My stay story hasn’t concluded

Name: Kirsty Hallam
Pronouns: She/her
Instagram: Ha11am22

I have never spoke of this to another soul but I guess now is a good a time as any and if it resonates with anyone, then what a bonus.

I got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 8 years old. Honestly I was 8, I didn’t know the effect it would have on my life or how it was going to change. I just knew I was in a hospital with needles and IVs coming out my arms and doctors and nurses coming in and out of my room for a week of my life. Everything changed from that day on. My mindset changed. My mental health shifted without it ever being discussed by medical professionals as something that could happen with the diagnosis. This is stuff I had to learn on my own 20 years into it. All I knew was I was different to my friends. Whilst they could eat all the sweets teachers gave out, they were singling me out and giving me a new pencil instead. I was drinking sparkling water in class which was banned for everyone but me. Sounds great right?! Not so much when you’re 8 and the fear of being different makes you go home and sob for hours.

Over the years I had what they call diabetic burnout. I just didn’t care what happened to me. I didn’t care if me drinking meant I passed out 3 nights a week and every week effected my blood sugar. I didn’t care if not testing my blood sugar was the biggest gamble I took with my life every day.

A few years ago my godson was born. He was the biggest wake up call for me. I had to be there for him right? I had to take control of my life and my condition so that he had me as an addition to bring something to his life. So I did just that. I worked my arse off to get my condition under control. I tested my blood sugar 12+ times a day. I cut out all the fun stuff everyone enjoys eating and I stopped drinking so much. I did it all so I could gain control of my life.

I then moved back to England from Boston, and then moved from Liverpool to London to start a Masters to pave the way for where I wanted my career to go. I went back to London where I thought I’d have the greatest chance of the best education and job prospects. It was in London I started to understand my own mental health. All this time whenever I was in a dark place and I didn’t know how to deal I would drink. So unhealthy, but it was my coping mechanism. Me understanding more about mental health made me recognise this, but it didn’t make me change the habits. It just made me highlight those habits and consider these probably were not the best. Everything came crashing down for me in London. I was working one job for my degree, another job to pay the bills and was completing a degree that my lecturer told me I was not smart enough to even be completing. I was struggling to keep up with the work. I was struggling to survive with doing 80 hour weeks every single week and people still wanting more from me. Whatever I gave, it wasn’t enough for them. When I gave them more the response was why were you not always giving this much?

I had come back from job number one and was rushing through the tube station at Oxford Circus (London’s busiest tube station). I remember being in the station. I remember trying to scan through to get on my train and then it went blank. I woke up with two paramedics next to me trying to force coke into my mouth and a lovely tube worker with my head in her lap telling me her name. I was mortified! Every single person in that tube station was stopping to look at me lying on the ground. I mean who wouldn’t, right? It felt like the whole of London had seen me at the lowest point I can get to with my diabetes and the shame started.

What I hadn’t realised until much much later after this incident was how badly depression effects me when my blood sugars are that low. Whether that has always been the case and I’ve just recognised them or if this has been a more recent development I don’t know. I walked through the next week with so much shame, so much embarrassment and so much anger that it was all consuming. A few days later I got a new tattoo, this is usually something that is good for my mental wellbeing, but it did nothing for me.

The day after I got my new tattoo I was stood on the platform of the tube so close to the edge of the platform. I was going through my head how I hoped that however it happened that my new tattoo was salvaged and they could still see it because no one had and I was so proud of that thing. In recent years the tube stations have got WiFi in them and that day it was my saving grace. I had everything planned. I was looking down the tunnel and could see the tube was on its way when I got a buzzing in my pocket. I looked down and there was my smiley faced godson with a message from his mum saying he missed me.

I had never gotten to that point before. I’d thought about dying. I’d thought about if it happens when my blood sugar drops and no one is there. I’ve had thoughts when I’m driving when I’ve thought what would actually happen if I didn’t press the break at this stop. But I’d never had the plan in my head. I’d never actively gone as far as I did that day. My best friend and my godson will never know what they did for me that day. Or maybe they will, maybe I will tell them one day where I was at the moment in time. I’m not sure. That was a year and a half ago.

I’m not going to tell you after that moment everything got better and now I’m thriving because that would be a lie. I still struggle every day. Sometimes things continually pile on top of you and the world and your life will continue to test you. It’s not easy but I try to be present and stay. For my godson, for my family. For the kids I work with that struggle to want to stay and need me to tell them that we will get through it together.

We are constantly reprimanded in life for taking our struggles to heart and for having a hard time for them. We are constantly told others have it worse. Don’t let anyone tell you that your suffering is less than anyone else’s. It is all real and it is all of value.

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