T1D & Mental Health

 

This morning while I was watching the Today Show they were talking about Anthony Bourdain. Literally as soon as they ended the segment on him, the petals on one of the flowers in the bouquet on my coffee table fell off. I felt a bit of a shiver run up my arms because to me it was such a sign that something or someone that can be so beautiful and seem so full of life can break down at any moment. You truly never know what’s going on in someone’s mind. When I had returned from the gym the rest of the petals had fallen off. Anthony Bourdain to many people was a man full of exploration and a man who had such a passion for food, life and travel. Yet, clearly he struggled with internal demons that weren’t as obvious to the outside world.

This is something that can be all to familiar for Type 1 Diabetics. Many believe that if you simply take your insulin and eat well then you are managing T1D. This is so far from the truth though. There are so many things that play into Diabetes and if you ask any Type 1 Diabetic that you know, without a doubt they will agree that Diabetes has a mind of it’s own at times. With so much uncertainty, frustration, and stress, Diabetes is a natural recipe for mental health issues. Some of the most common mental health issues that we as type one diabetics face are anxiety, depression, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), panic disorder….the list really goes on and on.

Now, let me just give you a little background on my own experience with T1D and mental health. For those of you that don’t know, I was diagnosed when I was 10 years old, I went to the doctor for what was believed to be a yeast infection – strange for a 10 year old. My doctor took a urine sample, found what I believe was ketones in my urine, and sent me to the hospital to have my blood drawn. A couple hours later that same day, I was playing at my house with one of my best friends, Kendra, and my mom and dad got a call from my doctor. He told them I had Type One Diabetes. I remember my parents sort of sat me down and told me and I was just sorta like….okay? Can I go back and play now…lol. I had no idea what these words meant and I had no idea how this would change my life drastically. I remember when I was probably 11 or 12 my mom had me see a therapist to talk about my diabetes. I went for maybe 3 or 4 sessions until I was just like, “mom, do I have to keep going to this? All we do is play with puppets.” 😂 I’m not sure how I got so lucky, most days I thank God for this, but I really was pretty well adjusted and I honestly never really let Diabetes get to me down that often. I truly thank my parents for this because they treated me like I was any other average kid. They took care of me and helped me learn how to take care of myself, but they never let diabetes stop me or hold me back from doing whatever I desired. I went to camps when I was younger, still had sleep overs at friends houses, I traveled to China with my freshman class at age 14, and even lived abroad my senior year of college. I was a “normal” child (and now adult) in my own eyes.

Even though I lived a pretty normal life, I won’t lie to you and tell you I never experienced any of these mental health issues though. I had my share of depressive periods and to be honest I feel like NO diabetic lives without anxiety – I mean, how can you not? We literally make life or death decisions every. single. day. BUT, I will say that even when I did get into these moods where I was feeling down or discouraged because of my diabetes, I never let it control my thoughts completely. Again, I sincerely thank my parents for this because (SOMEHOW, lol JK guys love you) they managed to raise a pretty well adjusted Type One Diabetic daughter. But again, I’m not perfect and I still have days where I just want to give up. But I don’t. And I never will. And just to clarify I mean give up this full time job of managing my diabetes, not my life. I sometimes get sad or anxious thinking about my wedding day and realizing that even on one of the biggest days of my life I won’t get a break managing this disease to marry my best friend. But then I remember the support system I have. I remember my amazing husband to be and how he cares about me and always wants me to try my best. I remember my amazing parents who support me in every new insulin pump I try or blog post I write. I remember my older sister who sticks up for me on the daily and reminds people of the struggles I go through with this silent illness. Without these people, and so many more in my life, I would likely not be able to handle this disease. They say it takes a village, and I honestly believe this is true for Type One Diabetes. If you are trying to manage this disease on your own or you don’t have people in your life that support you and encourage you to keep going and keep pushing through the struggles, please message me. Email me (emacmill1230@gmail.com), If you’d rather text I will send you my phone number, DM me on Instagram (@thebeautyintypeone), poke me on Facebook (the beauty in type one) – do people still do this? Lol…For real though. My point is just reach out to me. I wanted to make this post because I GET IT. I know what you are going through and I know how hard it can be. Don’t beat yourself up when you have days where your numbers look like a rollercoaster. We ALL have those days no matter what we post on social media – we tend to always put our best foot forward here, I am guilty of it too. After the recent passings of Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and so many other amazing souls I always wonder whether they had someone to talk to? Did they have people in their lives that made an effort to reach out to them when they were struggling? Sometimes they did have this people but their mind was much stronger at controlling their thoughts than even someone they loved could have imagined or helped them through. Even though these conversations are never easy, they should NEVER be avoided. Though the suicide prevention hotlines are amazing and can help a lot of people, I never want to be the type of person to just put that out there. To me sometimes it feels like, “I want you to help yourself, but I’m not going to do it so please call this number.” We as a society need to be able to reach out to those that we care about and love. And for me personally I want to extend a hand to even those that I don’t know well or maybe even at all. I feel so strongly that I want you to know you’re not alone. Whether your Type One Diabetic or not, if you are struggling please reach out to me or to someone you love and trust. I promise you this world would be a lot less bright without you in it. 💕

XoXo

Em

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