Bullies and Diabetes

Hey everyone this might sound cheesy but its true, i get bullied a lot for having diabetes. There are about 5 other diabetics in my school, all of them are older than me. For them, they get treated normally and they're respected. Me on the other hand, people think diabetes is horrible, that im obese (which im not) and that it's an excuse for everything. When my pump beeps in class, everyone gives me a dirty look. I just need some help on what to do about this.

I’m so sorry this is happening to you! I hope I can give you a little advice that might help. First, you need to express to your guidance counselor, or even the school nurse, how others are making you feel.

If it were me–and it’s not, but this is my personality-- I’d ask a teacher if we could do a Q&A session about what it means to have diabetes. This would set the record straight-- especially since you have T1-- because most people are only even halfway educated about Type 2, much less type 1. If nothing else, you could ask the nurse or health teacher to do a mini lesson on type 1 diabetes, or at least the differences between the two types.

But I think the most important aspect is that an adult at your school knows what you’re going through.

I hope this helped, even just a little! Feel free to ask me for any other advice! - CJ

I agree with CJ.
Tell your school psychologist/counselor and nurse what is occurring and how you feel. Please tell your parents as well. Often we show indifference to people, conditions and situations simply because we do not understand. In this regard, others begin to speculate and show indignation. Maybe find an opportunity to have some sort of a "show and tell" in your class...Educate what type 1 diabetes is...what a pump does and how vital it is for your condition. Furthermore, emphasize that people with diabetes can live a normal, healthy, happy lives.
So sorry you have to go through this...Hugs

I'd agree with "people" that diabetes is horrible but it's *more* horrible that people are using it against you. I am pretty oblivious to what anyone thinks about diabetes, and have been since the mid-1980s when I first started dealing with it. It may have helped that I ran with sort of a wild crowd, so people were passing out all the time anyway (booze mostly...) and me passing out wasn't that much different.

I always leave my pump on vibrate although sometimes, e.g. running w/ iPod, I don't perceive the vibration and a song will end and I hear the pump going *squeeeeeeel* really loudly. Maybe that's an alternative that you can use to turn it down? Or, if you don't want to, you can sort of ignore the people. I have always found it easier to talk about diabetes than to try and hide it.

If the people are being mean, I would be sort of inclined to be mean back. I can be very rude, as I was into 1980s LA punk rock when I was in high school and sort of am more inclined to mouth off to people who are being @$$#0!&$ as to let them do stuff. I think that maybe schools are stricter now but maybe d/l Black Flag's Damaged album or some stuff by Fugazi and listen to what they're singing about. My daughter is 14 and perhaps is embarrassed by having a dad who's all rah rah and confrontational about stuff but, when the chips are down, she knows I'm there for her and I'm always willing to get up in anyone's grill who gives me any crap about diabetes. And, if you need backup, it's pretty much illegal for people to discriminate against you and don't hesitate to notify the powers that be, whoever's in charge at the school. I dunno if this helps but I have a ton of pent up $#!+ from diabetes and will readily unload it on anyone who tries bugging me about it.

Another thing that helped me a lot, although it was after I was older, was studying Tae Kwon Do. The place I went was very much oriented towards the philosophical side of things, taking responsibility for yourself and working to make yourself stronger. It was a big change for me to do what I did when I was doing it but I found it really useful for managing diabetes too. Maybe try it out? Good luck!!

I am so sorry about how this is working out. Definitely see your school counselor, or principal they will want to knwo this and will want to work something out. This can be worked out, if the adults know it. Also know that as you grow older this will be much less of an issue.

Good luck!!

Im really sorry about this. It really makes me feel bad hearing things like this. Can you please talk to your teacher, school nurse, principal, or counselor. I know at our school they would definitely get involved if they heard something like this going on. There is no tolerance for this kind of thing. There is no reason to keep suffering something has to be done and possibly the nurse can go into the classroom and explain about the pump.

Hi Cat:

There is no place for this kind of behavior and I'm so sorry it's happening to you. I would echo what others are saying here: escalate this to your teachers, counselors, parents. Also, there is so much ignorance about this disease. This is also an opportunity to educate your classmates about it. See if you can get your school nurse to assist you in delivering a presentation on T1, or maybe your nurse can help you find an expert to come speak to your class.

Don't worry, however, it gets better and it makes you stronger. I have a similar approach to acidrock - people learned very quickly not to pity or criticize me, as I have no issue confronting it head on. If they're curious, however, I try to make all the time in the world politely explaining and educating.

Good luck!

I almost hat to say this, but when I was younger, I got teased too,
When I jumped on the one kid who teased me the most, it totally ended. I don't want you to do that of course, but know that you should not just take it, make bullies worry what will happen to them. You only need to make it more difficult to be picked on.
My daughter dealt with that issue, by embarrassing a bully in her 3rd grade class.
She would shout at the top of her lungs. "STOP TRYING TO BULLY ME BEFORE THE TEACHER HEARS YOU" It sort of takes away the "telling on" the other kid, but the kid knows what happens when she acts out.Just find a way to make it unpleasant to pick on you.

Hello Cat J:

In time your awareness, your perceptions may change. High school is a strange, and unpleasant time for most of us, and our diabetes is only one part of that equation. Its just an awkward time...

Goto your guidance counselor and let them know what's happening, what you perceive. If you are right, they will be able to help... if you are mistaken (a possibility?) it will still be on their radar, a backup precaution.

Reach out to the 5 diabetics in your school, today, right now. Let them know what's happening, how you see things. There is not a single one who won't understand, and yes back you up, if you need it. Tell them, and let them help you.

We may be in theater, geeks, popular kids (or not), we can be lots of things, but we are ALSO diabetic. We know what that means, and protect each other...

What other ways are you drawing attention...? How else are you feeling bullied?

Hello Rick:

I'm not so sure it'll "happen less" as much as she wont care what others think or believe? The whole being comfortable in our own skin idea...



I have very little information about your situation but would only offer the following. Kids get bullied about everything. EVERYTHING! I have big feet. I was absolutely abused because of it in high school. I also wore thick glasses. Again, more abuse. Our family didn't have much money so I couldn't afford the "right" jeans to buy. More abuse.

My point is, don't think any less of yourself because you are getting bullied over diabetes. If it weren't diabetes, they would bully you about something else. That's just what kids do.

This is a bit of a cliche but it's true (and it took me well past college to really internalize it) - "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" (Eleanor Roosevelt).

Good luck!