, I am really thankful that I experienced my first semester, because I learned how to manage a busy schedule and my chronic disease. This is one of the most important life lessons I will ever learn. The key is to find the right balance, and remember that your life is more important than an 100 on a test.
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