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Mental health

Supporting your mental health with type 1 diabetes: Q&A with Emily Vuong

JDRF
JDRF
December 19, 2021

We talked with with type 1 diabetes (T1D) influencer, future high school science teacher and mental health advocate Emily Vuong as part of our 2022: Time to Kick T1D Goals campaign. Diagnosed with T1D when she was 14 months old, Emily talks about her journey to accepting her diagnosis, how she manages her T1D while doing what she loves, and her tips for supporting your mental health.

Let’s dive right in…

How old were you when you were diagnosed with T1D? What has been the biggest impact it has had on your life so far?

I was diagnosed at 14 months old- so just a baby! I think the biggest impact has been the relentless nature of diabetes. There are no days off. Having diabetes has definitely made me more diligent and responsible.

Has your perspective on having T1D evolved throughout the years? Looking back, what’s something you would tell your younger self?

I have been through a long journey in coming to accept having diabetes. In my younger years, I was embarrassed of having T1D and tried to hide it at all costs. This manifested in disordered eating which really impacted my mental health. I also went through a period where I thought my blood sugars had to be perfect 24/7, which was simply unattainable. Now, I’m in a much better place with my diabetes management. I try to be as balanced as possible.

What are some of your hobbies and favourite things to do? Does living with T1D impact these things?

My two favourite things to do are go out to eat and exercise… both of which have their challenges when it comes to diabetes!

It has taken a lot of trial and error but I’m finally in a place where I (mostly) know how to manage my blood sugars around exercise. I love to run, lift weights at the gym, and do outdoor activities like paddle boarding and hiking.

Similarly, it has taken a lot of trial and error to learn how to bolus correctly for different kinds of foods! I had to do a lot of trial runs for pizza especially.

On your Instagram platform, you share about the impacts T1D has on mental health. What are some things you do to help take care of your mental health and wellbeing while living with T1D?

Living with diabetes can be incredibly mentally taxing. I try to take care of my mental health by asking for help when I need it, doing things that I know will lift my mood (like exercise and watching Netflix) and properly resting when I need to.

Joining the online diabetes community has also helped massively with the mental side of living with diabetes. I have made connections with people all around the world who can relate to what I’m going through. I’ve learned so many handy tips and tricks online too!

Here’s Emily on keeping your spirits up with T1D…

What kind of impact do you personally hope to have on the T1D community?

I feel a huge calling to be open with the mental health aspect of living with diabetes. I want to shine a light on the mental impact of having to deal with T1D and show people that they are not alone. Other than that, I also want to show people that it’s possible to live a full and healthy life with diabetes!

On a broader scale, I hope to show people the reality of what living with T1D can look like. I want to bring wider awareness to this disease so that the next generation doesn’t have to face the same stigma and misconceptions that are all too common in society.

Where can people find you?

You can find me on Instagram @emilysdiabetes. I can’t wait to connect with you guys on there!

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