A Whanganui woman who has been taking insulin for 72 years has begun to document her experience of living with diabetes.
November is Diabetes Action Month in New Zealand, with a theme of Love Don't Judge.
A total of 250,000 people in New Zealand are currently living with the disease.
Whanganui resident Jill Clarke was diagnosed when she was 5 years old and the last time she was hospitalised for "diabetic reasons" was when she was 13 years old.
"I've been on insulin for 72 years now, which is quite a major feat," Clarke said.
"Back in those early days people didn't know too much about it [diabetes]. As a kid you don't have an understanding of some situations, but I can look back now and think that the things that hurt or were a bit frightening were for my good.
"I only knew one other child with diabetes, that was at Whanganui Intermediate. Apart from that I didn't know anyone else who had it, so I felt sort of different."
Health psychologist Dr Anna Friis said research from Diabetes NZ found that 69 per cent of New Zealanders living with diabetes have experienced diabetes burnout.
"This is where the day-to-day emotional stress and burden of caring for one's diabetes becomes overwhelming, with people sometimes feeling unable to keep going with their self-management regimes," Friis said.
"This is concerning in terms of the flow-on effects on physical health."
Clarke said the best thing someone with diabetes-related stress could do was to "talk about it".
"I have suffered from burnout myself, and I could have had help if I'd asked for it. It wasn't until I came back to Whanganui 11 years ago that I actually went and saw a counsellor.
"I keep well because I keep it up, and I feel sorry for people who come to a stage in life when they say 'I'm not going to do this anymore'. From there they will end up extremely ill."
In October, over 1000 Kiwis with type 1 and type 2 diabetes took part in the Diabetes & Emotional Health survey, the first time the emotional burden of diabetes has been surveyed in New Zealand.
This new research from Diabetes New Zealand found that 81 per cent of Kiwis living with diabetes have experienced diabetes distress, with almost a third of that number experiencing it in the last week.
Diabetes NZ CEO Heather Verry said negative attitudes and a lack of understanding of diabetes were "a big factor" in the emotional wellbeing of people living with diabetes.
"There is so much misinformation out there that many people with diabetes keep their condition a secret," Verry said.
"If we can't tell people about diabetes for fear of prejudice and stigma, how are we going to get support for the huge emotional burden people living with diabetes are facing?"
Our Love Don't Judge mantra is more than just expressing kindness. Understanding and supporting people living with diabetes is something everyone can do and that will have a significant impact on their emotional and mental health."
Clarke, who injects insulin five times a day, estimated she'd had "millions" of injections over the years.
"My faith in God has kept me going. I believe in prayer, but God doesn't always answer the way you want him to.
"Everybody is different, and it's up to you to keep on top of things."
To learn more about diabetes, Diabetes Action Month or to view Diabetes NZ's new downloadable resource on diabetes distress, visit www.diabetes.org.nz.
To find out if you are at risk of diabetes, visit www.diabetes.org.nz/are-you-at-risk-1.