Is diabetes a sensitive subject in your life?
Perhaps this is a strange question, but is Diabetes a sensitive subject in your life? If it is, why? On September 29, 2014 Richard157 started a provocative and important discussion about hiding diabetes. You can find this wonderful discussion thread at this link:
I appreciate Richard’s honesty in telling his story and the good it obviously did. He opened a discussion with our online family on this topic and more important that discussion is now one of the featured go to articles if one Google's the phrase “why hide diabetes” as I did for this blog. So our discussion has reached beyond our community.
Now one might dismiss the vigorous discussion about hiding diabetes if that was the only item returned by this search. In fact it is not. When you do a Google search for this topic, you see:
An item by NBC News on November 3, 2011: Diabetes shame plus denial a risky combo
An article published by HealthGrades July 2, 2014: Are You Hiding Your Diabetes?
This is a really a small smattering of comments, and advice about how to deal with the question of hiding diabetes.
So what are we hiding and why? The answer is of course complex and different for every Person with Diabetes. But there must be some universal reason or a root cause? And if there is can we in the greater diabetes community, help so that those who are hiding can feel comfortable discussing and acting on their disease.
The risks of hiding:
I know one of the perennial questions is when to tell others you have diabetes. But, there is a bigger risk than others knowing or knowing too soon that you are a person with diabetes, especially if you take insulin. Let’s for a minute start with the type 1 person who uses insulin. We know that we are subject to insulin induced
lows, behaving like we are intoxicated, passing out etc. Obviously this seems incentive enough to tell those around us that we may have these issues. Yet when first diagnosed, I did not tell and often we find teenagers in particular remain mute on the subject.
Then having made it beyond our teenage years, we are faced with jobs, relationships, family scrutiny, the stories of aunt jean and her diabetes and all the rest. So we sit idle do not tell others and for some reason expect that this secret which ultimately turns to shame will someday be better.
People with type 2 diabetes have what many in society regard as the self-controlled chronic disease. People act as if we wanted the disease, or could somehow lose some pounds and remove ourselves from this category. Ignoring of course that in 2012 in the US over 34% and in Canada over 24% of all residents between ages 20 and 70 are classified Overweight or Obese (Shields, Carroll, & Ogden, 2011). In other words if we are overweight or obese we are not alone. Further, of course we know that thin people also have type 2 diabetes. So yes, might losing weight help our disease condition if we are overweight or obese and have type 2 diabetes? Yes of course, improving insulin resistance is one of the main treatments for type 2 diabetes. But does that mean we caused the disease? No of course not. According to the ("National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014,") about 9.5% of the population has diabetes. One can see the obvious disconnect. If weight were the sole determinate of who has diabetes than our national incidence of diabetes would be well above our current rates.
So, what to do? One might suggest nothing is a viable option. I suggest otherwise. We need to out diabetes both for ourselves and future generations. Are you willing to out diabetes? Stigma is terrible thing. We perpetuate these stigmas when we try to hide diabetes. So how remove the stigma? There is an easy answer, do not allow diabetes to be a sensitive subject in your life. I hope you will embrace your disease, like I embrace Heart Disease, Arthritis, Depression and all the other junk. I never said like it, I said embrace it. I agree diabetes is not who we are, but it is what we have and like mental health issues, or health disease, or cancer, we can tell our story, I urge you no matter your place in life, to tell yours. Trust me when you do, many people will be listening, not to judge but too learn. And learning is good for all of us.
National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014. (2014). Retrieved December 3, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/statsreport14/national-diabetes-report-web.pdf
Shields, M., Carroll, M. D., & Ogden, C. (2011). Adult Obesity Prevalence in Canada and the United States. Washington: Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db56.pdf.