By: Rachel Bills

In the summer of 2007 I spent most of my time at home eating hot pockets and binge watching the show “House”.  I was living every 13-year-old’s dream. One day, I saw an episode about a woman who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Her symptoms being unquenchable thirst, unexplainable weight loss and frequent urination. I remember looking around my room and noticing all the empty water bottles and realizing I had to pee…again…for the 5th time in an hour (not an exaggeration).

Of course, my next move was to hop on Web M.D. and look up “diabetes”. It was like the symptoms list was written just for me. A week later,  I was slapped with the diagnosis of “Juvenile Diabetic”. My first reaction was, “I TOLD YOU MOM” which was quickly followed by immense fear.

Now, Diabetes is not a death sentence, but it does require close monitoring and regulation. It took a few years before I fully grasped the reality of my diagnosis, and I’ve experienced many highs and lows (and I’m not just talking about blood sugar levels either).

Fast forward eight years, and I am a happy, healthy, well-controlled diabetic. I’ve recently noticed that my disease has not only affected how I approach my health, but also how I approach my work as a future Public Relations professional.

Here are the six ways Diabetes has prepared me to work in PR:

1. Expect the unexpected. In PR you MUST be a problem-solver. Unexpected complications are pretty much a part of your everyday life. Being diagnosed with diabetes was completely unexpected. The ups and downs have taught me resilience. Nothing can stop me unless I give it permission to.

2. Consistency. My body has to work on a consistent schedule. Deviations in my schedule can cause my blood sugars to be thrown off for days. In PR you have to be consistent and you have to meet your deadlines.

3. Self-motivation. No one is going to watch my diet, check my blood sugar or make me exercise. My health depends solely on me. This is something I carry into PR consistently. In order to be the best PR professional you always have to be pushing yourself.

4. Attention to detail. I learned to always have my supplies readily available: two types of  insulin, needle caps, blood sugar meter, test strips, finger poker (no one knows it’s scientific name), finger poker needles, batteries for meter and, of  course candy in case of low blood sugar. Details are not something I take lightly, which can mean life or death in the realm of PR.

5. Working through the pain. Some days, no matter how well I’ve managed my diet and blood sugar my body gets thrown off, and it affects my whole day. I move slower and my mood is altered, but if I let that slow me down every single time, I would never get anything done. The same goes for a day in the life of a PR pro and the ever-changing needs of their clients.

6. Know your limits. It’s weird how well I know my body. I often wake up in the middle of the night and I just know my blood sugar is high or low. I know when I need to take a nap because I’m getting sick; I know when I need to just call it a day, which has prepared me for the life of a PR pro. WE are constantly on the clock, and in order to remain sane you MUST learn your limitations.

Rachel Bills is a senior at Grand Valley State University with a double major in Communications/Advertising and Public Relations. She currently serves as the Vice President of Programming for Grand Valley’s Chapter of PRSSA. Rachel is a natural born creative with a passion for travel, art and nature.