In November 2006, my boyfriend was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, at the age of 28. Pre-Diagnosis, he was very very fit and healthy, ate the right things, and led a healthy lifestyle (you could say, he is the most unlikely candidate for diabetes), however Type 1 is not associated with weight.
He has maintained his healthy lifestyle and eating habits, however he (and myself) had a very difficult time immediately after being diagnosed.
Because he is in a healthy weight range and eats the right things, it made him question as to why such a healthy man like him should get such a major health problem. At the start, he kept repeating to himself how he wished he was overweight, then there would be a reason for it. However, there was no reason for it, and the doctors just said that ‘these things happen’.
Because of these factors, he was fairly depressed about a month after diagnosis. This was really difficult for not only him, but me as well, as I wasn’t entirely sure what to say!! I quickly hopped onto the internet and looked up all the information I could on diabetes and diabetes management. I learnt quickly about exactly what diabetes is, and what needs to be done. It was really worthwile that I researched it, as I am now more informed as to how to help him deal with it, and what to do to help him. Also, he really appreciated my research into it, because it made him feel like there was someone else there that knew what it was, what it does etc.
During this depressive stage post diagnosis, he continued to inject and test when necessary. Which is very good, because I regularly hear of people who don’t manage their condition immediately after diagnosis, because of denial, depression etc. He however, looked after himself physically, although mentally, he still asked ‘why?’…
This question is hard to answer, because I don’t know why either.
Sometimes all I could do is hold his hand, or give him a hug. Words were nonsense sometimes, especially when I might say the wrong thing. Around New Years 2007, he became really depressive, and was talking of suicide. I’m still not sure if this was an attention thing, or if it was a genuine cry for help.
So, I hopped on the net again, and looked for information about diabetes and depression and their links, and what I could do to help him. I discovered some information about good things to say, who to call, and what to tell him about what to do. I gave him information about depression helplines and diabetes support networks, but he didn’t use those resources.
Basically, what I did was listen to him when he wanted to talk, hold his hand when he was upset, and support him by just being there. It was difficult to work out exactly what to say. Maybe I overloaded him with information, but I think it was better than nothing! At least he knew that I care. He eventually became better and better at managing his diabetes, nowadays he only needs to take 2 units of insulin per injection. At the beginning, based on his height and weight, the doctors recommended 6!
He’s become more positive and optimistic about the future as time has progressed, and I have realised that the initial stages of dealing with such a life-changing condition, of course will be difficult. What began as negative and suicidal thoughts about life, has become a much more positive outlook on life. He is in a much much better mindspace than a few months ago, and is also managing his diabetes very very well. Sometimes, not having to take insulin at all at meals!!
He has been very strong, and in a way, a role-model for other diabetics. Although he went through a really bad time at the beginning of the year (and very difficult for me, I would worry so much about him when I wasn’t with him), nowadays he is fantastic of keeping control of his life, in terms of his health and diabetes management. Although we have since broken up, we are still good friends, and I still care for him greatly. I am sure he appreciated all his support from friends and family.
I hope this can help other people who know someone with Type 1 Diabetes – whether it be family, partners, or a friend. Sometimes, all you need to do is be there for them, and words are sometimes not necessary. If you do know someone that has diabetes, it is a great idea to research the condition and what you can do to help, there are many great resources out there, including this site. They will appreciate it and feel less alone, if someone else has a good idea of what is going on with their health.