Most people don’t know much about type 1 diabetes. Much of what the average person knows comes from the general coverage of diabetes by the mainstream media who, for some reason, don’t see the need to be specific between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Because of this, most people don’t know that one of the serious side issues affecting many people with type 1 diabetes is depression and mental illness.
I’m not going to pretend to know why depression, and sadly suicide, affect the type 1 diabetes community more than the general community, but the figures don’t lie. A person living with type 1 diabetes is more likely to suffer from some sort of mental illness than a person not living with type 1 diabetes.
But let’s try for a minute to see if we can maybe understand. Let’s try standing in the shoes of a person with type 1 diabetes for a few moments. That’s not very difficult for me as I’ve been living with type 1 diabetes for 40 years.
Firstly there is the reality of living with this all encompassing illness for every minute of every day for the rest of your life. Type 1 diabetes never lets you forget that it never has a day off. Try getting complacent for even a few moments and you run the risk of waking up in hospital.
Is that enough to get depressed about? Maybe, maybe not. Try adding to that the ever-present knowledge that if you don’t remain vigilant and keep your blood sugar levels within an acceptable range, you might go blind and/or have kidney failure and/or suffer brain damage and/or lose a toe or a foot or a leg.
No, still not enough?
OK, what about the constant inference given by the ever-present media that “diabetes” is a disease associated with poor life style choices, so we must be guilty of bringing this illness on ourselves? When this is the message being surreptitiously presented through the media, do you think that might be enough to guide someone to a dark place in their mind?
Type 1 diabetes can affect anyone at any time. It has nothing at all to do with life style choices, or poor diet or lack of exercise. One of the very real and avoidable side issues is mental illness and yet we are still told, even in 2014, that it’s our own fault, by a media who could so easily help, rather than make it just that much harder to live with this overwhelming illness.