Welcome to the Daniel Williams Foundation
Dan was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes aged 18 and tried desperately hard to cope and understand the effects of living with his condition. Ultimately Dan felt he couldn't live as diabetes dictated and took his own life, he was aged just 24. Please read Dan's story, it is as tragic as it is moving.
Dan was a great kid; full of mischief and fun and so loving and loved by all that knew him. Other than the usual scrapes and childhood illnesses he was a healthy regular boy until...
In November 2007 aged just 18 he was diagnosed with diabetes. Not only was he given the news that his life would have to change forever he was told that as he was so young the condition was complex and severe.
None of us, family, friends and Dan realised how involved it was to be to care for someone with this condition. Dan struggled from the beginning, he wanted to go out with his friends, have a drink and party. In his words "I want to be normal like everyone else. I feel like a freak!". He was angry and hurting and me; I was hurting and so scared for him.
Dan found it difficult to get the right balance with his diet and insulin. His blood sugars were iither too high or too low and this inevitably led to several hospital admissions and Dan becoming more down. Eventually the condition was managed for a few months but it didn't last.
The pattern had been set for the next few years; Dan was in and out of hospital frequently. As though he was punishing himself he wouldn't eat properly or take his insulin regularly, which in turn led to the complications associated with diabetes. He developed painful neuropathy that the medics tried to manage with strong painkillers. Dan eventually became addicted to some of these too. I tried to explain to Dan that unless he began to look after himself he would develop other complications too potentially losing his sight and limbs. It didn't work. It was heartbreaking hearing my child telling me he won't reach his 40th birthday.
As he lost so much time at work due to diabetes he eventually lost his job. Dan sunk into a deep depression for over a year and as if to switch it off it was not unusual for him to sleep for 15 hours a day. My heart was breaking; none of us who cared could do anything to help him.
In March 2012 things looked up. Dan seemed to have accepted the hand he'd been dealt and began to care for himself and manage his diabetes much better. He found a good job and for a while his life was looking up, although he still needed the occasional hospital admission.
He'd been seeing a lovely girl on and off for a few years and they moved in together in March 2012, his beautiful daughter was born in July that year and for a few months Dan was well.
Gradually this positive time faded, he was in and out of hospital again and during one admission a fellow patient gave him diazepam telling Dan it will help him forget his problems. Dan became addicted to diazepam and was buying the drugs illegally, taking many tablets a day making him so out of it he couldn't manage his diabetes on his own. It was me who eventually managed to wean him from this drug but not completely.
His relationship with his partner failed and he moved back home to me in October; he began taking diazepam again and either overdosing on insulin or not taking it at all. It was as if he's pressed his self destruct button; he was in a deep depression. The community mental health team began visiting Dan at home to try and help and he had a spell in the local psychiatric hospital being involved in counselling sessions in an effort to improve his well being.
By March 2013 he was suspended from his job, his colleagues and manager knew he was over medicating and his downward spiral continued and again he was admitted to the psychiatric hospital. On his discharge from hospital he was again visited by the community team, but it didn't appear to make a lot of difference to Dan's life.
In May 2013 I found him unconscious in bed. He'd taken a huge dose of insulin the night before - he'd researched how much he'd need to take to end his life, the doctors were amazed he had survived. He had meant to die.
He had left a suicide note and a picture with another note for his precious daughter. He wrote that he wanted "P Diddy - Missing You, Celine Dion - My Heart Will Go On ,and Toy Soldiers" saying "Mum will understand why I want that, it reminds her of me.".
The saddest part is that Dan wrote - "I want people to truly remember me for who I was before I turned into this mess". I can't explain the pain I felt and still feel knowing the songs and flowers my child wanted at his own funeral.
Dan couldn't remember much of this time in hospital due to the amount of insulin in his system and after a week of recovering he was again moved to the psychiatric hospital. This didn't help; the staff there had very little knowledge of managing diabetes, particularly someone with complex needs.
It was during this admission that Dan took his own life. He was 24 years old and it was 6 years after first being diagnosed with diabetes.
The aim of writing Dan's story and the impact it has had on all our lives is to focus on the need for help that can look at the wider issues including mental health, it's not just how to give insulin and to check blood sugars. When I look back over this time and the support (or lack of it) that was available to Dan in the early days of diabetes, I strongly believe that there should be early intervention from professionals to help young people adjust to this life changing illness.
I hope that by telling Dan's story in some way it could help and perhaps prevent other people having to suffer the pain and anguish that we have endured for too many years.
For Dan, love and miss you always