• Kajsa Sagebrand

Guest Writer: Filippa Jartén - "Tre liv med diabetes"

My name is Filippa Jartén,​ I am​ 23 years old and I live in Stockholm.​ Things that bring me joy and inspiration are: friends & family and travel & explore new places. My topic for this guest writing is when I moved to Los Angeles to study, my life with type 1 diabetes and my dream and vision to increase knowledge about diabetes. If you want to find out more about me, you can find me on Instagram at ​@filippajarten or @trelivmeddiabetes.

In 2019, I moved to the USA with the idea that nothing is impossible. Why I went with this mindset is because of the chronic disease I live with, type 1 diabetes. I have always had the dream of studying in the USA and Los Angeles has always been a place that has catch my interest. I therefore decided to study there, and I moved to LA in the summer of 2019. When I was 1 year old, I got type 1 diabetes. Since both my big sister and I got diabetes at an early age, diabetes has always been a big part of our family. During our childhood, our parents have always wanted that we should be like ordinary children and not live a limited life, for which I am incredibly grateful. It is possible to do what I want in life despite this illness, but it often requires a lot of planning and sometimes also an adjustment. Or everything I want is actually not true, to train as a pilot or police officer is not something I'm allowed to do because of my diabetes, but luckily it has never been my dream profession either...

Type 1 diabetes means that the pancreas can no longer produce insulin, which is needed to control blood sugar levels. This, therefore, needs to be done manually with about 8-10 insulin injections and 8-10 blood sugar controls per day. Diabetes is a disease that is with you every minute, 24 hours a day, and I usually describe it as a full-time job you can never take a vacation from. It becomes a very mentally difficult disease because you constantly have to think one step ahead, "how much insulin should I take for this food? How is my blood sugar now? Am I going to work out later? Should I walk to work? Is it hot or cold outside? Am I happy or sad?" and so on. Because it is not only what you eat that matters, there is an incredible number of other factors that can more or less have an effect on blood sugar. There are also no written rules, and every diabetes is individual.

Living with a chronic illness that only 50,000 people in Sweden live with is often a challenge, and over the years, I have met a lot of prejudice and ignorance, such as "It's probably your own fault, maybe you have eaten too much candy." But it is not my own fault that I have got this disease, and researchers still don't know exactly why you get type 1 diabetes. My parents and my childhood have made me not feel so different, and it has also made me learn to accept that I have to live with diabetes. Meeting ignorance or prejudice is usually not so hard for me, I see it rather as an opportunity to teach someone else about my illness and spread knowledge, which will hopefully make it easier for the next diabetic.

In 2017, my friend Sandra and I started a podcast about what it is like to live with type 1 diabetes. We want to support other diabetics and relatives and increase knowledge about diabetes. Feeling alone with a chronic illness is something many people do. However, I have not felt alone because both my sister and one of my closest friends have the same disease. We support each other and understand each other like no one else does. My sister Felicia is today also part of the podcast, which today is called "Three lives with diabetes" (Tre liv med diabetes).

We talk about how to live with diabetes, how to handle certain situations such as the years as a teenager, dating, partying and everything in between. We also invite guests to the podcast to share other people's stories and we have had the honor of having several great profiles guesting. We receive an incredible number of questions and responses from both relatives and other diabetics to our channels. This is in my opinion the best thing about our podcast and the work we do, to feel that we provide support, help others and make a difference through our podcast.

Studying in college in Los Angeles is definitely the best choice I have made, and it made me realize that almost anything is possible for me, it just needs a little more planning. Today I study media and communication in Stockholm, and we wish that our podcast will grow even bigger and more knowledge about diabetes will be spread.

Growing up with diabetes has made me the person I am today, and I see it as one of the strongest strengths because if I can manage this disease every day, I can do everything!