A few weeks ago, I came across my journal from high school and I decided to look through it. For the most part, I don’t even like thinking about high school because it was a hard time in my life. But, that journal also inspired me to write this post.
I have had Type 1 Diabetes for almost 21 years. There have been ups and downs throughout the years, but the hardest years by far were my high school years. Let’s be honest, it’s hard enough being a teenage girl already, without adding Type 1 into the mix. There were a lot of things back then that made my life complicated, but Type 1 was the worst!
I went years pretending that my diabetes didn’t exist. It really amazes me how I didn’t end up in the hospital or WORSE! Sometimes I wonder how I’m even still alive! It seems dramatic, but really, I played with fire back then. It was dangerous and I didn’t care.
When I was diagnosed, I truly believe that my parents did everything in their power to do what they could for me. They learned everything they needed to in order to take care of me. I always had everything I needed. I’m not going to pretend like I know what it was like to be in their shoes, because I don’t. I hope I never have to experience what they did, having to constantly worry and stress about having a child with Type 1.
But, as I got older, my parents loosened the reigns a bit and I took over caring for Diabetes (mostly) on my own. That was understandable. By high school age, I should have been fully capable of caring for myself. But, I wasn’t.
I was a mess. I lived my days not caring about what I ate, not caring if I had my insulin, and not checking my blood sugar. I was the only person I knew with Type 1, and I absolutely hated feeling different than everyone else. So, I refused to be different. There were days that I didn’t even give my shots, just because I didn’t “feel” like it.
I was miserable, all day, every day. My blood sugar was always high, and I felt awful. Because of that, I was always in a terrible mood. My parents didn’t even want to be around me, and I don’t really blame them. They probably thought I was just being a moody teenager, but really, I was slowly killing myself.
Only a handful of people knew that I had Type 1 Diabetes. My family and a few friends, that was it. I kept it so secret, that no one would ever know. When I was first diagnosed in middle school, the teachers and the nurse looked after me and made sure I did the things I was supposed to do. When I got to high school, that didn’t happen. A few of my teachers knew, but most didn’t.
I was on injections back then. I took all my supplies to school, so my mom would think I was using them, and they would never come out of my book bag. Before lunch, I would walk into the lunch line with everyone else, ignoring that fact that I needed my insulin. I didn’t want anyone to question why I would be late to lunch, so I just didn’t give my shot. Every day at school, I would eat my lunch with NO insulin at all. Thinking about this now makes me cringe!
My sugars were always high, so I was always hungry. My body was basically starving! I would always go to the cafeteria with one of my friends during art class and buy snacks. I was constantly eating. Since my sugars were always high, it felt normal to me. I was functional somehow. My grades were really good in high school too, which is surprising! I almost always made honor roll, and in my junior year I got straight A’s.
Thinking back on these days gives me a lot of anxiety. Mostly, I try to block a lot of it out! I was depressed most of time. I used to sit in my room and just cry. It was truly awful. I feel so sad for my teenage self, because I really wish that I would have reached out and got some help.
There were a lot of family issues going on back then that didn’t help the situation. My parents divorced when I was young, and I was having a hard time with that. I always have. Without getting into too much detail, my dad wasn’t around as much as I wanted him to be, and I struggled with that. Because of this, there were a lot of family arguments! My mom and dad used to fight a lot too, and that took a toll on me. It made me more stressed out, and it made me care about my health even less. Honestly, I didn’t care if I lived or died. That’s hard to admit, but it’s the truth.
There is a lot more I could say about my depression, but I will save that for another post at a later date! I don’t want this to be TOO long.
My boyfriend at the time helped me so much. I would vent to him a lot about what I was feeling, and he always listened. He did what he could to help me, but there wasn’t much he could do when I wasn’t willing to help myself. When we went places together, he would always make sure I had my insulin and I had sugar if I went low.
He could very well be the reason I never went into DKA. I think I did JUST enough to keep me out of the hospital, but not enough to be healthy. We started dating in the beginning of my junior year, and we were together until I was 20. I will never forget how much he helped me through that awful time. I am thankful for that.
Looking back on those years, I know that it didn’t have to be that way. I know that most of the way I was feeling was because my blood sugar was always out of control. Even now, if my sugar is high for a prolonged period, I start to feel depressed.
I don’t blame anyone for the things I did back then, but I do wish that someone was able to see what was going on. I was really struggling, and I was killing myself by ignoring my Diabetes. I thank the lucky stars that I made it through that, and that I don’t have any diabetes related complications. I choose to believe that I went through all of that for a reason, and I know that it has made me into the strong person that I am today. I am very diligent about my health now, even though it took me many years to get to this point.
I’m sure many diabetic teens go through phases of not caring about their health. If you are one of them, just know, it DOES get better. You don’t have to go through life feeling completely miserable. If I would have put some effort into my health back then, my high school experience probably would have been much different. It pays to take care of yourself in the long run. I know what it feels like to feel hopeless, and that your life will never get better, but it does. If I could talk to my 16 year old self, I would tell her that. <3