Stunning ex-model reveals how diabetes stigma has left her ‘unlucky in love’
A stunning former model has revealed how her diabetes has left her unlucky in love – from men thinking she is ‘drunk’ when having a hypoglycemic attack, to her insulin pump FALLING OFF during intercourse.
After being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes aged just 20, Natalie Balmain, now 32, has been left struggling to find a boyfriend who understands her condition and has been single for the last year.
From intruding in her most intimate moments – where her insulin pump fell off of her arm during intercourse – to being grilled on dates over whether it’s difficult to find a boyfriend due to her condition, Natalie feels her diabetes has made her search for Mr Right harder.
But the 32-year-old, from Malvern, Worcs, but now living in Manchester, has spoken out to break the stigma that she continues to face since her diagnosis and to encourage others to be proud of their condition.
Natalie, a communications manager for the NHS, said: “In the weeks after the diagnosis I felt ugly, I felt damaged and like no one would want to be with me – I thought I would be alone forever and that this was going to destroy me.
“When I was diagnosed I had a boyfriend who was very supportive, but since he and I split up, dating has been difficult.
“I went on a first date with someone who said to my face ‘Is it difficult getting a boyfriend when you’ve got diabetes?’.
“And even when I do reach an intimate level with someone, my diabetes still interferes – I’ve even had someone knock my insulin pump off which was obviously a bit awkward, my pump can definitely be a mood killer.
“For the most part people are quite polite and respectful but of course some people do make rude comments and it still does affect me.
Natalie, who was originally a dance teacher, was diagnosed 12 years ago after she visited the doctor feeling unwell and having lost weight.
She said the diagnosis had a ‘devastating’ impact on her life – triggering a nervous breakdown – and ended up forcing her to leave a job.
But more recently, Natalie has found the confidence to bare her pump proudly on display – and has even set up her own fashion label called ‘Type One’ which sells specially designed clothes for people with diabetes.
She said: “I had been feeling tired, thirsty and my vision was blurry but it came on so gradually I hadn’t really noticed or paid those symptoms much attention.
“What ultimately led to me going to the GP was that I had lost about three stone in a matter of weeks and dropped to six stone.
“When I visited my parents they thought I was anorexic, so forced me to see the doctor.
“In the weeks after I had diagnosis I was carted off to hospital because I had a nervous breakdown because of the sheer shock.
“I kept getting seizures due to hypoglycemic attacks. The fact that I didn’t die in the first few years was sheer luck.
“I started a job eight months after the diagnosis but they were asking me for proof every time I went to the doctor, it made me feel like a liar.
“It got to a point where I ran out of the office crying, so I left because they made me feel worse.
“Now though, for the most part, I think I can say I’m quite proud to wear my devices on display.”
Since 2017, Natalie has worn a Dexcom glucose monitor on her stomach and since 2018, an Omnipod insulin pump which she rotates on each of her arms every few days.
The monitor is connected to her chest via a small filament under her skin which allows her to monitor her glucose levels.
And she is determined to bust misconceptions and prove that life holds no boundaries for people with the condition.
Natalie said: “Last week someone asked what the pump was and I said ‘oh it’s an insulin pump’ and they said ‘is that from putting weight on?’
“I created it thinking it wasn’t going to be a big thing but it’s grown hugely.
“It’s gone from a garden business to now where I’m looking to manufacture and grow my company.
“I really would say diabetes doesn’t have to be barrier to anything in life.
“What makes you different makes you special and sets you apart from the crowd, so don’t stress it.”