‘I was diagnosed with diabetes as a teenager it was hard to adjust’

A woman who was diagnosed with diabetes as a teenager has shared how the shock of her diagnosis left her struggling with her mental health.

Shannon Ball, 26 from West Yorkshire, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at the age of 16 – and was forced to overhaul her lifestyle after the diagnosis.

Recalling the tough time after learning she has the condition – which required her to take tablets everyday from an early age.

She told the Mirror: “It can be mentally hard. Because I am type 2 and you have the medication side of things.”

At the time Shannon lived with her nan, who took take care of Shannon’s diet and prescriptions, as the teen struggled with her new diagnosis.

“I would say yes I have taken them [tablets], but in my mind I knew I hadn’t. It was later on in life I got into the mindset. I’ve also had life experiences where everything has been in hospital, and that can be a head shaker”.

The lifestyle changes for Shannon made it particularly difficult for her to adjust and understand her early diagnosis.

She added: “Lifestyle changes are difficult for a teenager. For someone to be in and out of this spot of ‘What’s wrong with me? What’s going on? Can it be helped?’”

“Me and my nan were doing Weight Watchers, doing this and that to control diets, and walking around college for exercise. But there’s only so much stuff out there for young people to look on for help.”

For Shannon and her nan it took two months of back and forth hospital visits, before she was diagnosed. The lack of access to support made it difficult for her to understand why she was facing some of her symptoms.

“I would come home from college and be really tired, and my nan would be like this isn’t normal. To the point where I wouldn’t be able to wake up because I was that exhausted.”

“It started from there really, I was awake one moment and then falling asleep the next. Having a really dry mouth and being thirsty all the time, being sweaty and not feeling the best at times.”

“Then we took the sugar test and that’s when I found out I was diabetic.”

Shannon was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes which can develop slowly and is difficult to spot.

According to Diabetes UK, around 90 percent of people with diabetes have Type 2, which can be caused by family history, age and being from an ethnic background which puts them at increased risk.

The 26-year-old now urges young people who feel they have any symptoms to get checked and seek professional help.

“Make sure to reach out to someone, and with your symptoms, like I was experiencing as a teenager, I would put them off as something else.

Go to professionals, don’t diagnose yourself. If you do think it’s diabetes please do go to your GP or a professional.”

Now, 10 years on Shannon has the amazing support of her family and Diabetes UK. She recently took part in Months of Miles challenge, a marathon run to raise money for Diabetes UK.

“Because it was running I did it walking, so I walked the marathon” Shannon shares.

“I did it and I was so proud of the achievement.”

Since, Shannon has taken on walking and is keen to keep up with her activity levels and health.