Diagnosed when she was just 14 months old, Emily admits that she has experienced her fair share of ups and downs since taking control of her own diabetes management during her teens.
“I’ve experienced periods of anxiousness,” she says.
“I think it’s quite natural after you’ve had type 1 for over 20 years, everything can get to you – the constant management, the constant metrics of how you’re going is quite hard when you’re a perfectionist, and I found that has caused a lot of anxiety in my life.”
The focus of this year’s National Diabetes Week is Mental Wellbeing, and Diabetes WA wants to recognise the mental, emotional and psychological struggles that people living with diabetes may face
For many people living with diabetes, experiencing diabetes distress is a common occurrence.
Diabetes distress is the emotional burden of living with and managing diabetes.
It can lead a person to feel overwhelmed by the constant demands of their diabetes and concerned that they are failing with their management.
“Given that living with diabetes can be unpredictable from one day to the next, diabetes distress can also cause frustration over the inability to control what’s happening and can also lead to feelings of guilt when management falls off course,” Says Diabetes WA’s General Manager Health Services, Deb Schofield.
Having experienced periods of diabetes distress throughout her life, Emily is familiar with the early signs and knows when she needs to seek help.
“I’ve been trained on the classic signs of diabetes burnout, so I was able to recognise it pretty easy,” she says.
“I could just tell when I was getting sick of having to count my carbs, do temporary basal (rates) for exercise, that kind of thing. So I knew it was time to reach out for help.”
Emily says her first port of call to seek help was to speak to someone close to her about how she was feeling.
“When I first noticed I was having diabetes distress, I spoke to my parents and I explained how I was feeling and they suggested I go and talk to my doctor about it,” she recalls.
“So the doctor referred me to a psychologist and I was able to access a diabetes specialist psychologist through the hospital, which was really helpful.”
Emily also turns to exercise to help cope with diabetes distress.
“I also find exercise really helps to get a lot of frustration out which is very common with diabetes.
“Talking, moving my body and being kind to myself – so if I’m not hard on myself about my diabetes, I find that I don’t get burnt out so easy and the cycle doesn’t repeat.”
“If you think you may be experiencing diabetes distress, reach out to your diabetes healthcare team, or you can speak to a Credentialled Diabetes Educator on the Diabetes WA Helpline by calling 1300 001 880, “ says Deb Schofield, Diabetes WA Health Services General Manager.