Michelle Sorensen is a smart woman with diabetes. She is self-employed, with a practice in clinical psychology. She helps her patients with problems such as stress, anxiety, depression and interpersonal issues. Using cognitive behavioral therapy, Michelle helps those coping with health issues such as diabetes. Michelle follows a vegan, plant based diet and says being self employed means she can manage her hours and find a healthy balance with a busy family life (4 children aged five and under). She says she is very fortunate to have supportive friends and family, particularly her husband, to help her juggle it all. She is better at attending to her health after 12 years of diabetes, but thinks it will always be a work in progress.
How old were you when you were diagnosed with diabetes and how long have you lived with diabetes?
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few weeks before my 25th birthday. I have now lived with this disease for 12 years. My biggest challenge in living with diabetes has also been one of my best growth opportunities. I have had to learn to put my self care first and prioritize my own needs. It is sort of a work in progress but I think in terms of my happiness and self awareness I am much healthier than I was before my diagnosis. So I do feel I live more fully because of my health crisis … but I have said before that now that I have learned my life lessons someone is free to find a cure!
Do you know any other women with diabetes?
I didn’t know any other women with Type 1 diabetes when I was diagnosed, although when I was growing up we had a family friend with diabetes. Since my diagnosis I have connected with other women with diabetes and it has been a wonderful source of support. I have benefitted from supporting them as well. A book like this would have helped me so much when I was first diagnosed. I read other books, desperate for support and information, and the details about future complications left me feeling scared and alone. I could have used some inspiration and encouragement!
What has been the greatest piece of advice you’ve received about living with diabetes?
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was in the form of instruction from my endocrinologist, who cared for me the first 8 years I had diabetes. I had been living with diabetes for about 3 years and was on the insulin pump a year when I broke down into tears at an appointment with her… I admitted that I was so busy at work dealing with everyone’s demands that I felt I barely had time to check my sugar, let alone prepare good food at home or exercise like I normally did. She wrote me a note to take two weeks off and said I should use the time to feel better and think about whether I could stay in that job and be healthy. I was in wonderful health while I was off work, and although it took another year to leave that job, I did eventually learn that anything I put before my health I risked losing… how can I be successful, happy, loving, etc if I can not be healthy?