Recently, we wrote about a study that documented high rates of suicide and drug use among organ donors with Type 1 diabetes. We asked for others to share their experiences with these issues. Aysha Amin responded, and we are sharing her story, with permission, here:
I read your article today and it was a huge relief to hear that I’m not alone. I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts for close to 12 years since I was in 7th grade. My suicidal thoughts aren’t completely related to my diabetes, as I also grew up in an abusive household, which I think heavily impacted my problems.
I was diagnosed at age 10, just three months after my brother was born. My parents couldn’t really manage both a baby and a newly diagnosed diabetic, so about a year post-diagnosis I was more or less left to fend for myself. I was often left with my brother’s nannies, who had no idea what it took to manage my diabetes. My own parents didn’t know how to manage my diabetes.
For years I acted like I didn’t have diabetes; I never checked my blood sugars, and I hardly ever gave myself the right amount of insulin. It got so bad that I would lose my meter for days and I wouldn’t even notice.
In 6th grade, I got stuck with the world’s worst school nurse. The school wouldn’t allow me to keep my supplies with me, so I would miss close to an hour of class every day while waiting for her to let me access my supplies. That is when I started to really have problems with my mental health and diabetes.
The next year we moved to a new school district. I had an amazing nurse whose daughter also had diabetes. Mrs. Woods was probably the only person I could rely on to ensure I had proper care. Unfortunately, I didn’t have her near me during the summers and I was only there for two years before starting high school.
It was at the beginning of high school when I began to think about how I could use my insulin to end my life; I’d just be another statistic. But I never could do it. I honestly don’t know why. For some reason, I always decided to stay a little while longer.
I started seeing a new therapist two years ago. She’s biracial like I am and of the same background, which helps. She’s the only therapist I have ever been open with regarding my suicidal thoughts; she seems to completely understand. I was always scared therapists would tell my parents, that I’d be thrown into a psych. hold, that being honest would blow up in my face.
My therapist has been a huge help. She referred me to a psychiatrist who got me on the right meds. She helped me realize that I’m always going to have those thoughts, that my depression will always be there, but it’s ok. She’s convinced me that I’ll also have good days, and that, with her help and my sheer will, I’ll survive a little while longer.
If you asked me a few years ago, I never thought I would make it this far. I thought I was never going to finish school, find a job, get married, or become a homeowner. But here I am with the lowest A1C I’ve ever had at 6.8, with my fancy t:slim insulin pump, and a CGM that has saved my life more than once. I graduated, I got married two years ago, we adopted two cats, my husband and I bought a condo, I’m employed with a major non-profit, and I’m finally feeling ok.
If you are depressed and/or having suicidal thoughts, please don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional, your medical provider, or the emergency room. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with them at suicidepreventionlifeline.org
This story has been edited for length and clarity.
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