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Suzie's Story

My name is Suzie and I have Type 1 diabetes. I am an artist, art and yoga teacher, and mother to a beautiful one year old boy! I also run Type One Writers - a worldwide penpal club for anyone living with Type 1, including parents of children with Type 1. I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 35 without showing any of the typical symptoms, following an organic preconception screen. My sister Zoe also lives with Type 1 diabetes and was diagnosed at age 16. Initially, I was misdiagnosed with Type 2 diabetes solely on account of my age. I lived with my Type 2 diagnosis for a few weeks before being correctly diagnosed with Type 1, and fell pregnant only a couple of months later with my first child. Navigating both pregnancy and a new illness made me feel so lonely and isolated - I didn't know a soul living with Type 1 who had also experienced pregnancy. During my pregnancy, I had so many disappointing interactions with health and medical professionals that clearly demonstrated how widely misunderstood Type 1 is, and I was often confused for having gestational or Type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, only 2 hours after giving birth, I was shamed by a doctor for using insulin during my pregnancy after my son was taken to the special care unit for having low blood sugars. This moment of ultimate vulnerability marked the beginning of my journey towards advocating for people living with Type 1 to hopefully lessen these kinds of experiences. Zoe initially set up Type One Writers back in 2018 with the aim of connecting people across the UK with Type 1 diabetes who perhaps, like her, knew very few other t1ds and wanted to vent a little, discuss the highs and lows, and to also feel a little less alone. At this time, Type One Writers was only open to those residing in the UK and over time, became a lot for Zoe to manage alongside her work commitments. I thought that revitalising Type One Writers with a global membership would be a fantastic way to ensure support and connection was accessible to anyone in need of it, regardless of where in the world you live. I feel that letter writing is a beautiful way to cross geographical boundaries, and the aim of Type One Writers is to foster heartfelt connections, promote empowerment and deepen relationships amongst the t1d community. Letter writing has so many benefits for mental and emotional health, in addition to supporting literacy skills. The mindful process of writing a letter invites you to reflect, and encourages you to slow down, whilst also providing opportunities to strengthen language skills and improve handwriting. The inclusion of parents of children living with Type 1 in our membership is very intentional. In our own experience as sisters both living Type 1, our parents are so caring and supportive, but will often share how they feel responsible and burdened by guilt. We understand that being a parent of a child with Type 1 comes with huge responsibility and countless challenges. I hope to provide a thoughtful space for parents to reflect, connect, share and support each other. Upon signing up to Type One Writers, I get to work on finding you a penpal that matches your preferences, and send you a bespoke stationery pack that I have lovingly designed to get you started on your letter writing journey. The pack includes 2 illustrated postcards, 2 hand illustrated pieces of writing paper, 2 stickers and a branded envelope, along with a handwritten welcome letter. To learn more about Type One Writers, visit https://typeonewriters.com or https://instagram.com/typeonewriters.

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