Founder of Type 1 Clothing and living with Type 1 diabetes
Natalie Balmain is a designer with Type 1 diabetes (T1D). Known for her line of adapted fashion for T1Ds – Type 1 Clothing – Natalie counts Barack Obama and Tom Cruise among her famous followers and is realistic about the difficulties of managing Type 1.
Everyone on my timeline seems to be slimmer than me, running more marathons than me, spending more time in their target range and getting better HbA1cs.
Like any T1D, I’ve learnt a lot about diabetes over the years; from understanding the research to the arsenal of skills required to self-manage. But I think one of the hardest, and probably most important things I’ve learnt is to be positive, even when T1D is kicking my butt (which it does – regularly)!
Now, while I’m all for those uplifting ‘you can achieve anything’ posts on social media (after all, I’ve been the author of many of them, and the message absolutely is true) I think it would be remiss to leave it at that – this is real life after all. And real life, as much as Instagram wants you to believe otherwise, is not perfect. Nor are we – and, dare I say it, nor should we be. Perfection, I’ve learnt, is a paradox. It is simply not realistic to expect perfection in everything we do, all the time.
In the glossy world of social media it’s easy to believe that perfection exists, and that it is easy, because everyone else seems to be doing it. Everyone on my timeline seems to be slimmer than me, running more marathons than me, spending more time in their target range and getting better HbA1cs. I don’t think I need to explain why that is not a healthy view of the world; as soon as you start to feel hopeless, you lose the most crucial part of your ability to self-manage – determination.
You have to be determined to self-manage; and that’s hard
Don’t get me wrong, I want to share my picture-perfect moments as much as anyone: that occasional ‘flat line’ day, the days I’ve finished a hike without turning into a sweaty hypo mess (thank goodness for my monitor, or those days simply wouldn’t happen). These are things we want to share because we are proud of them. But those perfect moments are just that – transient moments of greatness in an otherwise pretty average life. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the same is also true of others, especially when your timeline is made up of a few hundred T1Ds all sharing their own perfect moments!
Yes, I probably could work a bit less and establish more of a routine so that I have flat lines more often, spend more time in target and get a better HbA1c, but I would have to change my life to achieve that. There’s nothing wrong with anyone making that their priority, but personally, I want to live the life that I love – with all the stress, chaos and irregularity that comes with it. If that means I have to be positive about not being perfect, then sorry Instagram – we just aren’t meant to be.