Fight the Stigma: How to Respond When People are Ignorant About Diabetes

This content material initially appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Lala Jackson

Every kind of diabetes is difficult. Trying to suppose like a pancreas, calculating the greater than forty various things that have an effect on blood sugar, continually feeling the burden of training individuals who simply don’t perceive—it’s quite a bit!

What makes it tougher? When individuals’s feedback get a bit out of line, both out of really not understanding or as a result of they suppose it’s humorous or not a giant deal. In these conditions, it’s not your duty to proper each fallacious remark, however right here are some concepts for how one can reply.

Them: “Do you have the bad kind of diabetes?”
“All kinds of diabetes are hard. Here’s how my personal experience has been…”

Them: “Sure, sure, but if they stopped eating so much sugar, their diabetes would go away.”
You: “It’s not that simple. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, type 2 is a complex metabolic disease, and there are other types too. Lifestyle factors can influence some things, but genetics, environment, and access to strong healthcare all matter.”

Them: “But you don’t look like you have diabetes!”
You: “That’s just because you don’t know what people with diabetes look like—we’re all ages, sizes, genders, ethnicities, races. Every type of diabetes can impact anyone.”

Them: “You can’t eat that!”
You: “I can eat anything the same way you can. Just like all humans, a healthy and balanced way of eating is a good approach, but just like you—if I want a cookie, I can eat it. I just have to make sure I know the carb count and give myself medicine for it.”

Them: “Diabetes doesn’t run in their family, no one runs in their family lol”
You: “That’s actually super ignorant and I’m frustrated you said that. Diabetes is so complex and is never anyone’s fault. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, type 2 is a complex metabolic disease, and there are other types too. Lifestyle factors can influence some things, but genetics, environment, and access to strong healthcare all matter.”

Them: “Oh you have diabetes? My grandfather lost his foot because of diabetes.”
You: “Wow, that must have been incredibly scary and sad for your family. I am sorry he had to go through that. But sharing those scary stories with me—since I live with diabetes every day and keeping myself healthy is a really complex task—isn’t super helpful for my mental health.”

Them: “Only fat people get diabetes!”
You: “Any type of diabetes can happen at any time, to anyone. Autoimmune forms of the disease happen due to a combination of genetics and environmental triggers. Metabolic forms of the disease are due to a wide variety of factors. Plenty of people with diabetes are at a healthy weight for them, and if being overweight always caused diabetes then everyone who is overweight would have diabetes, but they don’t. It just shows us how little we still understand about why diabetes happens.”

Them: “I bet you regret all that candy you ate as a kid.”
You: “Especially considering that has nothing to do with any kind of diabetes at all, I enjoyed every bit!”

Them: “Oh yeah my grandma has that, she doesn’t really take care of it though.”
You: “I’m sorry to hear that she isn’t taking care of herself. If she needs a support system or a community to talk to, she should check out Beyond Type 1 and Beyond Type 2—they offer tons of resources on all kinds of diabetes, plus they host community events so she could meet other people dealing with the same thing.”

That shady Instagram account: “We’ll show you how to reverse diabetes now!”
You: “That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.”
You, for those who’re feeling tremendous affected person: “You can’t actually reverse any kind of diabetes. Autoimmune versions of the disease like type 1 and LADA are for life, and type 2 can go into remission under certain circumstances but can’t be reversed.”

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Read extra about blood glucose/sugar, diabetes stigma, Intensive administration, Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), stigma.