I answered a few questions for a video project recently and wanted to get my thoughts out in written format.
The first question was if I had ever felt guilty about having diabetes. Personally, I have never felt guilty about having diabetes but I have felt guilty about other things such as not eating right, not checking my blood sugars often enough, or skipping exercise.
The way I’ve dealt with this is to first recognize that I’m not perfect and second of all be brutally honest with myself about my efforts. For me, guilt comes from not doing what I know I’m capable of. So since I don’t make insulin, I don’t feel guilty about having diabetes, but I certainly try to be aware of what I’m doing in order to get what I want such as good health or great blood sugars. If I feel guilty about how I’m eating, it’s usually because I know I could be doing better. I view guilt as a sign that helps point me in the right direction. And since I’m not a fan of guilt, I use it as a pointer and then banish it for productivity and dignity purposes.
I find that making a plan of action and setting goals is a really great way of diminishing guilt. Once we are on a path towards our goals, we feel empowered and we know we’re working hard and then there is no room or place for guilt.
I have been treated differently in the past for having diabetes. It’s understandable because of how most people have a certain level of ignorance about diabetes. So I find education is key. And when it’s not appropriate to lecture or teach someone about diabetes, I just smile and feel confident knowing that most people don’t mean to offend and those who do aren’t worth my time. Walking around angry about the public’s ignorance about diabetes is immature. I mean, are we saying everyone needs to know the ins and outs of our condition when we don’t know the ins and outs of hundreds of other conditions? Yikes.
For those who don’t have diabetes, I do have a suggestion. I’d suggest that they simply not assume when it comes to anything about anyone else and be open to learning, instead. The great thing about this is it should work on just about anything!
The best tool I’ve found for handling misconceptions out there about diabetes is to put all my energy and focus on living my best life because I’ve found that when I do that, I look and feel better and that speaks volumes to people and sets them straight often before I open my mouth to correct them.
Many people feel that type 1 diabetes is easy and all about just taking insulin. It’s been very empowering for me to write a blog that family and friends read because it’s allowed them to learn more about what diabetes is really like to live with, without being lectured.
So all in all I’d say that leading and teaching others by example and focusing on ourselves is a great way to fight stereotypes and misconceptions out there. Placing much of our energy outside of ourselves is a bit of a waste, in my opinion. And very importantly, I’d say that it’s important to decide that no one is going to make you feel bad about having diabetes. If they get to you it may be that you have some feelings of your own to work through and if that’s the case, work through them. My philosophy is to take responsibility for our own feelings and actions.
I like being in a place where guilt doesn’t weigh me down and other people have little power over me. I think we all deserve that.