4 Things Type 1 Diabetics Have to Watch Out For

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Diabetes is a hard diagnosis to swallow at any age. I was diagnosed at age two, so I don’t know what “normal” people feel like.

I’ve always thought that the younger you’re diagnosed, the more likely you are to remain stable with your condition. Less likely to lash out about it or stop taking care of yourself.

The teenage years are the worst years to be diagnosed.

Kids go from normal lives to lives full of finger pricks, insulin injections, mood swings, and blood sugar levels that are absolutely affected by puberty hormones.

And not in a good way.

I think that more teenage diabetics than any other group will go through things like diabulimia, burnout, depression, and anger.

Let’s go through those.

Diabulimia

Not taking your insulin in order to lose weight.

It’s scary, lethal, unhealthy for SO many reasons, but many kids do it.

Because insulin is pretty much a hunger hormone, once newly-diagnosed diabetics start insulin, their weight usually climbs a bit.

If you’re a teenager and already have body-image issues?

Well then. Here’s some insulin to help make that worse.

I’ve never gone through this, so I feel lucky in that respect. But diabulimia is a very real problem for teenage type 1’s because of things like body image, social pressure, and self-esteem.

Burnout

Later-diagnosed diabetics who remember what it was like before diabetes get so tired of dealing with the daily battle against blood sugar, and so they just…give up.

They stop taking care of themselves.

Stop checking their blood sugars, stop taking insulin for every meal, stop going to the endocrinologist for regular check ins.

It’s hard to take care of diabetes.

I know.

I’ve had it for 23 years.

But there’s a saying that you have to choose your hard. It’s hard to take care of, but it’s also hard to be sick or damaged because of poor control.

Damaged = nerve damage, retinopathy, glaucoma, amputations, and basically all the things your grandma’s best friend’s sister keeps talking about.

Depression

Depression in diabetics is a different flavor.

Wondering, “why did this happen to me?” Feeling self-hatred for your body having decided to attack its own pancreas. Like, what did you do to deserve that?

(Answer: nothing.)

Depressed diabetics are very likely to also experience burnout, and vice versa.

Anger

I’ve gotten angry about my diabetes.

It’s really dumb.

Anger towards these:

  • insurance companies
  • incompetent doctors
  • bad teaching
  • malfunctioning insulin pumps
  • bottles of insulin that have gone bad
  • kinked infusion sites
  • painful insertions of both sites and sensors
  • malfunctioning sensors
  • too few prescribed test strips
  • insurance rules
  • forced insulin changes
  • high blood sugars
  • low blood sugars
  • judgey people
  • diabetes jokes
  • diabetes “know-it-alls”
  • people telling me what I can or can’t eat
  • people asking “are you sure you can eat that?”

It gets exhausting.

Anger is exhausting. Diabetes is exhausting. Together, sometimes I feel totally wiped out because of a bad day.

And I’m not alone in this.

These are just four things related to mental health that type 1 diabetics experience. It’s not exhaustive. It’s not complete. But it’s a taste of what we go through.