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To Society: Release the Stigma

Society, we’re tired.

Dear Society,

One of the many things that constantly frustrates me about this diabetes journey is how diabetes diagnosis is considered as a deviance not only from a medical standpoint but also from you.

You seem to harbor this  common misconception that our diabetes diagnosis is a result of our behaviors and poor choices. You view diabetes as a disgrace, dishonor, shameful and a failure. Your view causes us to believe that we are entirely responsible for our conditions.

This is simply not true and unfair, but this is the stigma you have placed on us that we carry every day in numerous ways.

Many of us have been misjudged by the type of diabetes that we have. You look at our weight and body size. Automatically assuming that we’re a type 1 diabetic if we’re thin built or type 2 diabetic if we have obesity. Additionally, if some of us have obese, you blame our diabetes diagnosis is a result of our actions.

You refer to type 2 diabetes as the “less severe” disease because all we need to do is “eat healthy, take medicine and exercise,” and type 1 diabetes as the “worst type” because we have to use insulin for the rest of our lives.

It causes me to wonder if this way of thinking causes some type 2 diabetics to become dismissive of taking care of themselves because of your assumptions.

The stigma you’ve created leaves many of us battling low self-esteem, feeling fearful, embarrassed, guilty, anxious, and depressed.

We start isolating ourselves by avoiding social activities because we no longer want to be around you.

We end up poorly managing diabetes by abandoning our new lifestyle changes. We resort to skipping or not taking prescribed insulin or oral medications, making unhealthy food choices, and canceling our medical appointments because your words made us stop caring.

Some of us lie to loved ones and our medical team about our progress just to get them off of our backs because we refuse to listen to another demeaning remark or speech about the stigma that you’ve created.

Others of us keep our diagnosis a secret entirely in fear of being discriminated against in school, on our jobs or other public places.

You think you mean well when you give us unsolicited advice on how to eat, how to exercise or the proper medications to take. But instead, your advice is a hindrance to our healing.

Society, your stigmatizing has caused us immeasurable pain more than diabetes itself. Your discrimination has branded us as lazy and unhealthy. You’ve made us feel inadequate. You’ve convinced our family and friends that our quality of life is bleak. You’ve caused nations to believe that we are the major cause of the healthcare crisis. You’ve stolen our right to enjoy our lives because you’ve dehumanized us with your stigma. Yet, you are oblivious that this stigma even exists. 

We’re outraged,

We’re frustrated,

And we’re exhausted.

So, so exhausted.

If you really want to help us,

Release your demoralizing stigma about diabetes!

We’ve never asked to be diagnosed with diabetes, but yet this is the hand that has been dealt. Instead of condemning us about our diagnosis, treat us with compassion and respect. Educate yourself about diabetes and the real factors that cause it (I guarantee you, it’s not just sugar, carbohydrates and obesity). Advocate and fight for our issues. Share our stories. Accept us for who we are- real people who are just trying to navigate this chronic health journey.

Society, release your stigma and give us back our dignity.

Until Next Time,

The Genetic Diabetic

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