The support from my parents and I guess their whole attitude has really helped. I think... Like they've never said that diabetes has to stop me from doing anything. And they have encouraged me just to do pretty much everything that my friends are doing and that I want to do. It doesn't have to stop me from doing anything. So, I've taken that from them. I've been really open about my diabetes to pretty much everyone. I think my parents encourage that. And I've never tried to hide it from anyone at all. That's kind of... Led it to be open and people will ask questions if I am kind of open about it. The problem with any chronic illness is people don't understand and if you just take the time to explain things to them, then they are okay.
When I was around 14, I really started to take responsibility of my diabetes and taking over the control of diabetes from my parents. And that's also when I first started to feel depressed and my mood dropped. But I think that's taken me a really long time to realise that connection. Some of the signs that I was experiencing depression were things like I didn't enjoy the sport that I was doing, which I previously had really liked. I generally had liked school, and I didn't really, really like learning anymore. It was harder to kind of get out of bed and get going, and I didn't really wanna see any of my friends or kind of do anything really. So, a big loss of motivation.
To be honest, I didn't realise the connection between depression and diabetes for a long time. People were always telling me how common it is for people with chronic illness, particularly diabetes, to have depression, but I always thought, "No, that definitely wasn't the cause". And I don't think it was the only cause but I think it definitely had an impact because I was having that bigger responsibility that no one else, none of my friends had. When I first started experiencing depression, I kept it to myself for a long time. Until eventually, I did decide to see the school counsellor who actually referred me on to a psychiatrist who then officially diagnosed me when I was about 16 or 17. When he eventually said, "Look, I think you have depression". I think I kind of knew already, but in a way, it was a relief to know because I'd been feeling really bad about it and wondering why I didn't just snap out of it. Initially, I was put on medication, and I started seeing a therapist, which is really helpful. I guess kind of having that person outside the situation was really important to me because I did feel so bad about it. So, it's nice to know that there was someone out there who was willing to listen.
It took me a long time to find a therapist that I really felt comfortable with and who I trusted. I remember kind of making an effort to really start to do things and keep going to school, and keep playing sport and just try to do those things that I had previously enjoyed to bump up my motivation a bit. My only fear was really in the medication that I was taking. I kind of hoped that it would work but I also didn't really want to take it and I was worried if I did take it and it didn't work, then I was just making it up and I wasn't really depressed at all. With medication I did try a few, but once I kind of hit a good one, I felt clearer, and not necessarily happy or anything, but I felt much more capable to keep doing things. I was pretty open with my diabetes to everyone. Depression was probably the complete opposite. I didn't want to tell anyone. I guess I felt bad that I didn't feel great and that it was my fault. So, I guess that's different to diabetes because you can get a blood test and know that that's exactly what's wrong with you, but I guess it's a bit more... It's not as easy with depression to kind of have that definitive answer.
With depression, I really felt mostly embarrassed about it. I guess I don't really know why that was. I think because I had a pretty full life. I did heaps of sport. I played music. I had friends and I couldn't really understand why I would feel like that because I had all these great things and I still felt bad. Right now, I'm still in treatment for depression, and that's a lot of hard work, but it's really important that I do that and I take the time to actually make that important in my life. There have been times when my own health has taken a back seat and I think being a bit older now, I can see that I really have to be mindful of where things like depression are at and just be really aware of what I need to do if I do have trouble. I still regularly see a therapist which is really helpful. I guess it kind of makes me a bit accountable for myself as well. So, having that kind of check-in point is really, really beneficial.
I've realised that being honest is really, really important. I know I've hidden things like depression before because I've been embarrassed or ashamed or I didn't want anyone to know. But I guess, in that sense, I've also been made aware that if I'm not honest with someone like my psychiatrist or with diabetes and my endocrinologist, they can't actually help me as much as they can. They're not able to make judgement calls that are the most beneficial because I'm not telling the truth. Most important thing in my treatment, for both diabetes and depression, is to kind of accept that it's not always going to be perfect and accepting that sometimes, my blood sugar levels aren't gonna be where I want them to be, and sometimes, my moods are not gonna be where I want to be, but just kind of giving myself a break and saying, "It's okay that it's not perfect. You're just doing your best", has been the most helpful thing. I guess with diabetes and depression, things like exercise and regular sleep and regular meals are really important as well. So, I think that treatment in depression and diabetes can sometimes be quite similar. The most important piece of advice that I'd give anyone who has diabetes and has depression is to give yourself a break. It's really easy to be hard on yourself, especially if doctors, and professionals, and friends and family are being hard on you as well. But it's just really important that you just say to yourself, "I'm doing the best that I can, and that's not always gonna be perfect, but that's enough".