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Diabetes Does Not Mean You Are Unhealthy

Throughout childhood I was obsessed with sports, any kind of sports. My favourite was cricket and I eventually made it onto the age 10-11 girls’ cricket team for Lancashire county. After a ‘Future sports therapist” course in college, I started to doubt whether I wanted to go ahead and do physiology in University. Instead, I chose a Biology degree so that if I wanted to go onto physiology afterwards I always could.

Everyone knows going to university brings the temptation of bad habits such as drinking and smoking, which I unfortunately fell for. My hobby for sports slowly became distant due to this, and I became VERY unhealthy.

Luckily, I quit all my bad habits at the start of my third year, as it was making my mental health worse, my skin worse and I had also gained two stone!  I focused more on my nutrition and exercise for the next couple of months. Obviously, I started to lose weight. I started to slowly drink more and more water over time, which I thought was all normal and healthy because of my switch in lifestyle. However, I did start to need the bathroom more frequently, waking up multiple times in the night, also feeling more tired in the daytime (and had a battle with re-occurring thrush for a while). Eventually, I was drinking over 6 litres of water a day, eating 3000 calories whilst losing 2 pound a day, and falling asleep at 7 o’clock even though I woke up around 12 daytime. I began to struggle with anxiety, my heart beating fast and when I looked out of my window, I couldn’t focus on anything.

I moved back home for Christmas, and my mum suddenly became very worried about me when she saw me. To be honest, I did look very unwell but because this all happened so slowly, I had become accustomed to the way I looked. I booked a blood test on January the 27th, on a Wednesday. By the Friday the doctor rang me and sent me straight to hospital, with ketones of 5.8 and sugars over 30 mmols/L (540.0 mg/dL). I had Type 1 diabetes.

This took a huge toll on my mental health. I thought I was unhealthy and that this condition would ruin my life. One million thoughts went through my head per day, and it quickly became a huge stress to eat and take insulin due to this. I ran up to my bedroom whenever my blood sugars were changing, and I stopped going out of the house.

One day I decided to work out, as I had been working out twice a week pre diagnosis and I wanted to feel like the person I was before. I had done my research on how resistance training affects your blood sugars and heard people can shoot up, and then crash, which freaked me out, but my sugars were fine! This gave me incredible confidence and made me feel like I had accomplished something. It completely turned my mentality round.

Before you know it, I was completely engrossed in my fitness again, and it made me think… did I become Type 1 diabetic for a reason? It seemed to be at a perfect time, considering I am now nearly finishing my Biology degree and I now know I want to continue my physiology/ sports and exercise education and eventually career. It has given me a purpose no matter how challenging it may be. And now I don’t see being a Type 1 diabetic as restricting or debilitating. I eat wholegrain/wholewheat foods, plenty of veg and fruit, and have a huge passion for exercise. I honestly think I am now healthier than before I was diagnosed (even if it may not be true ha-ha). It’s strange to think a chronic illness has given me the most positive mindset I have ever had, and its grounded me to my roots and what I enjoy the most!

I am so glad that I was the person in my family to first deal with the condition, and hopefully the only one to have to deal with the condition. I was already interested in biology, so having diabetes has made it a personal hobby which I can use in my career when I get older, to potentially help people who have diabetes with starting exercise again as I have been though the fears and “what if’s” first-hand.

I actually LOVE going to the gym and showing off my diabetes tech! it makes me unique and shows how strong I am to control my blood sugars manually without hiding away from the world as I once did.

In conclusion,

There are always positives to every story, you just have to pick them out and focus on them more than anything else. The negatives are still there and that’s where the diabetes community comes in to help, because there are so many supportive people that have been in the same position! Don’t go through anything alone, even if you feel like talking about your condition could be ‘getting on people’s nerves’. Diabetic people are the strongest people I have ever met, and we need to embrace that and allow it to empower us!

Milly Williams @diabeteswithmilly
Hello! My name is Milly and I’m a newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetic. I am 20 years old and currently finishing my final year of Molecular and Cellular Biology Bachelor’s degree. My HBA1C was 128 mmols/mol (13.9 %) 3 months ago and now it is 48 mmols/mol (6.5 %). I have the Freestyle Libre 2 and I’m currently on the Dexcom G6 trial too.

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