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“I developed a lot of anxiety and started having panic attacks but I thought it was just a side effect of my diabetes.”

Charlotte and family

After being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, Charlotte’s anxiety meant she couldn’t leave the house. But after speaking with her diabetes specialist nurse (DSN) and using our website for useful resources, she's now got her life back. 

Charlotte Thomas
Aged 28
Living with Type 1 diabetes since 2015

“I now realise that I’m not Charlotte with diabetes, I’m Charlotte and diabetes is in the background.”

Charlotte's journey with diabetes

•    Was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2015
•    Found it difficult to come to terms with her diagnosis and developed anxiety
•    Started having panic attacks and wouldn’t leave the house
•    Eventually told her DSN and used our website for support
•    Has overcome her anxiety and is living her life to the full

Emotional wellbeing

When I was 24 years old I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and my world came crashing down. I hadn’t been feeling well and had been drinking a lot of water and losing weight. My mum is a nurse and said I needed to go and see a doctor but I thought it was just another urine infection. On May 1st 2015 they told me I had Type 1 diabetes. I said ‘you’re telling me lies, I’m not an overweight person’. I wanted another opinion. 

I found it very difficult to come to terms with the diagnosis, I was in complete shock and devastation. My main concern was my health and what everybody else was going to think.

Then the anxiety started. At the start I had hypos all the time - it made me feel out of control. Because of this, I developed a lot of anxiety and started having panic attacks but I thought it was just a side effect of my diabetes. I would be at my desk at work and would suddenly have a ‘whoosh’ come over me. I was embarrassed and felt so out of control. It was taking over my life. 

I eventually decided to reach out to my DSN about it. I’m usually quite shy and don’t like opening up about things so it was a big moment for me. She had a lot of knowledge and reassured me that it was common to have some anxiety when you are adapting to living with diabetes. We spoke on the phone a lot and without her help, I would have never got through it. She’s the best nurse ever - everybody should have a Nicola in their life.

Friends and family

When I was first diagnosed I went straight home and asked my partner if he was going to leave me now that I had diabetes as I didn’t want to bring anyone down with me. 

Everyone said ‘you’ve brought this on yourself’ because I enjoyed cake. I thought this too at the time as I didn’t understand what having Type 1 diabetes really meant. I thought my life was over. The nurse told me I had to take insulin to manage my diabetes and I said to her ‘I would rather die than take insulin’. I was terrified of needles. 

My family and partner became very worried about me and I fell into what I can only describe as a black hole. At my lowest point I wouldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t even take the dogs for a walk. My partner had to go without me.

"During this time I thought that my world was ending and I couldn’t see how it was going to get any better." 

Finding out I was pregnant was another turning point and, since then, everything I do is for my son Izaac. 

Active living 

In my head I thought I had to exercise more but with the anxiety, I stopped exercising for a year and a half. Now I am cycling and feeling a lot happier. It feels as though I have forgotten that I have diabetes and it’s in the background.

Biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was trying to manage a normal life whilst having diabetes and trying to find that balance. Thankfully with support from my DSN and learning how to control my anxiety, I can’t remember the last time I had a panic attack. My only worry when I leave the house now is deciding what to wear.

Useful resources

My DSN recommended the Diabetes UK website to me and I found the pages really helpful. It helped me to understand what Type 1 diabetes really was and how to manage it correctly. It was also nice to read stories of other people who were going through a similar situation to me. I started to understand that it wasn’t my fault and I hadn’t brought it on myself.

What I wish I knew when I was first diagnosed

I wish that someone had sat with me and explained properly what Type 1 diabetes was. I couldn’t see a way out at first. You need to speak with someone that has diabetes and get their view.

Charlotte's perspective

My advice for anyone feeling anxious because of their diabetes is to not bottle it up. Younger people tend to think that it is nothing and that it will just go away. But if I can do it, then anyone can do it.

"I now realise that I’m not Charlotte with diabetes, I’m Charlotte and diabetes is in the background. And once you accept that, that’s when you know you’ve got this." 

 

 

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