How I've Learned to Put My Health First

Sysy Morales, 28, of Roanoke, Virginia, learned she had Type 1 diabetes at age 11. She struggled with accepting and managing her diabetes and didn't always take care of herself. In high school and post-graduation, she suffered from depression and anxiety on top of diabetes burn out, but that was pre-motherhood.

Today, with a changed attitude and lifestyle habits, Sysy feels empowered to take care of herself and help others. Here, the married stay-at-home mom to 2-year-old twins (a boy and a girl) and diabetes advocate shares how she juggles toddler multiples while dealing with Type 1 diabetes.

"My mom story

By Sysy Morales
As told to Julie Weingarden Dubin

When I learned about my Type 1 diabetes, I was extremely frightened. I struggled a lot with accepting my disease. I'd think, "What if I didn't have diabetes?" or "Why do I have diabetes?" By high school, I began suffering from depression and anxiety and I still have to manage mild symptoms from time to time. Luckily, I never get too anxious or depressed anymore because I'm proactive about managing my symptoms with lifestyle habits such as regular exercise and a healthy diet. I've taken anti-anxiety medication to help me keep a positive frame of mind. It helps knowing that I've overcome this before so when I don't feel like myself, I always have hope that I'll feel better soon. Once I regained my health by managing my blood sugars and my weight, I was able to finally accept my diagnosis.

My biggest health scare came when I was pregnant with the twins. At 34 weeks, I developed preeclampsia and the symptoms of having such high blood pressure made me feel like I was close to death. I was terrified about what would happen to my babies. Luckily, that day I was getting a checkup and my doctor knew what was happening and sent me to the hospital for a C-section. My kids were born at healthy weights and I realized how important it is to be frequently monitored by a doctor during pregnancy.

Double Duty

It's a balancing act raising twins and staying on top of my diabetes. Motherhood's forced me to be more disciplined about managing my blood sugar levels. Now that I have two little kids who rely on me at home, I can't let my blood sugar levels get dangerously low. If something happens to me and I pass out, not only are my kids too young to call for help, but they might get hurt without my supervision, and I worry about this all the time. It's not just about me anymore.

I've never wanted my diabetes to get in the way of my parenting. It's not easy, the way I work to avoid getting high blood pressure -- sometimes I feel like I'm taking care of three babies at once. Besides being diabetic, my challenge is having two young kids the same age. It's tricky dealing with the same stage of development at the same time.

Motherhood's changed me. I'm more centered and focused. I have no time to waste. Every free hour gets put to good use. I've even created a blog, The Girl's Guide to Diabetes, to let other women with diabetes know they're not alone. My kids have given me the motivation and strength to do more than I've ever done before. My twin pregnancy experience with Type 1 diabetes and the first exhausting year with my twins were excruciatingly difficult and as a result, I've learned that I can do anything I set my mind to.

Mama tips

1.

Put you and your partner first. It will help keep you healthy enough to be a good mom.

2.

Get up before the kids. The free time is priceless for part-time work or a hobby.

3.

Don't beat yourself up. All moms are just trying to do the best we can. We can't be perfect and if we accept that, our kids will, too.

Read more about diabetes

Diabetes tips: exercise to manage the disease
10 things you should know if you have diabetes

Ten secrets to surviving the first year with twins

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