Type 1 diabetes, depression and anxiety – a constant struggle – Zoe Morris
It came as a complete shock being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after going into Diabetic Ketoacidosis. I felt like I was literally thrown into the deep end. It was in that split moment I felt like my whole world had been turned upside down. I didn’t really know a lot about Type 1 Diabetes back then to be fair, nor did I know what DKA was or exactly how life threatening it could potentially be.
The first few months after my diagnosis were hard, very hard in fact. Everything was just so overwhelming and I just didn’t know where to start. I was so scared but I didn’t want to show it. I didn’t want anyone to think that I was weak so I tried to put on a front to hide the fact that was struggling. I guess in the end, I tried to cope on my own with the stress of it all, but eventually one day it hit me. I couldn’t…
I had been having quite a few hypos leading up to this point due to the fact my doses were not quite right. It took a good few months for me to get the understanding of adjusting my doses and ratios. And because of this, sometimes, I’d get it wrong or misjudge it slightly and I would have a hypo. And for some reason, that day, I just burst into tears. I literally couldn’t cope anymore. I felt like I was just breaking down. Cracking under pressure in fact. The constant struggle with my own body was beginning to take its toll and it was getting to me mentally. I was low in myself, mood wise, I was stressed all the time and I wasn’t sleeping very well. I was an emotional wreck. It was all just so difficult and eventually I realised that I was suffering from depression and anxiety.
I had suffered from both of these conditions a few years before my diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes. I’d always been aware of the signs and what to look out for within myself because of this reason. So the fact that I was able to spot the signs in myself the second time round was actually a bonus. I was able to speak up and get the help I needed before I got further and further into the black hole like I did once before.
I guess you could say the struggles with my recent diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes has had a massive effect on me. Depression makes you feel as if you’re getting pulled down with no control of yourown. It literally takes over your body and mind. Everything around you seems dark and difficult but yet you’re screaming on the inside. The constant struggles and strains I was facing on a day to day basis ended up getting too much to cope with on my own. I had my depression under control for several years, tablet free, before my diagnosis. However the depression and anxiety both returned. Eventually I went to my doctor and told him exactly how I’d been feeling and voiced my concerns that I was suffering from depression and anxiety again. Admitting I wasn’t well was a huge turning point for me.
People seem to think that when you’re a Type 1 diabetic you just have a quick injection and that’s it. However, there’s so much more to it than just that. It’s not an easy condition to manage and it takes a lot of perseverance. Now imagine that with depression and anxiety too. It’s as if I knew what I needed to do, but my mind was taking over and stopping me.
Now that I’m on my medication it’s a little bit easier. I mean, I still have days where I literally just feel like throwing the towel in and saying ‘bye, bye diabetes!’ and technically giving up in a way but I know I can’t. My anti-depressant helps me deal with the stress and agitation I get. I know I’ll never be cured of depression or my battle with anxiety, just like my Type 1 Diabetes won’t be cured either. It’s like a commitment now. A do or die procedure in a way. My insulin is my lifeline; my survival kit I guess. Without it I will die. It sounds harsh but it’s the brutal truth.
There are a number of support groups out there diabetes, depression and anxiety. I found Facebook really helpful to find groups to speak to fellow Type 1 Diabetics or ‘Diabuddies’ as I like to call them. Diabetes UK also has a helpline called Careline.
I guess we’re all fragile to some extent and it’s amazing how a simple diagnosis can take a moment to alter the type of person we are today. However diabetes shouldn’t have to hold you back. I got told that a lot when I was diagnosed. I guess you never realise just how strong you are until you are expected to deal with a tough situation.
I’m thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.