Let Me Tell You Something…

Diabetes is not a problem of the individual. Diabetes is a problem of society.

I repeat. Diabetes is a problem of society.

Our culture has a destructively hostile attitude toward diabetes, which makes coming out of the diabetes closet scary. Imagine you looked at a list of symptoms (extreme thirst, frequent urination, lethargy), and thought “I have all of these.” In which scenario would you be more likely to seek more information?: A) the people around you believe that those with diabetes are fat and lazy, never exercise, and don’t care about their health, or B) the people around you believe diabetes doesn’t discriminate and can happen to anyone, any shape and size.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 8 million people are currently living with diabetes, but do not know it. These people are suffering with an undiagnosed and thus, untreated disease. If it were safer in our culture to be a person who lives with diabetes, how many of the 8 million would seek medical attention, be diagnosed, and recieve the treatment that would help them feel better?

Let me tell you something…

Diabetes is not a disease of the weak-willed. It is not a disease for the obese. No one with diabetes decided to not care about their health. We all care about our health. For us to think it permissible to judge the actions of such a large and diverse population on the basis of a label which we know very little about, is heiness.

We cannot keep buying into the generalizations we hear without thinking critically about the meaning behind and consequences of repeating such narratives. Our world revoles around narratives and we are not choosing ours wisely.

Let me tell you something…

No person with diabetes is to blame for their disease. No one deserves it, and despite your misinformed judgement that your loved one with diabetes “doesn’t take care of themselves,” we are doing our best to stay healthy.

Being healthy might be harder for my body than for yours. Our chemicals are different. You and I could eat the exact same meals, exercise the exact same amount, and our bodies would be different.

Don’t try and tell me you haven’t met a really skinny chick who boasts “I eat cheeseburgers all the time, I don’t even try to be skinny.” Yippie-Do-Dah for her! Her eating cheeseburgers isn’t judged by virtue of that fact that she is skinny. You might even give her props for not being one of those “I’ll have a salad” kind of girls. Isn’t that interesting (and repulsive)? You will see a skinny and not skinny person, a person without diabetes and a person with diabetes, eating the exact same meal, and one get’s props while the other is thought to be not taking care of themselves? The latter person is thought to be weak, lacking in will power, and lazy. Why?

Let me tell you something…

A symptom of high blood sugar is extreme hunger. The body’s cells cannot access the sugar in the blood. The cells in the body are starving. They send a signal to the brain, “EAT EAT EAT, WE’RE STARVING, WE’RE DYING, HELP US AND EAT.” A person who has undiagnosed diabetes is at the mercy of their starving cells. They have to eat. The problem is that, so long as they go undiagnosed, no matter how much they eat, their cells will continue to starve. Their cells will not stop asking the brain to keep eating.

Diabetes is a problem of society. The more we blame people with diabetes, the more we call them fat, lazy, and weak-willed, the longer it will take to make actual strides to stop diabetes.

Diabetes is not their problem, it is our problem.

On this day of international diabetes awareness, I want to challenge people with diabetes to consider our narratives. I want to challenge our loved ones to think critically about their judgements. And most importantly, I want to challenge everyone: turn on your fucking brain and see that the way we treat people with diabetes is harmful, unkind, misinformed, and prejudiced.

Let me tell you one last something…

We in the diabetes comunity are more than the one-dimentional characters you have decided we are. We are healthy. We do try. We just aren’t motivated to change by your slander.

Let’s all be better, shall we?