Can a T1D truly be 100% "normal"?

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

A person with Type 1 Diabetes will never be able to be 100% normal. Even with all the amazing technology, the pumps, the loop, the CGMs, we still will have to make decisions about carb portions, glucose corrections, physical activity etc. Type 1 diabetics, on average make 180 diabetes-related decisions a day.

I want to highlight this, not because I want someone to feel sorry for Type 1’s, but because it is important to understand and accept that life will not be “normal” for T1Ds and we should stop wishing for it and wasting tears over it. They are a lot more likely to suffer from mental health issues or fall into depression. Diabetes is stressful and requires consistency, regime, attention and care for oneself every day.

Learning to accept and work with your T1D, not against it is the best tool you can have in your management. A Type 1 is strong, a Type 1 has the discipline and organisation that very little people have, Type 1’s are empowering people, Type 1’s can handle so much more than anyone else. Learning to listen to your body helps to feel your highs and lows, understand when you need to pull back and when you need some time to re-set.

Diabetic burnout and depression because of diabetes are real things that can happen. Often, the two do not even have diabetes as the main cause of them, but diabetes acts as the ‘tipping point’. When someone is managing their blood sugars precisely and constantly stays on top of it, they will inevitably be monitoring blood sugars all the time, and checking all the time. They will be doing more corrections just to avoid 8-9 mmol/l blood sugars. It is work, a lot of work and eventually, on a bad day, when nothing seems to work, it will feel awful. That is when it's past the tipping point.

Living with T1D is not easy, but the trick is to accept that you will never be 100% normal. What even is normal? We are all different anyway. A Type 1 or a non-Type 1, we still have things to worry about and decisions to make every day. Learn to accept that Type 1 will always be there, you will have to make those decisions. If you don't, your overall health will be affected and you will suffer. Learn to love the process of carb counting, understanding your body, understanding when you are stressed, understanding insulin.

Become a little scientists and life will be so much more fun. Take every step as an experiment: “Ok, today this did not work. What should I do differently tomorrow?”. Be curious and make it fun.

Another great tip is to take breaks occasionally: a pump holiday, a CGM break. Go back to basics, clear your mind if you are stressed from all the data. This may not be beneficial to everyone, but to some it may help massively, especially if they are over obsessing about their blood sugars (I know I do for sure. Do you? Or do you not?)

Yes, living with Type 1 requires a lot of attention, and a good A1C requires a lot of work, but mental health is just equally important. Stop striving for perfection, you cannot always be correct. Especially with something to agile as diabetes. A bad needle, poor site, a tiny bit of stress, a little bit of extra movement can make a huge impact to your blood sugars. So do not try to control it all. You have insulin, you have your BG meter. Use them to do work your diabetes around your life, not the other way around.

Live a life, do not let diabetes consume you. You are on this planet for a reason, and that reason is not to control your diabetes. Do the best you can, and be mindful of your mental health. Use the tools that are available and smile more. Stop worrying so much about your blood sugars, if you worry all the time about them you will miss out on life. Do not let Type 1 Diabetes become your life, you are so much more than the numbers on your glucose meter.

I hope this blog helps at least someone. If you are suffering, please, speak up! Seek help from your friends, family and medical team. They can truly help! Trust them.

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