“I was so devastated by the diagnosis of diabetes that I suffered from a nervous breakdown”
When Coronation Street’s Summer Spellman was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Natalie Balmain knew all too well what the shocked teen was going through.
Image: Nathalie Balmain)
Natalie Balmain was only 20 when it was announced that she had type 1 diabetes and was so devastated that she suffered a nervous breakdown.
“I’m a strong-minded person, but being diagnosed at this age affected my mental health. I had a nervous breakdown after my diagnosis. I tried to kill myself, ”she says.
“It happened very quickly. I got out of the hospital and then it hit me. I had to inject myself and I couldn’t cope. I ransacked my room and tried to drink a bottle of shampoo. My roommates called my dad and he called an ambulance. The rest is blurry.
Now Natalie has used her experiences to advise Coronation Street on Summer Spellman’s recent diabetes story, and has also spoken to actress Harriet Bibby about how she feels.
“I was asked to speak with Harriet because I was the same age when I was diagnosed.
“You just learn to know who you are as a person and to think about the life you are going to have. Then diabetes comes in and snatches it out of you. You have to mourn the life you have imagined for yourself.
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Type 1 diabetes, which is different from the more common type 2 diabetes, causes the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood to become too high. It requires injections of insulin or insulin delivered via a pump to keep blood sugar under control.
After her diagnosis, Natalie, now 35, suffered from depression for four years, made worse by the number of hypos she suffered. Hypoglycemia – hypo – occurs when blood sugar drops too low, usually below four millimoles per liter.
Symptoms include sweating, blurred vision, tremors, difficulty concentrating, and feeling hungry or anxious.
They normally occur when a person delays meals, drinks alcohol on an empty stomach, or exercises a lot.
Natalie says, “I felt like I had completely lost control of my life – I couldn’t even take a long walk or clean the house without feeling bad.
Onscreen, schoolgirl Summer struggles to come to terms with her diagnosis and collapses after convincing herself that energy drinks and fruit cider won’t upset her blood sugar. Natalie, who lives in Manchester and works as a hospital communications director, says she too discovered early on that diabetes would have a major impact on her lifestyle.
“I was a student when I was diagnosed. At the time, my blood sugar was out of control and I had to stop partying, ”she recalls.
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Alcohol has a profound effect on type 1, and I would have hypos while dancing. There were so many risks and I had to grow up really fast.
Natalie was diagnosed in 2007 while studying at the University of Birmingham. It happened just three months before his 21st birthday. Like Summer onscreen, her first symptom was weight loss, followed by a raging thirst.
“Some nights I drank so much water that I threw it up. Also, my vision was blurry, but I didn’t know it was anything serious.
It wasn’t until Natalie returned home that she was diagnosed with diabetes. Onscreen, Summer’s family noticed her weight loss and assumed she had an eating disorder. Angry Summer denied it and Natalie says it reflected her experience.
“My parents were horrified because I had lost the 3.5th. I’m 5 feet 7 inches tall and fell to 6th place, ”she recalls.
They took her to the GP, who did a finger-prick blood test that showed Natalie’s blood sugar level to be 39.9 mmol / L, rather than four to seven. normal.
She was sent to the Royal Worcester Hospital where she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and almost immediately a nurse showed her how to give an injection.
“She said, ‘You’re going to do this for the rest of your life.’ I couldn’t understand, ”recalls Natalie.
It wasn’t until she started taking antidepressants and taking a carbohydrate counting class in her mid-20s that she began to recover. Classes teach people how to better manage blood sugar by matching insulin doses to the amount of carbohydrate in meals.
Corrie Harriet actress, 23, says she is very grateful for Natalie’s insight, admitting that she knew little about diabetes before being handed her story.
“One of the things Natalie and I talked about is that when you have diabetes, you can’t be as spontaneous and carefree as you would like,” says Harriet.
“If you go out, you need to know that you have enough insulin.
“Natalie said you have to grow up fast. Type 1 diabetes is a disease that will never go away. You have to take insulin for the rest of your life, which is very difficult to accept.
Natalie has taken matters into her own hands to make her life a little easier and help others. In 2017, she created her own clothing line, Type 1 Clothing, with clothing featuring stylish zippers and holes in the sections where people inject, including upper arms and stomach and upper arms. thighs.
She always finds it frustrating that people confuse the two types of diabetes.
“People read that diabetes can be cured with diet, but type 1 is definitely not. People also think it is self-inflicted. I’ve had guys ask me on a first date, “So what did you eat to get yourself this?” It is cruel and also incorrect.
“I have seen Type 1 incorrectly portrayed in Hollywood, so I am delighted that Coronation Street and Harriet have contacted Diabetes UK and myself as it could potentially save someone’s life.”