RAiISE Your Voice is a blog series in which we provide a platform for young people to share their stories and speak up about issues they face whilst living with invisible illnesses and conditions. In this post, we hear from Chris Bright, who has lived with type 1 diabetes for most of his life.
Since September 1999, I’ve had the challenge of living with a condition called type 1 diabetes. To anyone from the outside looking in at my life, it looks like countless injections, monitoring my blood glucose levels continuously, and ultimately trying to avoid hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose level) or hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose level) – every single day, whilst tackling the world like anyone else. In practice, it’s a whole lot more than this too.
There’s also all of the thoughts and concerns that follow the process of making decisions which ultimately impact on your quality of life – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But this is my life. I’ve been living like this since the age of eight, and despite the fact it’s a slightly tougher life than many others in society, I’ve never, and never will, use it as an excuse to shy away from a challenge or to stop pushing myself. In fact, it’s been the opposite. My condition has motivated me to push harder than many others to achieve my goals and prove the people in society wrong about what diabetes is, and the limitations that many might have thought were there for me.
“Diabetes hasn’t held me back but instead provided me with a purpose and a direction.”
This mindset has led me to some incredible places which I’ve enjoyed every second of. I’ve recently graduated with my Master’s degree, studying around type 1 diabetes and a project I created. I’ve had the opportunity to represent my country (Wales) in Futsal across Europe, and I’ve led the creation of a type 1 diabetes Futsal team which represented the UK and our condition in a European tournament. These are just a few of high moments in my life with the condition. Diabetes hasn’t held me back but instead provided me with a purpose and a direction.
That hasn’t come without challenges from the world around me though… living with a condition is tough enough, without having to deal with the stigma from mainstream society that surrounds it as well. Diabetes has been stigmatised with poor lifestyle choices and this idea that you’ve brought it on yourself, whilst the image of injections continues to be plagued with the stereotype of a drug addict. This stigma has been something I’ve been faced with throughout my life with type 1 diabetes, and has been something I’ve had to overcome at every turn, especially in a ‘show no weakness’, macho and masculine environment within male sport. However, that doesn’t mean it’s right to accept that as how life must continue to be. So, in 2017, I decided that I wanted to create an organisation which embodied what I needed growing up, which was a chance to speak to people with my condition who shared my passion, and so The Diabetes Football Community was born. We aim to provide peer support, education, participatory opportunities in Football/Futsal and a place to share the challenges of living with diabetes day in and day out. If anyone wants to check out some of the work The Diabetes Football Community does, you can go to our website www.thediabetesfootballcommunity.com and you can find us on social media too.
To finish up, my favourite message to pass on to others around chronic illness is a quote I like to reference. “The greatest view comes after the hardest climb.” For us, to reach our goals or our summit, our journey will always be that much tougher than many others, but when we do, the view will feel that much greater. We will always have an extra appreciation for life, taught to us by the hardship of our daily struggles and this should be something we feel grateful for. If we believe in our abilities, whatever those may be, we can get there… it might just need us to be ready to take on the tougher route to the summit.
“The greatest view comes after the hardest climb. We will always have an extra appreciation for life, taught to us by the hardship of our daily struggles.”