Everything is turning blue. In the US, today marks the start of Diabetes Awareness Month. Apparently, Diabetes New Zealand are also using November as an awareness opportunity, this year focusing on encouraging Kiwis to ‘Act now to live well with diabetes’. (You can read about their activities here.) 

While it’s not Diabetes Awareness Month in Australia, those of us in the Aussie diabetes world cannot escape that there is a lot of diabetes happening. We can choose to get on board or ignore it. Except, of course, on World Diabetes Day where we ring everything in blue circles.

Some years I’m totally gung-ho and all enthusiastic and happy to do the whole month. Other years I’m a little more subdued. This year, I think I’ll have a foot in both camps, which was apparent with my swinging mood this morning. I woke up and my attitude was firmly here:

But, after my shower as I searched for something to wear, almost automatically, I went straight for clothes that were blue. Blue. All blue! Every single thing: blue! (Including my eyeliner.)

Diabetes awareness means different things to different people. I firmly subscribe to the My Diabetes, My Rules philosophy, and that also encompasses the issues that we hold near and dear, and fight for with all the energy we can summon. And those issues will be different for different people.

For me, I’ll keep on keeping on throughout November, working on the issues that matter to me.  That includes neat little hashtags like #LanguageMatters and #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs. It also includes acknowledging that diabetes is a self-managed condition that we do ourselves more than 99 per cent of the time. I challenge ideas around consent and autonomy. I fight for us to be able to do diabetes in the way that we want – with the right support system around us, using what we need to be our best. I talk a lot about how diabetes is more than numbers and that screening and consideration of our mental health is just as important as screening and consideration of diabetes-related complications. And while we’re on complications, I have spent a great deal of time this year writing about how blaming and shaming people with diabetes and diabetes-related complications is damaging. I beg, beg, beg that Steel Magnolias not be held up as current case study for diabetes and pregnancy. Perhaps most loudly, I cheer the cause of PWD being represented, present, including, involved and highlighted when diabetes is on the agenda…any agenda! Life for a Child remains a cause very close to my heart and something I am privileged to be able to support. And I promote the value and need for peer support, clearly explaining how it is my friends living with diabetes – my tribe – who I count on most because they unquestionably ‘get it’ and that what we learn from our diabetes peers is absolutely critical.

The list is long and at first, it may look like I need to just settle on one or two things and do those properly rather than the half-baked mess it may appear.

But actually, when it all boils down, I think that the truth is that all those issues can be condensed into four main categories: Access, Respect, Choice, Health.

That’s what November is going to be about for me. I’ll keep banging a drum to what may now be a familiar tune. But there is lots more to do. And this month, I’ll be doing it in blue.