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Muswell Hill woman stars in ‘hidden disabilities’ BBC campaign

PUBLISHED: 13:49 12 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:38 13 July 2017

Georgia Macqueen Black has Type 1 Diabetes and features in a BBC campaign on 'hidden disabilities'.

Georgia Macqueen Black has Type 1 Diabetes and features in a BBC campaign on 'hidden disabilities'.

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A Muswell Hill woman is starring in a BBC ‘hidden disabilities’ campaign to raise awareness of the isolation different medical conditions can cause sufferers.

Georgia works for charity Shape Arts on the national disability arts collection and archive. Georgia works for charity Shape Arts on the national disability arts collection and archive.

Georgia Macqueen Black began her battle with Type One diabetes aged 11.

Now 23, the marketing officer at Shape Arts – a charity supporting disabled artists – is raising awareness of the hidden effects of the condition, and is featuring in the BBC’s online campaign.

“I wanted to get across the psychological impact. Diabetes is an impairment, but sometimes it can feel like a disability because of everything I have to do to manage it,” Georgia said.

Commenting on how it feels on a bad day, even after she has done everything in her power to get her blood sugar levels under control, Georgia added: “You feel ill. You can feel isolated. You don’t know where to put those feelings.”

The Cambridge University graduate describes managing diabetes as being like a full time job with the endless routine of blood tests, injections and a constant need to monitor what she eats and drinks - things many people don’t have to worry about.

Side effects such as exhaustion, headaches and nausea resulting from the lifelong condition can be crippling on top of its capacity to impair the immune system.

“Everyday it is wrecking my life, but you just have to get on with it. You can never go on holiday from it. There’s an emotional weight. That’s the hidden disability,” she said.

Georgia, who has a large support network, was inspired by her job documenting the work of disability rights campaigns, but she says that at the end of the day the experience of being diabetic remains with her.

“Your family are always there, but it’s still you with the high blood sugar. There’s a frustration that I’m alone in this. I face barriers of people not always understanding. There’s no instant understanding that diabetes is constant. I have to articulate that myself,” she said.

But with hundreds of thousands of people living with the condition, Georgia is clearly not alone, getting great support from staff at the Royal Free. “The care there is amazing,” she said, singling out nurse Jill Lomas for particular praise.

And on her reasons for sharing her story, she said: “It’s important to get a conversation going. The more it’s talked about the less people will feel isolated.”

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