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Nick Jonas on diabetes: 'It has an effect on my creative life'

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Tyler Golden/NBC

At 13 years old, Nick Jonas was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. A member of a boy band at the time, Jonas immediately started using his fame to shine a light on the disease. Most notably, the Jonas Brothers’ 2008 song “A Little Bit Longer” touches on his years of struggling with the disease, and empowers those diagnosed with diabetes not to feel defeated.

“‘A Little Bit Longer’ was a song I was really happy to write,” Jonas, now 22, tells EW. “Probably in a lot of ways, it’s been therapeutic for me.”

And even though he’s on his own now, Jonas says his fight with diabetes continues to inspire his music. “It’s really shaped who I am as a person,” the “Jealous” singer says. “It has an effect on my creative life, the way I approach writing songs and doing all that.”

While sharing his struggles with diabetes publicly was a risk, Jonas has become a role model to young fans who suffer similarly. And the fans have become a source of strength for Jonas. “I’ve heard from a lot of fans over time that have actually encouraged me and lifted me up in moments when I was feeling down about it,” Jonas says. “That’s the beauty of building a community and trying to be transparent about something—you find strength in numbers, the people who lift you up when you need it.

“I didn’t know that sharing my story could help people, and it did.”

Not only does his journey empower others, but Jonas recently had the opportunity to help a young fan in need. “I was recently on a golf course by myself and this kid and his little brother came up, they were probably 10 and 12,” he recalls. “The kid was freaking out about something, trying to call his parents and I had a gut feeling it had something to do with diabetes. I asked what was going on, and he said he lost his [diabetes management] supplies. I offered to help, went and got him juice. He didn’t even realize at first that it was me. He went home and told his parents and his mom wrote me a long letter, saying ‘Thank you for helping me.’ It was really nice.”

After almost 10 years of living with diabetes, Jonas has found a routine that works for him to manage the disease, and the musician-turned-actor says he’s the healthiest he’s been since receiving the diagnosis.

Jonas has partnered with Dexcom, the company behind the supplies the star uses to manage his diabetes on a daily basis. “It’s great to have tools that just make it a little bit easier, because it can be very challenging,” Jonas says, “especially with a schedule like mine.”

The Kingdom actor feels so comfortable with his routine that’s he’s actually started showing off. Jonas admits, “I’m actually bragging about it and showing people my numbers.”