Monday, 21 March 2016

Are we brave? How do we get people to take us seriously?

There was a conversation happening on Twitter on Sunday, and the general consensus was about how do we convey that diabetes is serious and isn't a joke, with out sounding like you're winging about it or with out sounding like everyone should turn around and say "wow you're so inspiring" because to those of us with diabetes, it's ordinary life. There isn't a choice for us in whether or not we decide to have to look after our diabetes, we haven't got a choice but to give ourselves insulin, otherwise we would die, so we wake up every day and go through the same routine, get out of bed, check blood sugar, give insulin, eat breakfast and so on. It becomes a subconscious routine, and I'll never forget what the nurse at the hospital told me the day I was diagnosed, she said, "One day, your diabetes will be as routine as brushing your teeth."

Most of us diabetics don't think we're brave, or inspiring, to us, we're pretty ordinary. What I will say though is that diabetes is tough, it's not easy and I think that what people on the outside looking in find commendable about those with diabetes is probably the fact that we DO get on with it. I don't question it, I don't think I've ever questioned why me, why did I get diabetes? Maybe as a joke when I say I pulled the short straw in comparison to my sister, wear glasses, got diabetes, weigh more, not as pretty (ha). Now this is where things get a bit tricky, because we do complain about it and we have the right to, it's annoying and it's irritating and there is no doubt about it that it's serious and can make you very unwell, but the question amongst those of us conversing about this subject on Twitter basically was, "How do we convey to other people how serious diabetes is, without coming across as whining about it?" There is a fine line between "Look at me, I'm so inspirational because diabetes is serious" and "I don't want to be labelled an inspiration, diabetes isn't that bad" and it just gets tricky, and I feel like a lot of people will downplay it just to avoid any unnecessary attention and I reckon that is where a lot of people can get the wrong end of the stick.

I wouldn't downplay diabetes, I would probably be the first person to jump on my high horse about it if someone made even the slightest suggestion about diabetes not being serious. Then it made us wonder, "well, where do the misconceptions come from?" I think that Type 1 Diabetics totally do themselves a disservice by contributing to the stigma against Type 2 Diabetics. The media is the biggest problem in terms of diabetes awareness, almost always reporting the wrong stuff. The Type 1 Diabetics out there who say "You caused your Type 2 from a bad diet" are not helping their own cause. In fact, Type 1 and Type 2 are no more deserving of sympathy than one another, because Type 2 diabetics may well be experiencing hardship that Type 1 diabetics don't understand, for example, those Type 2 diabetics who aren't on insulin have to be super careful with what they eat to avoid that spike, they can't take insulin to correct whatever high blood sugar may occur as a result of just eating. As long as the media is there to report the wrong things, and as long as Wilford Brimley is out there talking about his "diabeetus" us Type 1's don't really have much hope! I sometimes think we need to start with debunking Type 2 myths. All the jokes, and the idea that diabetes isn't serious and funny, all stem from Type 2 diabetes myths, and us as Type 1's are lumped together with Type 2 under the umbrella term "diabetes" and most people don't really truly understand either type!

I feel like I've gone on a little bit of a tangent here. I also feel like I've totally lost my original point, so I'm not even going to try and summarise it for you here. Hopefully you get my vibe!



  1. I am definitely not brave. I just like to be human and try my best to be a husband and father. Like I tell folks I had enough on my plate with diabetes, heck brave is for the birds. or bees or something. I will take no diabetes if it is alright with others.

    I included your blog on the March 21, 2016 blog page of TUDiabetes.

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