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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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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. 

Tara Lawrence

Tara LawrenceDiagnosed with MODY 3 diabetes 10 years ago

Staying mentally well during the pandemic

Mental health has been a really big focus for me in the last year, especially after my daughter was born. She was born two weeks before the second lockdown, so her first three or four months were spent at home. We weren’t able to do much because of the weather and everything being closed. 

This also meant not being able to have family come over and help us out. I couldn’t have friends pop over, I couldn’t go to other people’s houses, so I think my mental health definitely took a dip, having to be home all the time on top of the massive adjustment of having a baby. 

But now things have opened up, it’s definitely helped improve the way I can cope with everyday challenges.

My husband has been my biggest support, he’s been absolutely amazing over the last year. He’s coped with massive hypos and highs and all the emotions and fears that come with these in terms of how they might affect the baby. And then after our daughter was born he was a massive help for my mental health. He made sure I got the support and treatment I needed whilst looking after a brand new baby after a c-section. 

And because I’ve got MODY 3 diabetes, there’s a 50% chance of my children having the genetic mutation that means that they’ll develop MODY 3 diabetes themselves in the future. We found out about a month ago that my daughter does have that genetic mutation, so we’ve had to support each other with this. Just knowing that one day she will receive the same diagnosis I had is a lot to deal with in the first six months. 

Read Tara Lawrence's complete story
Liz crouches on the floor holding some heavy looking weights

Liz CromwellDiagnosed with gestational diabetes in 2009

Living with diabetes and depression

Food can be really hard to understand. For me, it was comforting. Growing up in Jamaica, I was used to eating big portions of stodgy foods, like rice and peas, fried chicken, and plantain. When you are used to eating the same foods for years, it’s not easy to change. But because of my eating habits, my diabetes got worse.

After my daughter was born, my diabetes didn’t go away. I put on more weight, and people would ask me if I was pregnant again. Comments like that reminded me of all the trauma I’d been through. When that happened, I’d comfort myself with food.

I would take my kids to our local athletics track five times a week. While they were training, I used to watch them from the stand, binging on crisps, chocolate bars and cola. 

Read Liz Cromwell's complete story
Bupe laughing

BupeDiagnosed with type 2 during the Covid-19 pandemic

Being diagnosed was my wake-up call

When the nurse called me a day later saying that the doctor wanted to see me to discuss the results I knew that something wasn’t right and I was a bit scared about it. When I talked to the doctor she said that I had an early diagnosis of diabetes which explained the way I had been feeling. She gave me a lot of information about diet and exercise but it was all things I already knew. 

I already knew I should have been more active. I was constantly sitting down for 6-7 hours a day at work, then I’d come home, prepare dinner and then I’d sit down again working on my assignments and dissertation. This had been my life for the two years I was studying my MSc. And it was now taking a toll on me. 

The conversation with the doctor was a wake-up call for me. As I was leaving the clinic she also said that I had to start taking some medication to bring my blood pressure down. This was something that scared me as well because I had never had any issue with my blood pressure even throughout my two pregnancies. 

I have a family history of people suffering from both high blood pressure and diabetes so to hear these things was an alarm bell to me. 

Read Bupe's complete story
Steve smiling in his One Million Steps T-shirt

Steve HodgsonDiagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2016

Coming to terms with my feelings

It wasn’t until I had a medical review at work that something shifted. I came clean about how difficult I was finding it to look after my health, and how I felt that until I got my head in the right place, my habits were never going to change. Work were great and I got referred to a counsellor.

That was a huge step for me, I remember sitting in my car, willing myself to make an appointment. The whole thing was way outside my comfort zone. But it was one of the best things I ever did.

In 6 sessions I learnt to get over the denial and really tackle the whole thing. I realised the importance of mental health in sorting out your physical health. And I also saw that I was being too hard on myself. I was aiming to be ‘perfect’ when really, I just needed my choices to be ‘better’.

Read Steve Hodgson's complete story
A young child in a high-chair eating food

MosheMoshe was 11 months old when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Adjusting to the new reality

I don’t think anyone can ever prepare themselves for a type 1 diagnosis. I wasn’t immediately emotionally overwhelmed. But knowing you’ve now got a child with a lifelong condition is really horrid. It was difficult to come to terms with the fact that this was something that’s forever.

At the beginning, we were trying to take it day by day. We had to readjust what we’d previously defined as ‘ok’ expectations of life. Type 1 diabetes was now our reality and we had to do everything we could to keep our child healthy and well. But some days could be quite dark.

As time went on, I struggled with the lack of sleep. There was absolutely no break. The management of the condition is relentless.

When you have a tiny child with type 1 and you’re dealing with the nuances of the amounts of food and insulin they need, there’s just never a break.

As a parent, you’re having to manage the condition, day in and day out, night in and night out, while also trying to hold everything else together in a family and bring in an income and look after yourself, too.

Read Moshe's complete story
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