The One Walk Step Challenge has officially ended, but that certainly doesn’t mean the battle to raise funds for T1D research and spread awareness for our community has ended. JDRF x Medtronic One Walk Step Challenge Ambassador Ryley Eckert knows this all too well, and uses her platform to speak up about the everyday challenges people living with T1D experience.
We caught up with Ryley to discuss:
- Making time for wellness
- Diabetes burnout and mental health
- The impact T1D tech has had on her life; and,
- The importance of spreading the word about diabadasses all over Australia who live with and manage T1D every single day
Our community know you well for your positive, motivational approach to living with T1D. What steps do you take to make sure you feel your best each day?
Unfortunately, I’m not positive and motivated with my T1D every single day. Life can get busy and diabetes can become just a bit too much to manage sometimes. I like to think that majority of the time I have a positive and motivational approach to living with T1D but I definitely have bad days.
I try to make sure I feel my best by reminding myself of one simple thing: I am doing the best that I can! Some days that’s all I can I do and if things aren’t going the way I want them to, then tomorrow is another opportunity to try again and reach my goals.
Remember to take it one day at a time and do the best you can. The better you look after yourself now, the less complications you will have later in life. I recently came across a quote that sums it perfect for me – ‘If you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.’ As hard as some days can be, as long as you are showing up in some capacity and trying your best, you’re winning.
You’ve spoken before about feeling angry with yourself for “letting your management and control of diabetes get so out of hand”. Could you tell us about that period of your life and how you coped?
When I feel like my management is out of hand, I feel like such a failure. I feel like I have disappointed my family, my endocrinologist and myself. No matter how hard I try to have everything run as smooth as possible (which we all know can’t happen all the time), things do get out of hand. But, they don’t have to stay that way forever.
A few months can go by and I’ll be feeling fine, but suddenly everything catches up with me and I don’t feel in control of my management. Life can get so busy, and it’s not until you have a moment to catch your breath that you realise just how much you have let it get out of control.
When this happens, I found taking a step back, focusing on what is important, reassessing my priorities and setting myself goals really help me get back on track. I reach out to my family and friends to share how I’m feeling and that I am struggling. Asking for help is so much easier than doing it on your own. I start by making small steps and slowly increasing my focus onto different areas of my management until I am back in a place I’m happy with. Of course, life is always changing so its important to change your goals to suit your current routine.
What are your top three tips for people living with T1D to help maintain their mental health when things get hard?
Your mental health is so important and something that needs to be cared for. Living with T1D can have a huge impact on your mental health as it isn’t easy and we must manage it 24/7. I have found many ways that work for me to maintain my mental health. But, just like T1D, what works for one person may not work for another. If you are struggling, reach out for help – you’ll feel better for it.
My top three tips for maintaining your mental health when things get hard are:
- Remind yourself that you are doing the best you can and that is always enough. What we face every day isn’t easy, but you are constantly showing up. At the end of the day you are doing the best you can and that’s all we can ask of ourselves.
- You are not alone! There are over 120,000 people in Australia living with T1D. We’re all experiencing the same feelings and going through the same highs and lows. Reach out to the T1D community, find yourself a diabuddy and lean on them when things get hard. Reach out to family and friends and ask them for extra support. You are not alone in this and never will be.
- Remember, you are human. Yes, you will make mistakes and things won’t always go the way you want them to go, but you are human. Take a step back, take a deep breath and re-evaluate your goals. Have a cry if you need to (I certainly feel better after a good cry haha) and try again. There are no rules that you need to follow and there is no right or wrong way. Don’t compare yourself to others, focus on you and what works for you.
How has T1D technology impacted your life?
The technology which helps manage our diabetes is incredible! Technology has improved my management style by providing me with more flexibility and confidence every day. When I was first diagnosed, there were no smart programs to download your pump to. I’d record my levels and units of insulin taken in a log book and take that to my appointment with my educator for review. There were no apps easily accessible on our phones to help us carb count.
Technology has had such a positive impact on my life and I don’t know where I would be without it.
It’s so exciting to see the upcoming T1D technology developments and the new ways we can review our data. It certainly makes managing your diabetes so much easier, especially regarding how we communicate our levels and settings to those who need it.
You’ve participated in the One Walk Step Challenge for over 12 years and raised over $12,500. Why are you so passionate about turning type one into type none?
I absolutely love JDRF and what they do. T1D isn’t easy and there is no break from it. It is 24 hours, 7 days a week and no two days are the same. There are so many brave and amazing people out there who don't let diabetes stop them and I love watching them succeed.
I am passionate about creating awareness of T1D and highlighting all the diabadasses out there smashing their management and not letting it stop them. I want to educate people about what it’s like. Unless you know someone living with diabetes, you don’t understand the struggles and just how strong we have to be.
None of us asked to have this disease, and any funds and awareness I can create gets us one step closer to turning type one into type none. The funds and awareness also help acknowledge and celebrate people living with T1D for what we do to keep ourselves alive.
It will be amazing to one day celebrate all this work we all do create awareness for T1D by creating a world where we can say “I used to have type 1 diabetes”.