Diagnosed at age 14

Hi, I’m Motria. I’m a JDRF graphic design volunteer and user experience and interface designer based in Victoria, BC. I have been living with T1D for over 11 years. I was diagnosed with type T1D at the age of 14 on June 1st, 2010. The months leading up to my diagnosis, I noticed I was losing weight, but I thought it was attributed to starting club sports for the first time. The week before being diagnosed, I went on a trip for a few days with my grade 8 class. I was insatiably thirsty to the point where I was picking up random water bottles rolling around the bus to drink them. I had lost so much weight; you could see all my bones. I couldn’t stay awake. I was slowly going into a diabetic coma.  

I had no idea about the severity and complexity of type 1 diabetes when I was diagnosed. The best way to describe it is being given the keys to a helicopter without any training. Once I started taking insulin, I noticed my body quickly started changing because my body’s cells were finally given the insulin they desperately needed in order to turn food into energy. I struggled with my body image because of how fast I started gaining weight from the insulin and during my teen years, I resented myself for not maintaining the same weight I was at before I was diagnosed. Throughout my teen years, I struggled with my relationship with insulin; I would ration my dosing to lose or control weight. I also felt extremely guilty for the financial burden T1D caused for my family. 

In high school, I was bullied for having T1D, by both classmates and sports teammates. It was to the point where I was ganged up on and harassed until I was in tears. I struggled to manage my diabetes and no matter how hard I tried, I was always made to feel like I wasn’t doing good enough. At work, I have been discriminated against by managers who told me I was not allowed to check my blood sugar unless I was on my break. High and low blood sugars for people with T1D don’t just happen on breaks!  

I struggle with being self-conscious about my illness. I’ve been embarrassed when I’ve had low blood sugars because I start to sweat, shake, and become weak. I feel even more embarrassed when my diabetes affects my ability to perform at school, work, or elsewhere. It feels like I need to prove that I am better than my illness, regardless of how well I’m already doing.  

Although type 1 diabetes has negatively impacted my life in many ways, there have also been many positives. Type 1 diabetes is part of who I am and through practicing self-compassion for my own illness, I’ve developed a deep sense of empathy for the struggles of others. I am extremely grateful for the incredible friends I’ve made because of my diabetes. Even though I sometimes still feel the need to prove that I am better than my diabetes, it has pushed me to work that much harder and even achieve more than others who do not manage a chronic life-long illness. My experience with type 1 diabetes has inspired me to turn my own negative experiences into something positive for others. 

In honour of Diabetes Awareness Month, 100 years since the discovery of insulin, and the challenges faced by those living with diabetes, I started a $10,000 fundraising and awareness campaign to help JDRF accelerate funding for the most promising research into a potential cure for diabetes! I had many ideas on how to approach the campaign. With the help of JDRF, my family, and friends, the campaign has exceeded its $10,000 goal in only 3 weeks! I am excited to be a part of finding a cure for diabetes and once and for all, defeating the T1D monster! 

Please visit Motria’s website: 

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