Diabetes Mellitus (commonly known as Sugar) is a metabolic disorder characterized by higher-than-normal blood glucose level. It results from defects in insulin secretion, insulin inaction or both.
There are two main types of Diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. In this article, I’m specifically going to talk about Type 1 Diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes (formerly known as insulin-dependent diabetes) is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone which travels in bloodstream and signals the cells to absorb glucose from the blood. Glucose provides energy to the body. Without insulin, the glucose level in blood rises as the bodily cells do not absorb it. This leads to disorder, damage and less energy levels in the body.
Since Type 1 diabetes is commonly diagnosed between ages 10 and 16, it is also known as juvenile diabetes. About 5% of people with diabetes have Type 1 and it equally affects males and females. Its symptoms include extreme thirst, increased hunger (especially after eating), dry mouth, frequent urination, fatigue, crankiness or mood changes etc.
Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease. Its treatment requires insulin injections two to four times per day with strict regulation of insulin level and diet. In order to properly regulate insulin level, people with type 1 diabetes need to monitor their blood sugar levels several times per day. They can either do this by testing their blood sample or by using insulin pumps. (Insulin pumps deliver a regulated dose of insulin through a needle implanted under the skin. The insulin pump is worn in a pack on the body. Some pumps include a sensor that constantly measures the level of blood sugar, and adjusts the dose of insulin accordingly).
I have seen two clients of Type 1 diabetes in my private practice of 3+yrs. Both of them were adolescents between 14-18yrs. In both cases I could see Type 1 diabetes taking a mental toll on the child. Nobody is mentally prepared for a chronic disease. And same was the case with my two clients.
Now since you are familiar with the definition, symptoms and treatment of Type 1 diabetes, I would like to elaborate how it took a mental toll on my two clients.
All this led to lowered self-esteem and increased mental health concerns among my clients. They went into their shells and constantly asked themselves as to “why them?” Why couldn’t they lead a “normal” life like others? Why couldn’t they enjoy the simple things in life such as playing outdoors, eating whatever they wished to at any given point of time during the day? and so on… The list of questions seemed overwhelming and endless implying that acceptance for this disease was hard to come.