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My Great Awakening    

My Great Awakening

Art by FISK

By Hallie Belle Sheinbaum 

Imagine this. Your birthday is in two days, you are having a family dinner in your backyard for an early celebration, and you are in the midst of a global pandemic. Now, imagine this: four hours later, you are admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) at a hospital ten minutes from your home for diabetic ketoacidosis, and you almost die. 

I turned 19 years old alone in the hospital. That was also the day I realized I needed to take control of my life and prioritize my physical and mental health. 

I’ve had type 1 diabetes since I was four years old. I honestly can’t remember a life without it. When I entered my freshman year of high school, I developed something I refer to as my “F-U-Diabetes mentality,” which quickly led to my being in denial about even having diabetes. I was not taking care of myself. I never managed my blood sugars. The normal blood sugar level is 120, and my blood sugars were probably always around 280–I couldn’t tell you exactly because I was never testing them. This made me feel physically sick all the time and emotionally angry, sad, and depressed. But I didn’t think I felt that way because of my blood sugar levels; I just thought that was part of being a teenager.  This continued for about five years. By my junior year of high school, I was experiencing severe depression and anxiety. I barely could get to school, and the number of times I was told that I was not going to graduate on time became overwhelming. Somehow, I did it.  However, depression, anxiety, and school avoidance became my identity. I truly viewed myself as a “depressed person,” not as someone who experienced depression as a condition. My classmates and teachers did not see me as “Hallie.” They saw me as the troubled girl who was never in school. This was all a heavy weight to carry. 

Flash forward to the summer of 2020.  For four days, I was experiencing very strange symptoms–shortness of breath, rapid weight loss, very high heart rate, and severe acid reflux. It was like I was okay but totally not okay at the same time. On the fourth day of experiencing this, I just knew something was not right. That’s when I pieced it together. I was in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is a dangerous condition where your body is burning fat or energy at a fast rate which causes your blood to become acidic. DKA is deadly. 

I was rushed to the hospital at 11 pm that night, where I was admitted into the ICU for three days–In the midst of a global pandemic!   I was actually told in the hospital that if I hadn’t come in when I did, I probably would’ve fallen into a coma or died the next day. That never gets easier to say (or write). 

The moment I was discharged from the hospital was the moment I refer to as “My Great Awakening,” aka my becoming aware of how important it is to prioritize my physical and mental health above everything else.

This experience was a huge wake-up call that needed to happen. I actually think of it as a hidden blessing. I’m grateful it happened before I got really sick to the point that I couldn’t reverse things. It happened while I was still young and able to turn my life around–which I am proud to say I have done. 

Once I was out of the hospital, I decided to start seeing a life coach, I started seeing my therapist again, and began meditating and journaling every day.  I found a job that I love and started writing my own blog.  I found that by sharing my personal experiences, I discovered my passion for destigmatizing mental health. In terms of my physical health, I started wearing a sensor that connects to my phone and tells me my blood sugar levels at all times! Peace, love, technology. So, now my blood sugars are entirely under control, and my levels are basically perfect. I’ve also noticed that with stabilized blood sugars, my mental health improved tremendously. And, I have seen some physical improvements as well! My hair started growing thicker, my skin became more healthy, I didn’t feel sick all the time, and the aches and irritations that I had went away. It was like I was previously living in a dark fog all the time because now, everything has become more clear.  I can think more clearly, I can feel my emotions more clearly, and I can remember things more clearly. This may sound cheesy, but I’m seriously a new person.

I am really proud of where I am now, and I also like to acknowledge that I would not be the person I am today without this pivotal experience. I made a choice to take control of my life, and it was the best choice I have ever made. 

My DM’s are open, and I’d love to connect with you! Please feel free to reach out to me on my Instagram and share your great awakening moments or any questions you might have.

Keep the conversation going by commenting on this story below. You can also connect with us about whatever’s on your mind by texting The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414.