Whether you use a Freestyle Libre, Dexcom G6, or something else, we're all facing similar mental health struggles. We should face them together.
With over 60% of diabetics struggling with daily mental health problems, we need to band together and support one another.
Today we celebrate a local diabetic superhero, known as Doctor Speedo, who is doing just that. Howard Stringer is a junior doctor in Liverpool, and since 1st January, has been running to raise awareness for type one diabetes.
As the name suggests, Howard runs 5km per day in nothing but a pair of speedos. The speedos allow him to run really fast because they are aerodynamic but offer no protection against winter's biting cold here in the UK. We aren't sure if it counts as clothing, but he does wear a Freestyle Libre 2 glucose monitor, socks, and shoes.
Howard was unexpectedly diagnosed with type one diabetes in December 2021 and converted that news into a burst of positive energy through his running.
Howard is converting negative energy into positive energy by projecting it outward. By running with his Freestyle Libre to raise awareness of type one diabetes, he's inspiring others and spreading positivity. Exercise is well known to promote mental health, and Howard's initiative is a fantastic way to safeguard not only his mental health but help others understand theirs.
But, there's a twist. Howard has an accomplice. And it's not an Omnipod.
Fancy Dress Jess regularly joins Howard on his icy runs, sometimes as a t-rex, for moral support and to promote the cause.
It's REALLY hard to do what Howard has done. Becoming a champion of positivity with a recent type one diabetes diagnosis, still working 13-hour night shifts as a junior doctor, and then running 5km in freezing temperatures requires more than just resilience.
Howard demonstrates courage and fortitude of spirit. Every day he gets up, and he runs. Then he goes to work. It's one step forward and no steps back. Every run he does, and every new thing he learns about T1D, is a small but meaningful victory. This mindset is one of the most powerful tools to preventing diabetes burnout.
This is positive thinking at its finest because it's converted into real-life energy. And it touches all of us.
Howard is an example of using marginal gains to get a great return on mental wellbeing. You don't need to run every day in a pair of speedo's, but if you can just run once a week or change one habit, you'll see your positivity start to increase - exponentially. This is backed up by an array of research papers, like this one, where we can see that exercise can help to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
It's initiatives like this that are helping to chip away at the 60% figure. The only way to treat mental health problems is to add happiness.
Watching Howard & Jess raise awareness of diabetes makes us happy. He's educating the public about his Freestyle Libre when they see it and gradually making things better for all of us.
We're stronger together, and we're happier when we work together.
References & sources
Balhara, Yatan Pal Singh. “Diabetes and psychiatric disorders.” Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism vol. 15,4 (2011): 274-83. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.85579
Mental Health Foundation. 2022. How to look after your mental health using exercise. [online] Available at: <https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-using-exercise> [Accessed 15 February 2022].
Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty FD. Exercise for mental health. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;8(2):106. doi: 10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a. PMID: 16862239; PMCID: PMC1470658.
Stahl-Pehe A, Glaubitz L, Bächle C, Lange K, Castillo K, Tönnies T, Yossa R, Holl RW, Rosenbauer J. Diabetes distress in young adults with early-onset Type 1 diabetes and its prospective relationship with HbA1c and health status. Diabet Med. 2019 Jul;36(7):836-846. doi: 10.1111/dme.13931. Epub 2019 Mar 25. PMID: 30761589.
UK, D., burnout?, W., diagnosed?, N. and possible, Y., 2022. What is diabetes distress and burnout?. [online] Diabetes UK. Available at: <https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/emotions/diabetes-burnout> [Accessed 15 February 2022].