Until about three weeks ago, I’d never seen the words ‘social’ and ‘distancing’ in the same sentence. And then, suddenly, we were all being urged to practise this new form of keeping away from people.

What became apparent very quickly, however, was that social distancing could very easily lead to social isolation and that is not what the aim of keeping away from others was all about. Rather, it was about being physically distant from others. No more physical hugging, or cheek kissing. No more pats on the back or hand shaking.

But stopping physical contact doesn’t mean becoming disconnected to people. In fact, if there was ever a time that we need to feel connected to people, it’s now. And for me, I have never needed my diabetes tribe more.  I think that a number of others might just be in the same boat.

I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve spoken or written about how much I need my friends living with diabetes to help support my daily life with diabetes, or how they are an essential part of my diabetes management tool kit. In fact, I use this tweet so frequently when I am taking about diabetes peer support because it perfectly illustrates just how essential it is to me.

At the moment, as were locked in our homes, maintaining connections to others is far more difficult. My sister has just returned to Melbourne after over a year living on the west coast and apart from sitting in her garden while she stood at her front door, I’ve not seen been able to welcome her home. I’ve not hugged my parents for weeks, again seeing them only from out the front of their house as they stood on their veranda.

But when it comes to our diabetes peers, I’ve found it a little easier. Our DOC lives over the interwebs. We are physically distant pretty much all the time because most of the people that I spend my time talking to are literally in another country! I may not get to see my friends at conferences and meetings much in coming months, but that hasn’t stopped the messages and photos and videos and video calls.

Each night, before I turn my light out, I message friends to check in to see how they are. It takes nothing to send a quick message but the reassurance that there are others in the same boat, feeling the same fears and frustrations seems to calm and alleviate some of my stresses. And when I wake up there are always messages from friends who were awake while I slept checking back in on me. There are group chats with discussions that range from the incredibly serious to the (thankfully and much needed) absurd. Memes fly around and eyes are virtually rolled at some of what we are seeing online. And sometimes, but only sometimes, we talk diabetes…

I know that pretty much everyone around the world right now has some sort of concerns about COVID-19. Diabetes adds extra to that (because diabetes is a shit and just makes everything more difficult!). And that means that we want to unite with those who understand the extra bit of stress or pressure or anxiety. Find your tribe. And love them so, so hard. (Just do it from a distance at the moment….)