Passionate about helping others and opening up the conversation around type 2 diabetes, Jamie has documented his journey since his diagnosis in 2018 on social media. Sharing his highs, lows, and everything in between, Jamie’s building a supportive community of others who are all on the same journey. We caught up with him to find out more.
What inspired you to share your type 2 diabetes journey on social media?
From the age of about 13, I started using journals to write poems and lyrics, and for doodles and drawing. This pretty much stopped in my late 20s until I discovered Instagram, which in many ways is a digital replicant of those analogue books. Creatively documenting my days is always something I’ve enjoyed doing.
It was broadcaster and journalist Charlie Webster who inspired me to share my story so openly. While working for Sky TV at the Rio Olympics, she contracted Malaria and went on to document her journey to recovery online. What struck me was how open and honest she was, and she was always sharing posts about how running and exercise helped her physically and mentally.
When I started my account I was too ashamed to use my own name or post of myself. Even now, I keep the account private from friends and family—partly because of the shame but also because it would inhibit the way I post. I slowly grew in confidence and after about a year, I started sharing my first name and selfies.
I’ve met some incredible people through the platform but there’s still work to be done—not enough people are talking openly about type 2 diabetes.
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Why is important to open up the conversation about type 2 diabetes?
It’s so important because type 2 diabetes doesn’t just impact your physical health, but your mental health and self-esteem, too.
Mainstream media have labelled people living with type 2 diabetes as being ‘fat’ or ‘lazy’ without any thought to the damage this does and without reporting on the many complexities of the condition. Plenty of overweight people don’t have type 2 diabetes, while many of a ‘normal’ weight do! It feels like it's been pushed underground. People talk about weight loss but not about their type 2 diabetes story.
Sharing and learning are important to me, it helps me understand the disease in more detail and if I can help just one person in the process, then it’s been worthwhile.
We need to break the stigma to move the conversation in a more productive and balanced direction.
And finally, what’s been a positive outcome of your diagnosis?
I love that question, so many positives!
A big positive for me has been taking on challenges like marathons and raising money for various charities in the process. Since my diagnosis in May 2018, I’ve completed three marathons and have raised about £5k for charities such as the Samaritans, MS Society, and Diabetes UK. Driving myself forward physically has also helped massively with my mental health while also helping me manage my type 2 diabetes without the need for medication.
Knowing that I might be helping other people with their own type 2 diabetes battle via my Instagram account is also very rewarding, and I’ll continue advocating for openness and honesty about type 2 diabetes for as long as possible!
You can follow Jamie’s journey over on Instagram @type2nme, where you can cheer him on as he trains for this year’s London Marathon!