Diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 46, Chris Spence hasn't let the chronic disease stop him from farming, fishing and running Norton Estate Wines.
After experiencing blurry vision and developing a thirst he couldn't quench, he was diagnosed with late-onset type 1 diabetes.
"All of a sudden you are thrown into a world where you are counting carbohydrates and reassessing what you put in your mouth," Mr Spence said.
"Most of us country fellas just love to go down to the local bakery and grab a pie with sauce."
This year Diabetes Australia is running the Heads Up campaign for National Diabetes Week from the 12 - 18 July, highlighting the mental and emotional health impact of living with diabetes.
Mr Spence said a lot of people diagnosed with diabetes suffer depression through the stress of not knowing what's in front of them.
"I watched my dad go through type 2 diabetes and he did not manage it well," Mr Spence said.
"I saw him go through a lot of things he shouldn't have been experiencing ... I didn't want that for myself."
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition; the immune system is activated to destroy the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. There is no cure and it cannot be prevented.
"It has been a very steep learning curve trying to constantly monitor my blood sugar levels," Mr Spence said.
"Being type 1 you're insulin dependent - for every meal you have to give yourself rapid-acting insulin. It can be very dangerous and fatal if you don't jump onto your sugar lows quickly.
"But if you can keep yourself fit and healthy there is no reason you can't live a normal healthy life."
Mr Spence uses the FreeStyle Libre system which is designed to monitor glucose levels without routine pricks and tests continuously.
"The constant monitoring of blood sugar in the earlier days was a real drag. I had to carry test meters, fingerprint tools and test strips," Mr Spence said.
"It has been a huge relief to have instant advice from a sensor. I am a fanatical fisherman and work on a farm, so I can be very isolated at times."
For people living with diabetes, there is currently no evidence that they are at an increased risk of being infected with COVID-19.
"I was given medical advice to self-isolate as much as possible," Mr Spence said.
"I have to be cautious because my immune system is vulnerable."
Wimmera Health Care Group diabetes educator Lisa Hobbs said it was important to raise awareness on the link between diabetes and mental health.
Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia; increasing at a faster rate than other chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
"Distress is an expected reaction to someone living with diabetes and the relentless aspect of having to make decisions about their diabetes 24/7," Mrs Hobbs said.
"Our role is to make sure we are identifying and communicating with people that are experiencing stress and providing them with the appropriate services."
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