The story of my diagnosis is actually quite similar to Summer’s on Coronation Street! I started to lose weight, and my family suspected I might have an eating disorder. I was at uni at the time, and although I was hungry all the time and eating lots of sugary foods, the weight was falling off me. I didn’t think much of it, in fact I quite liked it as I was receiving so many compliments on how I looked. But it got to the point where people started to worry about me – I’d lost 3½ stone, and when I came back from uni for the holidays, my parents were shocked at how thin I was.
My parents encouraged me to go to the GP. I told the doctor I was fine, just a bit thirsty. They did a finger prick test and immediately knew what was wrong. I ended up in hospital with a drip in my arm and a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.
Before my diagnosis, I didn’t think much of my symptoms, they just crept up on me. But looking back, I was constantly drinking water, I was going to the toilet several times a night, and my vision started getting blurry. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed and started to feel better that I realised quite how ill I had been.
When I was first diagnosed I didn’t really understand what food I could eat, or how much. I felt like I was winging it when it came to managing my blood sugars – I didn’t know what I was doing. I was having hypos at night and would wake up sweating, and I didn’t understand why.
Four years after my diagnosis I burst into tears during an appointment – I realised I wasn’t coping. The turning point for me was going on a carb counting course. It gave me the tools and the education to manage my diabetes well. That course was the first time I’d ever met anyone else with type 1 diabetes, and being able to talk to someone who was going through the same thing made all the difference. I think this was the real start of my recovery.
I felt like I was winging it when it came to managing my blood sugars – I didn’t know what I was doing.
How it affected my mental health
Following my diagnosis, my mental health was all over the place. I’d received so many compliments on my weight loss, that when I started to put the weight back on I didn’t feel good about myself, so sometimes didn’t take my insulin in order to lose weight. At the same time I was feeling so much healthier than before – it was such a mix of emotions.
My diagnosis definitely left me with some trauma. I was at an age where I was starting to find myself, and it felt like diabetes took that version of me away. Now when I look back, I’m grateful that it gave me the space to carve out a new me – a stronger, more confident version with new friends, a great career, and a whole community around me.
Diabetes is one of the worst and best things to ever happen to me. It’s like getting on a train with no stops – you’re not getting off, so you’ve got to just embrace the journey. It’s given me a whole new community and support network. To anyone who’s recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I’d say please don’t panic. The best thing you can do is to learn about diabetes and how to manage it – for me this made all the difference and was the point at which I changed my life for the better. Reach out to your friends, find diabetes support groups – there’s a whole community of people going through the same thing, and you’re not alone in this.
To anyone who’s recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I’d say please don’t panic.
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