Dealing with diabetes is hard work, I should know.

I wasn’t exactly born with diabetes. It surfaced when I hit puberty, about 10 years old; the bodily changes triggered it to come alive. To attempt to explain the strange feelings I experienced at the time is difficult. To live one lifestyle and then be forced to change it due to something out of my control was beyond challenging.

We noticed there was something wrong when I began to drink ridiculous amounts of water. Initially my mum was thrilled until she realised this was just way too out of character (I hardly ever drank water before.) I think at that point she suspected, but she didn’t tell me. I guess she didn’t want me to worry. At the hospital, the doctors confirmed what she’d presumed.

I remember feeling dazed when they tried to explain it all to me… I had a blank face with unsynchronised thoughts followed by an overwhelming sense of panic.

That night I stayed in the hospital, my mother by my side, I drifted into a dream where this day hadn’t happened. I was outside roaming the woods and climbing trees, happy and free…and then I felt a sharp pain in my leg. I thought I must have cut myself on a branch, but the pain felt so real. I remember being awoken by needles in the middle of the night and waking up to bruises in the morning, marks to constantly remind me.

I felt helpless and confused as to why this was happening to me. I was very down and disheartened at the time. I cried a lot. I suddenly felt different, I wasn’t like everyone else. The teachers made such a fuss over me at school, I was constantly asked if I was okay and the attention embarrassed me, I just wanted to ‘be normal’ again.

My mood and physical performance drastically changed, for the worst. Regardless of the stereotypical teen ‘moody attitude’, I felt it more so. Managing my blood sugars was something I struggled with. It ran high majority of the time which made me feel sleepy and frustrated. A normal reading of the average person is 6, my readings exceeded the capabilities of the machine where it couldn’t even show a number. Going low was just as bad, if not worse. When readings drop below 4, my brain loses capacity to control my body, I feel weak and immobile, with the potential of passing out.

I used to hate talking about it because it made it more real…but this is real, this is my life and ignoring it won’t make it go away. I was scared to be treated different, but I am different. I find now that talking about it relieves the pressure of keeping it in, and all people want to do is support you so you feel good about yourself.

11 years down the line and where I can’t say I’ve completely accepted it, I get a little closer every day. My life style has changed, yes. But for all the finger pricks, insulin injections and diet changes, I am still able to do everything I want to do, I just have to work harder for it. I still play basketball, I graduated from Uni and I have a job I love. Having a positive mentality is hard, but talking to someone about it and looking after yourself is the best way to overcome any negative thoughts of ‘why me?.’

Mental health is something we all have. An important part of our well-being that relates to how we feel about ourselves, our experiences and the world around us. It’s something that can be damaged like any part of us and needs to be looked after. Talking to someone about it helps relieve those overwhelming feelings we might experience. Young Devon provide a great counselling service where you can talk to someone in person or Kooth offer an online service if you don’t want to talk face to face. Sometimes we just need a little support, don’t be afraid to take it.