…Not the love for the needles, insulin injections, finger sticks, and blood.
But love as in compassion, empathy, and understanding for those battling diabetes.
Society has made diabetes such a shameful word. While patients with heart disease and cancer are showered with sympathy and compassion, people with diabetes are often criticized and mocked for assuming they caused it themselves.
The negative perception has a profound effect on how those living with diabetes are able to manage. The misconception that eating too much sugar causes Type 1 Diabetes (an autoimmune disease), contributes to many cases of misdiagnosis and sometimes even death.
Even the fact that Type 2 Diabetes (insulin resistance) can be contributed by eating unhealthy, excessive weight, and inactivity; that’s not always the case. Genetics can also play a role in Type 2 Diabetes, and even significant lifestyle changes may not always help manage the disease.
Diabetes has become a “shame and blame” game. It’s easier to place the blame, feed into what the media says, and make jokes. Leaving those living with diabetes to feel ashamed of their own disease.
But it’s very difficult to overcome the stereotypes with this disease.
For instance, I spent much of my childhood struggling with the fact that I had Type 1 diabetes. I went to school and I felt embarrassed by having a disease others didn’t understand and made fun of.
I wouldn’t check my blood sugar or take needle injections in public. I would get stared at and was teased for taking “drugs” when this drug (insulin) was the only thing keeping me alive.
Years later I started informing more and more people I met about my disease. For many, I hear it was the first time they have ever heard of Type 1 Diabetes. Many also assumed that eating too much sugar caused my diabetes. But I kept pressing because I starting realizing that knowledge is power.
It never occurs to people that diabetes can happen to anyone, at any age. That diabetes can happen even if you eat healthy and exercise. Most of the world isn’t informed on how life-threatening and deadly this disease is. I’m lucky I’m here today, and thankful I was diagnosed in time. I for one didn’t know what diabetes was before I was diagnosed either.
Now reflecting on this issue after a decade, I realize that the stigma hasn’t changed.
I’ve spoken with many in the diabetes community. Half are against the jokes and understand the dangerous repercussions. While the other half feel it’s important to not let what others say get to you. That even if we push, nobody will understand the disease anyways.
But I believe if we’re going to fight everyday, we should fight to make our life and other lives better in any way. The more people know… the more research being done… the more money being raised… the more access to devices and resources… the more awareness being spread about the issues and struggles many go through everyday.
We fight a battle that many don’t understand… but why do we have to fight it alone?
If we don’t push… how is anything going to change?
The stigma has to end.
Where is the love for diabetes?