Interview with YouTube Star Diabetic Danica, Part II

Danica, better known by her YouTube username, DiabeticDanica, has had Type 1 diabetes since she was 11. We interviewed Danica about her experience with diabetes, what inspired her to start making and sharing videos on YouTube, and how she maintains a positive attitude.

Click here to read Part I.

What inspired you to start creating and sharing videos about your experience with diabetes?

Initially, I just started my YouTube channel because it looked like fun. I had been watching a lot of YouTube videos and the overall consensus was that if you wanted to make videos you should make them about something you are passionate about. For me, that was diabetes!

I initially just wanted to debunk all of the misconceptions that were out about Type 1 diabetes, like that we can’t eat sugar or that you can reverse it with diet and exercise. The fact that no one knew how different Type 1 diabetes was from Type 2 bothered me so much, and I wanted to set the record straight!

When I started, it never even occurred to me that this channel could give me a glimpse into what it’d be like to be a diabetes educator – almost like a test run for the profession! I remember being super excited when I hit just 13 subscribers; I thought that was so much!

What have you learned/gained from your experience as a YouTube vlogger?

I’ve actually learned so much from my YouTube channel. While it initially appears that I am the one giving all of the educational input, I learn a lot from my viewers too! It is so awesome to be able to have a community of people who you can reach out to when you are struggling with something diabetes-related or when you are excited about something! I have a bunch of people now who know exactly what I am going through. So if I get a new diabetes gadget, they’re excited too! If I have a crazy high blood sugar, they can relate!

I think also when you talk about diabetes so much, it just makes you take care of it better. I was dedicated to taking the best care of my diabetes possible before I started my channel too, but especially since having my channel, I have noticed that since I am more focused on diabetes and aware of it, it has increasingly motivated me to take better and better care of myself, and that is an incredible thing! When you not only get a bunch of feedback from your viewers about how much you’ve helped them to cope with diabetes or taught them about diabetes, but also find yourself benefiting too, it's really cool.

Apart from that, I’ve even had some cool opportunities crop up from my channel. I got to intern at Novo Nordisk two summers ago, an experience I believe I probably received in part due to my YouTube channel. I also got into a really good nursing school, was able to attend AADE (the national diabetes educator conference) and companies now send me diabetes products to try out for them. Overall, it’s just really exciting and I can’t wait to see where it takes me in my career too!

How has your experience with diabetes shaped your educational/career path?

Diabetes has completely shaped my career path. I am currently working towards my BSN (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing) so that I can work towards becoming a CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator). I want to work in pediatrics especially since I just love kids so much and am especially interested in Type 1 diabetes, which tends to be more in the pediatric population right now.

I feel like, for those kids, having a diabetes educator who actually has diabetes and has used syringes, pens, a pump and CGM will be so helpful. They’ll be able to trust what I say because I have literally been in their exact situation. I hope to be someone who they can look to for advice and support, and I can show them that they really can do this whole diabetes thing.

I started at such a low point, and if I can bounce back from that and do all of the great things I have been able to do (play varsity sports, get two Bachelor’s degrees, travel internationally, live on my own, etc.), then they can too! I don’t want anyone to feel like diabetes is a death sentence. Diabetes should never stop you from doing anything you want to do. As long as you take the time to put in the extra work, your diabetes doesn’t have to ruin your life.

How do you stay positive despite having diabetes?

I think I’m an optimist by nature because it is just so much better that way. The mind is a really powerful thing. When I’m having a bad day, I can literally stop and CHOOSE to turn it around. I can choose not to focus on the negative, focus on the positive, and take it one day (and one blood sugar!) at a time. You can choose happiness. You don’t want your attitude to rest on your circumstances because your circumstances are never going to be perfect. So why not make your attitude the best possible? When I focus on the positive, I am happier and take better care of myself.

Another big factor for me is my faith. I am a Christian, and when I stop to pray about what I’m struggling with, it always makes me feel so much better. I try to remember that God has made me for a purpose and that he will never leave me. I can always find my strength in Him.

And finally, a huge support for me is my family. My family members were the most supportive people possible when I was diagnosed, and I couldn’t have come this far without them constantly being there for me emotionally but also physically by helping me check my blood sugar in the middle of the night and taking burdens off of me by ordering my prescriptions when I was little.

So when it comes to diabetes, I try not to focus on the fact that I will probably have this disease for my whole life. I don’t focus on the fact that most of my friends don’t deal with this. I don’t focus on the fact that complications are a possibility. I choose to focus on making today’s blood sugars the best that I can, surrounding myself with positive and supportive people, and living my life to the fullest! You don’t just want to survive with diabetes; you want to thrive with diabetes. And there are so many great tools out there that you can use to stay healthy – you just have to be willing to put in the work and not put your life on hold just because you have non-functioning beta cells!

Photo: Pexels

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