A Dead Pancreas & A Broken Heart

Guest post written by Marie-Line Cyr, who runs the fabulous French-Canadian blog Punk Rock Avenue. This is part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music. 

Last year, when I was thinking about my 35th birthday, I pictured myself on Vancouver Island. My plan was to drive across Canada all by myself and celebrate my birthday by the Pacific Ocean. Actually, I celebrated my 35th birthday last September alone and crying on the couch, with a dead pancreas and a broken heart. Here’s the story of my downward slide to the bottom.

2018 has been the worse year of my life. I started having health problems on January 4th. Something wrong in my right eye directly linked to an immune system disorder. Which disorder? Nobody had a clue. I was so scared of what they would find. Finally, they found nothing but prediabetes. So I stopped eating sugar and crap and took care of my health. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stop the disease. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June. That’s when I started being super sick and had to stop working. I was so weak and tired and I was literally melting while doing nothing at home. There was something wrong. My blood sugar became so high that I spent a couple of nights on the verge of a diabetic coma. I was going to bed at night so scared of not waking up the morning after. It became obvious that I needed insulin and that I was in fact a type 1 diabetic.

I started insulin on July 18th and I will always remember that day. I was in my bathroom, staring at the needle while being too scared to put it in my belly. But I knew I had to do it to stay alive. Just like I knew I would have to do it for the rest of my life. My pancreas was dead and I had no choice but to do its job to survive. So I played Survive from Main Line 10 on Spotify, my diabetes anthem as I call this song, and put the freaking needle in my belly. My diabetic life had just started.

At first, I had no clue what type 1 diabetes really was. To me it was just putting needles in my body and eating less sugar. How I was wrong. It became quickly clear that that disease was going to change all aspects of my life. I felt totally lost, like never before in my life. My friends and my family were really supportive, but just like me, they had no clue what to do or how to help me. They felt totally powerless, just like I did.

And that’s exactly when some guy popped out of nowhere one day because I liked his band, telling me that he had type 1 diabetes too and could help me and answer my questions. He quickly became my angel without wings. He taught me everything I know about diabetes. He gave me advice, told me to never let the disease control my life and showed me devices that could help me have a normal life. He was there when I felt lost and was so down that I just wanted to give up. We talked so much to each other everyday and we shared so many interests and passions that we became very close. Way too close. Actually, we fell in love with each other. It was insane, but we were going to live a diabetic fairy tale together. We started making plans for the future. Crazy plans, but still possible plans. And I started seeing diabetes as the reason we met, which made it more acceptable. I was able to see some positive in my nightmare. But the nightmare was just about to become worse.

After a couple of weeks, I realized that my fairy tale was in fact based on lies, empty promises and false hopes. I was totally wrong about his motives and I couldn’t count on him anymore. I was left alone with diabetes and a broken heart on top of it, when all I needed was help. That’s when I started isolating myself. I had lost the only person who knew what I was going through and could help me with problems that people around me just couldn’t understand even if they were trying hard.

I was crying nights and days. I totally lost interest in things I’ve always liked. I stopped going out, I stopped answering the phone, I stopped writing, I stopped singing and I even stopped listening to music. I was so absorbed in my negative thoughts that I preferred silence over music. Music has always been my whole life.

I’ll always remember the day when I finally realized that I hit the bottom and couldn’t go any deeper. The shower was on and I was sat on my bathroom rug, naked and singing Too Old For Drugs by Symphony of Distraction a cappella with tears running down my cheeks. I could seriously have written that song, except that I had no train tracks by my apartment, but a load of insulin cartridges in my fridge. That was my plan. There’s nothing like a new diabetic who messed up with her doses of insulin, took too much then died from it. I was that deep, ready to give up on everything.

It was time to do something. I just couldn’t stay like that. I’m glad I still had enough strength to call my family doctor. I told him that I wasn’t doing good at all and I started crying. He had me fill a questionnaire and his conclusion was that it wasn’t a problem with accepting my disease anymore, I was in deep depression. Even if I already knew, it wasn’t fun to hear it. I asked him a delay of two weeks before starting pills or doing anything. I needed time to digest the news and there was the Music 4 Cancer fest the day after where I was going with one of my best friends.

But the thing is, my diabetic love was supposed to be with me at that fest. He had a ticket, but I told him not to come. So when Much the Same dedicated Stitches to me, my favorite song, because they kind of knew what I was going through, I just burst into tears and the flow was unstoppable. It’s like everything I had gone through in the months before was coming out all at once.

My friend took me out of the festival site and had me sit on a bench to calm down. I wasn’t even able to explain to him what was going on. The pain was so unbearable that I felt like I was totally out of my mind. And when we went back to our place that night, my friend asked me to sit on the porch and talk to him. And I cried so much without being able to say a word that he just hold me tight in his arms until I was able to speak. Then I told him everything, even my worst thoughts. And I will always remember that night and what he told me. He did exactly what a great friend is supposed to do in such a situation and I feel so lucky to have people like him around me. Trudel, I know you’re going to read this, so thank you.

I started the happy pills, but most importantly, I started to open up to people about what I was going through. Without my friend Martin, my Punk Rock Avenue crew and my girls who have my back everyday, I just couldn’t have survived to tell my story. I wrote an article about depression and I was scared to publish it. I was scared to be labelled like a depressive and weak girl. And instead of being judged, I just felt like people had my back, especially people from the punk rock scene. And because I was able to talk about my situation, people started to open up to me and I felt that, maybe, I could make a difference. So that’s why I’m writing my story right now. If I can help one single person with my writing, then I’ve done something good.

It took me a long time to start writing this story and now, I understand why. I don’t like sad stories with sad endings and today I feel like my story might have a happy ending. I still have a long road ahead, I still have bad days, but I’m definitely doing better. I see my insulin like a way to live, not like a way to die. My heart is still broken. In so many pieces that it will take time to get back to normal and feel like I can love again. But in the meantime, I’m surrounded by amazing people who remind me everyday that they love me and that I deserve what’s best. I still learn how to deal with diabetes. Every day brings new challenges, but at least I feel like I can overcome those challenges. I’m back at training every morning without facing low sugar, I can have a couple of beers with my friends without putting myself into diabetic trouble, I still go to shows, I’m back to writing… I can say that I’m back to an almost normal life. The next step is going back to work and I know it will be pretty soon. I still have dreams and a lot of things to do.

If you read my story and feel like you’re on the edge, please, don’t give up. Never hesitate to ask for help and open up to people around you. They will probably understand way better than you could have imagined. There are a lot of people in the punk rock scene facing depression, anxiety and mental issues. We have to stick together because, in the end, we’re stronger together.

Guest post written by Marie-Line Cyr. Be sure to check out her French Canadian punk rock blog, Punk Rock Avenue. This is part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music. 


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