Four years ago I decided I was going to seek out other individuals living with type one diabetes. I realized in my sixteen years of having diabetes, I had not made a single friend or really interacted with anyone who had any experience with the illness.
I googled and found JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), which sent me on a fast journey into the deep community of individuals and families who spent the majority of their day thinking about blood sugars, carb counts, insulin dosage and all the complicated facets of our chronic condition. I instantly felt like I had discovered a world there people spoke a secret language and lived the life I had been keeping in secret out in the open.
As I met more and more people and joined more organizations I learned the importance of these connections. They were to me, life changing. I attribute my health today to these connections and these people who freely gave their understanding and experience as tools for me to live better with diabetes.
I completed my graduate thesis for my masters in photography, with portraits of some of these people. I wanted to address the invisibilty I had felt for so many years and the shame I felt for not being able to handle that burden on my own.
Without the support of my community, I would be a very different person in a very different state of health. The photo above is a recreation of one of the photos from my thesis that I was able to shoot with three of the boys that changed my view on my diabetes the first summer I dove into the community.
In the photo on the left, only two of the boys had diabetes. In the third, all three do. Can you tell? Can you tell that any of them have diabetes?
This issue seems so relevant to me today as I prepare to go to the Women's March on Washington in a few days. While we are all worried about how this election affects us personally, I am finding it so important to extend understanding to all people and their journeys regardless of their appearance. We all have invisible stories, challenges and values. I appreciate you listening to mine.
More photos from these amazing young adults below.