Have you heard these phrases before?
“But you don’t look like a diabetic” (and what exactly would a diabetic look LIKE??)
“Can you eat that?” (well can YOU, or more to the point SHOULD you?)
“Oh you must have the bad diabetes” (Is there a GOOD kind???)
“Oh you are being very naughty having that cake/biscuit/chocolate/treat” (what would YOU know?)
“If you just ate better and lost weight your diabetes would go away” ( I WISH)……
And one of THE dumbest things I have ever seen on social media, is the use of the #diabetes for all sorts of hilarity such as #sugarrush #diabetes when people consume large plates of cakes, as if to say “I am headed for diabetes now” like it was a joke…well it is NO joke. You know that, I know that. All the people who are suffering day in day out, losing sleep, feeling sad, filled with worry about their future, exhausted and scared. I would love to get those people using hashtag diabetes for their fun and show them a week or so in our shoes. Or even better, the shoes of a parent of a young child living with type 1 diabetes, who sits up at night to make sure their child will wake in the morning, who has to chase them to eat when they are naturally ignoring food as a busy toddler, filled with anxiety about their blood glucose levels and desperate for a cure before their child develops one of the horrible complications of diabetes.
Yes diabetes is no joke.
These are all genuine comments above, that people with diabetes get from those without diabetes, time and time again. You would think with all the media attention on diabetes, that people would know better. But herein lies the problem, the media is often misinformed, uninformed and just downright wrong, when it comes to diabetes, and no wonder.
We used to have it sorted, there was Insulin Dependent Diabetes or IDDM and Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes or NIDDM. So you either were on insulin (the REALLY BAD diabetes) or you weren’t (the diabetes that was all your own fault and happened to old people), well that is what the general consensus was, even though we know better.
We also now know that diabetes is much more complex. We have type 1 and type 2, but we also have gestational (arguably just the start of type 2 diabetes in some women and the natural insulin resistance of pregnancy in others); type 1.5 or LADA which is an autoimmune form of type 1 diabetes in adults, and a range of other less common forms and reasons for the pancreas going on the blink.
We also know that age is no barrier in deciding which type you have – kids are sadly getting type 2 and adults can get type 1. Further, all forms of diabetes are on the increase, suggesting that environment has a part to play in all forms – not just type 2.
People working in diabetes get confused and people living with diabetes are confused, so no wonder the media and general person in the street do not understand diabetes in all its forms. Education is vital and something we as people living with diabetes, can offer to the world.
Guilt is not helpful so don’t accept it when offered – you know what is ok to do in your own life and you can choose to live and to manage your diabetes however you wish. It is something we can do, advocate for ourselves and each other.
So next time someone asks “Can you eat that?” – instead of getting angry or defensive, say “well yes actually people with diabetes can eat anything you know” and give them some information – tell them “you never know” they may end up as one of those diabetic statistics themselves one day – as after all diabetes (surprise surprise) is not choosy in who it decides to visit….
Have you had misinformed comments directed at you about your diabetes and how did you handle it?