Type 2 diabetes advocate Mila Clarke Buckley partnered with us to talk about her personal journey and about Healthline’s new app for those living with type 2 diabetes.
Mila Clarke Buckley found herself overworked and burned out at 26 years old. So much so that she chalked up her tiredness, light-headedness, and extreme thirst to the demands of her digital communications job.
But when her symptoms lingered in spite of her getting rest, Buckley visited her primary care doctor. In 2016, after several tests, Buckley learned she had type 2 diabetes.
“I had already been doing what doctors tell you to do when you get diagnosed with diabetes. I was exercising every day, had good eating habits, and I had lost 30 pounds before that visit with the doctor,” says Buckley.
“So when they told me I had type 2 diabetes, I didn’t think it made sense, and I was confused why I had this diagnosis,” she says.
In retrospect, she says understanding her family history could have given her insight to her risk for developing the condition. Both her mother and maternal grandmother were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after having gestational diabetes.
“I was surprised that I had never been pregnant, but I had diabetes. Even when I lived with my parents, I saw my mom taking her medications and pricking her finger, but I just thought it was something she had to do. She didn’t really talk about it, so I didn’t really ask. It was just part of who she was,” says Buckley.
When the reality of her diagnosis set in, Buckley worked hard for 3 months to improve her condition with diet and exercise. However, her A1C levels required she go on medication.
To cope with her condition, she turned to the internet for support. While social media offered some help, she says in many ways it was a dead end.
“Finding people who were openly willing to talk about how they were living with diabetes was hard, especially with type 2,” she says. “Most people diagnosed with type 2 [were older than me], so it was really hard to find people my age to connect with who were open to talk about it.”
After navigating her condition for a year, Buckley made it her mission to help others looking for support.
In 2017, she started a blog called Hangry Woman, which aims to connect millennials living with type 2 diabetes. She shares recipes, tips, and diabetes resources with thousands of followers.
Her first book, “Diabetes Food Journal: A Daily Log for Tracking Blood Sugar, Nutrition, and Activity,” encourages those living with type 2 diabetes to take active steps to manage their condition.
Buckley’s advocacy continues with her latest endeavor as a community guide for the free T2D Healthline app.
The app connects those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes based on their lifestyle interests. Users can browse member profiles and request to match with any member within the community.
Every day, the app matches members from the community, allowing them to instantly connect. This feature is Buckley’s favorite.
“It’s interesting to get matched with someone who shares your same passions and same ways of managing diabetes. A lot of people with type 2 feel like they are the only ones going through it, and they don’t have anyone in their lives to talk to about their frustrations,” says Buckley.
“The matching feature connects you with people who are like you and facilitates a conversation in a one-on-one space, so you build a good support system, or even friendships, that can get you through the lonely parts of managing type 2,” she says.
Users can also join a live chat held daily, led by Buckley or another type 2 diabetes advocate.
Discussion topics include diet and nutrition, exercise and fitness, healthcare, treatment, complications, relationships, travel, mental health, sexual health, and more.
“Instead of just sharing your A1C or blood sugar numbers or what you ate today, there are all these topics that give a holistic picture of managing diabetes,” says Buckley.
She’s proud to help facilitate a community that she wished existed when she was first diagnosed.
“In addition to helping people connect with each other, my role is to encourage people to converse about diabetes and things they are going through. If someone is having a bad day, I can be that encouraging voice on the other end to help them keep going by telling them, ‘I feel you. I hear you. I’m rooting for you to keep going,'” says Buckley.
For those who like to read information related to type 2 diabetes, the app provides lifestyle and news articles reviewed by Healthline medical professionals that includes topics like diagnosis, treatment, research, and nutrition. You can also find articles related to self-care and mental health, and personal stories from those living with diabetes.
Buckley says the app has something for everyone, and users can participate as much or as little as they like.
You may feel most comfortable just signing into the app and scrolling through the feed, or you may want to introduce yourself and engage in as many conversations as you can.
“We’re here for you in whatever capacity feels right,” says Buckley.
Cathy Cassata is a freelance writer who specializes in stories about health, mental health, and human behavior. She has a knack for writing with emotion and connecting with readers in an insightful and engaging way. Read more of her work here.