It was 2018, and I had been dealing with a breakup between me and my boyfriend of almost two years. This was not just a normal break up. He had broken up with me and then insisted that he wanted me back for months after. He was not respecting me and my space that I had asked for, and it was taking a big toll on my mental health. I was trying to get back into the dating scene all while I had an ex that would not leave me alone. A few months had passed, and my breakup depression had become much worse. I was lacking self-confidence, lacking self-worth, and was having terrible anxiety that my ex would show up unannounced wherever I was. My mental health caused me to not take care of my diabetes which landed me in the hospital. I was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). This had not been my first time, so I knew what was happening but this time it was a little different. Usually when you go into DKA, the doctors want to know what got you to this point. Previously my excuses were drinking too much alcohol, not taking insulin, the common things. This time it was because I was depressed and anxious. When I was admitted to the emergency room, I had asked the nurse if anxiety can cause DKA. She told me absolutely and that even me asking had raised my heart rate above normal. When I got stabilized and was able to speak to the doctor, he asked the question “What happened, Jessica?” After that, I explained everything that had been happening in my life and what I was going through with my mental health. He completely brushed it off and said that my DKA trigger had been unexplained. I felt dumb. Knowing that a doctor said that he was unsure why I was hospitalized made me feel like a terrible diabetic even after living with it for more that 20 years. The doctor even made me stay another 24 hours in the hospital to make sure that I knew how to control my diabetes. It was very humiliating.

Once I got home from the hospital, I got on my computer and did some research about mental health and diabetes and learned that the two were connected. I will never forget that moment. I knew I was not alone with my battle with mental health and diabetes. I started going to therapy and I was going to a counselor once a week to get my mental game back in control. I was able to get back to my life and learned how to handle my mental health along with my diabetes. Years later while talking to a diabetic educator I had not seen before, she asked me the reason for my latest hospitalization. I explained my mental health at the time, and she reassured me that my reasoning was 100% legit. Oh, the relief it was to hear this from a professional. She explained that when your mental health starts to take a hit, sometimes your diabetes takes a back seat. She also explained that while that is okay for a short period, if you do not learn how to balance the two it can be extremely dangerous.

Now, a few years later, I am mentally stronger and learned so much from this experience. I learned to trust myself- trust that I know my body better than anyone. I learned to stand up for myself in the medical setting and if I do not feel comfortable with something and that I have an explanation, that I can voice that to my doctors and we can work together. I also learned that the medical world is not one sided. Growing up diabetic I always thought that I would have to listen to my doctors 100%. Most importantly, I learned to always focus on my mental health, to live a healthy life as a diabetic, and that mental health needs to be a priority just as much as your insulin ratios. 

Hi my name is Jess and I have been a type 1 diabetic since 1997. I am currently on the Tandem t:slim and the Dexcom G6. I live in Minnesota and love spending my free time watching a variety of sports and relaxing on the couch working on my Instagram account @fearless_T1D. I have been through a lot in my 23 years of diabetes but I have also become extremely strong just like all diabetics in the world!

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