Stadium Stomp for Type 1 and Mental Health – The Hidden Complication of Type 1
A message from T1F Director Ange Liston-McCaughley:
"Steph came to me earlier this year in a very, very dark place. At the time, I felt honoured that she reached out to T1F for support and connection and entrusted us to help get her through this tough time. Steph also had an idea that would ultimately change the path her life was headed in. You see, this girl was determined to literally step out out her dark hole, one stomp at a time. She also wanted to break down the barriers and change the view that Mental Health and Type 1 are very much 'hidden' or simply not mentioned. The Type1 Foundation is passionate about creating a world that understands the link between Chronic disease and Mental health. Mental Illness feels isolating, it's deeply personal and relentless. While receiving treatment for depression and anxiety, Steph found being outdoors gave her a sense of freedom. Steph has created a legacy, one that makes me very proud to be involved with. She wants to share with you the 'real stuff' that helped her get through 'Stomp for Type 1 and Mental Health. We hope that by allowing you into the real world of depression, it may help to know that you are not alone'...
Steph's Story- Stomping for Type1 and Mental Health…
Depression is like living behind glass. You see it, but you don’t feel or experience any of it. I’ll never forget the moment I smelt roses from a distance and cried. I don’t even like the smell of roses.
Going through treatment for Mental Illness is lonely and deeply personal. Type 1 is very similar. Both are relentless on a daily basis.
I was 14 at diagnosis and Mental Illness was not recognised as a complication of Type 1. I distinctly recall in my adolescence battling a ‘quality vs quantity’ of life argument in my mind. A good life or a long life? I felt I had to choose one. Depression and an adolescent brain decided that a good life was not ‘mine’ to experience...Type 1 had proven that.
As a fairly logical thinker, my aim then, was to live as long as possible. I evaluated this on the results of my HbA1c. I learnt quickly that a ‘perfect’ result wasn’t possible. I lost hope. With adolescent brain growth, this pattern of thinking entwined itself into my identity and sense of belonging in the world. It wasn’t until 2 years ago when I was referred to Sian at Pritchard Health, that I was able to question my views in a healthy and safe way. This was the first time the mental struggle with Type 1 had been acknowledged by a health professional. Imagine thinking the sky is blue your whole life and learning that it’s actually red. I need help to sort through that! I’m nearly 29 and am now, with good help, am pulling apart my brain in an attempt to rewire it again.
I’d been living in bed for most of my waking hours for months. Depression physically makes you feel like you’re weighed down by thick mud. Stomp started by taking a step outside. I needed to be told and encouraged to do this. Outside was overwhelming and disorientating. The world seemed very loud and bright. Stomp was not my aim at this stage. Survival was.
Climbing stairs required every ounce of energy I had. This was a good thing. It gave me a rhythm to day-to-day life. Eat, sleep, stairs. Nature was an escape from my mind. With help, I was able to go outside for a walk! Depression is like living behind glass. You see it, but you don’t feel or experience any of it. never forget the moment I smelt roses from a distance and cried. I don’t even like the smell of roses.
When I left hospital, I had to learn ways to trick my brain into functioning.
My 3-Step Training Plan:
These may take 2-4 hours depending on the day. To avoid being overwhelmed, don’t think of step 3 first.
1. Get out of Bed
Turn Bluetooth speaker on via phone.
It’ll drown out any ‘noise’ in your head.
2. Have a Shower
Keep music playing and listen to lyrics instead of your depression.
Stick to a specific sequence of washing and drying.
Habit requires less effort.
3. Get Outside
Exercise clothes need to be easiest to access.
Once they’re on, you may as well go outside.
You do not look at the weather.
You do not turn the music off.
You pick up your keys, lollies, headphones, check your BGL
Walk out the door.
In that order, every time.
Habit requires less effort.
Physically, this was a new and huge challenge for me. After a while Type 1 learnt the rhythm and followed along nicely (most of the time!). However, I did have a few of those downright terrifying hypos! Each step, whether it was easy or hard, gave me a small sense of achievement. I had made it over another one!
Take home notes from this experience...
Don’t ignore yourself
Rest when you need to
I am now ‘recovering’. Recovery does not mean cure. There is no finish line and is always changing. Recovery is about gaining and retaining hope, knowing your limits and engaging in life, in whatever way that looks to you.
Stairs climbers recover by stretching and keeping hydrated. Type 1s recover frequently from hypos by eating glucose and resting. Both of these things need input and effort. Your Mental Health is just the same.
The Type 1 Foundation, Sian at Pritchard Health, my St John of God crew, family and friends, have been absolutely essential for getting me over that Stomp finish line! I was proud of my team for pushing themselves to achieve their personal goals, know their limits and ask for help when they needed.
The overall response for ‘Stadium Stomp for Type 1 and Mental Health’ has been overwhelming. It’s ok to be vulnerable and to hate every minute of it. You’re not alone in that. I hate it too. Keep talking, be honest and be open. Type 1 is hard. It’s ok, to not feel ok about that. Reach out for help. The T1F website has some great resources to guide you.
You don’t realise how much support you need, until you really need it. We are here with you, one step at a time.