Charlie Granby

Photographer & writer

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the exhibition

injecting life

In March last year I was invited to be apart of an exhibition called ‘Speak Your Mind’ the focus being mental health. After planning my idea, and on the week I was meant to begin shooting, my health declined rapidly after being ill for quite some time. I was given two days to live and a life long diagnosis. Despite this, I still wanted to be involved, and rather than pull out, I changed my idea; the show was going to be on April 29th 2019, life turned upside down on April 4th 2019.

All these shots were taken on my iPhone, from my bed in the days/weeks after I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I was inspired by my sudden life change of now being T1D and felt I needed an outlet. Looking back, it feels both strange but also right that I did that. When you are faced with an imminent threat to your life, your brain reacts in many different ways.

The idea initially came from how smothered I felt; a sudden loss of independence, bed-bound at my parents' house at the age of 23, now faced with what felt (and sometimes still feels like) a death sentence. As time progressed and I had a little more strength to move from my bed to my cupboard and back again, I started experimenting with the flowers.

The insulin I inject keeps me alive, my body can no longer produce it naturally so I have taken on the role of manually doing it myself. Without it, I will die in a very short space of time- days, like a flower without water. It’s quick, and actually quite horrific; your body eats itself and you bleed out/ vomit yourself to death.

Each injection site leaves scars, lumps from insulin build-up, bruises. I bleed if I hit a vein, sometimes a bit, sometimes it spurts everywhere. It is a disease that is relentless and unforgiving, but equally how incredible that by injecting this clear liquid into my body, I am alive. Despite everything, I am alive.

The flowers represent both the life I’m being given, but also they are a sign of progress and process. Progress that I’m keeping myself alive every day, and the process that I am taking to battle this in my brain 24/7. In many ways, the flowers also represent the beauty in life. There’s always light in the darkness, no matter how overshadowed and smothered you may feel. I feel over the past 11 months I have been at the absolute depths of places in my mind I never thought I could get to, and I’m still fighting, still injecting, all for this pretty amazing thing called life.

No one can ever really prepare you or be prepared for life with a chronic illness. With T1 every single day is a literal fight to stay alive and it’s not to be taken lightly. It is exhausting. But we go on.