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Emotions

Diabetes doesn’t just affect you physically, it can affect you emotionally too. With so much to think about, you may sometimes feel overwhelmed. But our stories show whatever you're feeling you're not alone — and what may help. 

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AndieJanuary 2021

Removing stigma

A huge thing for me is that I don’t see my diabetes as an illness, but rather a condition that I have to manage (which I had initially been ill from). I’ve got a few other conditions too, and the fact Learning Zone has given me simple, straightforward and easy-to-understand information I can build into my day-to-day life has made such a huge difference in making my life more manageable, and enjoyable. 

I once worked with someone who lost his foot due to type 2 diabetes complications. I don’t think he ever really came to terms with his diagnosis and the lifestyle changes he’d have to make to manage it. I think for certain groups of people — for example perhaps older men, who have maybe not grown up feeling comfortable to feel through or talk about their vulnerabilities. Being able to see videos of people like you talking openly about their diagnosis, and normalising type 2 diabetes rather than it being something you have to be ashamed of — would make such a huge difference to accepting and being able to live better with their diabetes.

If sharing my experience helps someone understand there are tools out there that can help them feel a little less scared, anxious, or overwhelmed - I am very happy.

Read Andie's complete story
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JonDiagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged 5

How diabetes has impacted my life emotionally 

People don't necessarily realise the impact that being diabetic can have on you and the number of extra decisions you have to make each day.
Even a simple cup of coffee, when you're having milk in it, changes from if you're having a flat white or cappuccino. You have to think: “Right, what size is it? How many carbohydrates am I going to have? What's going to happen now? Have I given myself my insulin early enough?”

The Diabetes Football Community has been an incredible support. It was set up by a guy called Chris Bright. I saw something on social media and I met him in a café in Worcester. Before I knew it there was a big list of things I’d agreed to be involved in. We're all living with type 1 diabetes, with a range of different experiences. We all advise and support each other and you can ask all sorts of questions. And it’s great for me to learn from some of the people who have been newly diagnosed too.

Just knowing that you're not alone in it and there's hundreds of people going through the same thing helps. The diabetic football community is tight knit - if you are struggling with diabetes, it is just simple; tap out a message, send it there, and the support that comes back in is absolutely incredible and so powerful.

I was lucky enough to go away to Ukraine a couple of years ago to play over there with a group of other diabetics. I knew that it might be a struggle as it was my first time away from the family – my youngest was only six months old. I spoke to one of the other older guys who's got two kids, and we decided to look out for each other, which was great. We both got to know each other's families. 

Positives of diabetes 

My advice to other people would be: It’s going to be all right. It might be a pain in the backside but it opens up so many other opportunities. I wouldn’t have been involved in the diabetes football community or gone to Ukraine with them. I wouldn’t be able to do this interview and use it as a chance to inspire others. 

If someone else sees you can actually live a normal life if you’re living with diabetes, you’re going to help that person.

Read Jon's complete story
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Kaajal Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 5.

Managing emotions

I think diabetes first started to affect me emotionally when I went to school. I couldn't go to friends' parties. When I did go to them, I had to take my own sandwiches and snacks. 

I remember one party where the kids laughed at me and just looked at me funny - why is she coming in with sandwiches? I think that affected me as I grew up. I thought that there was something different about me.

This made me feel out of place, maybe slightly inadequate, or unwelcomed. And that just made me try and push myself more in life to say, “well, there isn't anything wrong with me.” I tried to live a full life after that.

When I got to 17 or 18, I was exercising quite a lot, eating less, trying to be a certain size and I ended up having such low sugars. From then onwards, I said, “I need to eat.”

Questions 

When I started dating, my ex-boyfriend's family asked if I could have children. It had never crossed my mind that that would even be a problem. I've always just done what the doctors have told me is medically correct. The rest of the world started questioning me too, saying, “Can you do this? Can you do that?” That made me question myself, but I never let it affect me in any way.

I want other young people living with diabetes to know that there's nothing wrong with you and that it’s not the end of your life.

"I am now in the best place possible because of the experiences I’ve had as a result of what I’ve been through. Just because you live with diabetes, doesn’t mean you should feel unwelcome or out of place in any situation!” 

If I didn’t have diabetes, I wouldn't have the good habits that I have today, like exercise and eating well. So I’d tell other young people to just live life fully.

Read Kaajal 's complete story
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Diagnosed with type 2 after having gestational diabetes

Keeping things normal

I was quite surprised about how difficult diabetes was to manage, especially as blood sugars change on a daily basis. My diet might not have changed and the amount of insulin I've given myself hasn't changed but sometimes it’s still really hard to stabilise. I think unless your nurses have got diabetes too, they don’t always appreciate how hard that is sometimes. 

People are quite often surprised when they hear I’ve got diabetes. They might not necessarily understand what it involves. I’m confident when talking about it to other people but I do play down how much it affects me. I try to sort of hide it so that they don't worry. 

The advice I’d want to give myself looking back is that it’s not my fault. It's my body telling me that it needs that little bit of extra support. I try to live life as normally as possible and carry on enjoying everything that I do. I know my diabetes is there, but I try to carry on with life as normally as possible. 

Read 's complete story
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LibbyDiagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 3.

Managing our emotions

Mike

It’s really emotional for us and still is. It’s been 18 months and it’s still quite fresh for us.

Jayne

Libby was coming to an age where she was becoming really independent, and she was quite old headed anyway. I would be happy for her to go to the fridge and help herself to a snack but now I don’t feel like she can do that. I felt like her independence was taken away a bit.

I was so excited about Libby starting school but then that changed. I couldn’t just drop her off at school, I was worried about leaving her with anyone. There was no option of breakfast club and after school clubs, as nobody would be trained to look after her.

When Libby started school, I couldn’t go and meet the staff in advance, due to Covid. On her first day I had to go in an hour early with her and talk to her teachers. She had to listen to worst-case scenarios, which I really didn’t like.

She really wanted school dinners, but they had no idea how they were going to calculate the carbs. But her reception teacher has been amazing and made me feel at ease. Libby loves school and feel safe with them and they look after her.

Read Libby's complete story
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