Mental health and diabetes
I’ve always felt there was very little emotional support for people with diabetes. I even wrote to Vaughan Gething, the Minister for Health and Social Services, to ask for his help. I have been diagnosed with mild depression, which stemmed from the problems I’ve had with my eyes, as well as high diabetes distress.
When the lockdown began, it took me back to the days when I was stuck in the house because of my retinopathy, and was too frightened to go out. Since coronavirus, I can feel my anxiety levels rising every time I go to the shops. I worry about whether people have washed their hands and I’m always aware of how close they are to me. I’m better in larger supermarkets but smaller shops, like the one around the corner from my house, I’ve struggled with more. It’s the same if I go and queue to collect my prescription at the pharmacy.
I’ve found that people can be quite judgemental. If I go to the shops then I’ll go with my husband. One day I heard someone say, “Why does it take two people to shop?” I wanted to turn around and explain that what’s wrong with me you can’t see and there was a reason I wasn’t shopping alone.
I was also concerned there would be delays to my next eye appointment. I hadn’t been seen since December and was worried I would end up going a year without being checked by the specialist. I was left too long by the hospital before and that’s how my retinopathy started. However, due to the severity of the problems I’ve had with my eyes, I got to see my doctor and there has been no new growth. So that was a relief, as it had really been adding to my anxiety.
Staying emotionally well during the coronavirus pandemic
I was determined that I didn’t want to take 20 steps backwards and return to the place I was in when my retinopathy was bad, so I decided to put things in place to help me manage my anxiety during this stressful time.
I make sure I’m connecting with my family and friends all the time and FaceTime has been a great way to do this. If you know your friend is sat at home with her kids then then there’s no excuse why you can’t give her a call for 10 minutes – you’ve got to keep up that contact.
Although social media can have its downsides, I follow a lot of type 1 groups and pages, and if you’re struggling you can post something online. If people say something negative they get shot down quickly, and I find there are so many people who will say nice things. I think you need to drill it into your mind that you can’t control what other people post and what their opinions are, so skim past the negative. My wedding was days before lockdown, so I’ve been posting loads of my wedding photos up on Facebook, which should be something nice for people to see on their feeds.
I’ve been trying to keep active, so I’ve been doing the Joe Wicks workouts every other day. I thought I was a spritely eight year old but I hurt for days afterwards, so I needed to ease in gradually – and I have to be careful with bending because of my eyes.