"I thought I was dying" - that is the stark message from a brave Hungerford man who has opened up about living with type 1 diabetes in the hope of helping others with the condition.

Olly Staines, from Hungerford, received the diagnosis 'out of the blue' when he was 17 and says it has taken him years to come to terms with it.  

The graduate has recently taken on a volunteering role with Diabetes UK as a mentor - and is spearheading a campaign to tackle the feelings of isolation that often surround young people suffering from it.  

Speaking to the Chronicle, Olly said: “It can be very isolating for young people, and a lot of young people may not know anyone else who has type 1."

Reflecting on his own experience, he said: "It was completely out of the blue no one in my family had it and I didn’t really understand what it involved.

“It’s definitely been a journey. A lot of type 1s will say that when they got diagnosed, they had no idea what was to come. The novelty of it wears off after a while.”

Mr Staines said that when he realised that his condition would be for life, he initially felt very overwhelmed.

Olly said: "Living with type one has taken me to some dark places. At the end of summer 2022, I thought that I was dying on a beach in Greece. As a result, during the past eighteen months and my last year of university, I had daily experiences of reliving this trauma. I lost the language to communicate what was happening within the landscape of my body and mind.

"I lived under a crushing feeling of fear for my future and felt this fear as a knot in my chest, making it hard to breathe. When I started to dissociate I self-referred to talking therapies and was lucky to quickly receive NHS health anxiety therapy."

Luckily through a combination of therapy, yoga and meditation, Olly now feels he has made peace with his diagnosis - and is proudly heading up Diabetes UK's Together Type 1 programme which connects young people living with type 1 diabetes to make them feel less alone.


“A lot of type 1s find the responsibility of that just very overwhelming. I think through Together Type 1 we’re trying to get type 1s to feel empowered and that they can manage their condition," he said. 

Olly said that due to managing the condition constantly, spontaneity is something that isn’t really doable for someone living with type 1 - which can be tricky for those heading off to university or moving away from home for the first time.

"The 23-year-old continued: “A lot of type 1s when they go to university find it very tough. Loads of alcohol, eating maybe not the healthiest stuff, socialising with people that may not necessarily understand your condition."

Type 1 diabetes is caused when your pancreas doesn't make insulin or makes very little insulin. It means that the person affected has to constantly monitor their blood sugar to maintain a normal healthy level and regularly inject themselves with insulin during mealtimes.  

In 2019, there were an estimated 36,000 children in the UK with diabetes under the age of 19, up from 31,500 in 2015.

Olly said his message to any young people living in Berkshire or beyond with type 1 diabetes is to reach out and get in touch.

He said: “The overall message that we want to put out there is that it is manageable and any type 1 that is struggling should reach out.

He added: “I really do believe that it massively impacts mental health and it’s so important that type 1s really address how they feel and get the help that they need.”

Olly has written a blog about his journey where he opens up about what it is like to be responsible for keeping himself alive every day - and how that impacts his mental health. 

You can read more here: The job that is type 1 | Diabetes UK