The word “victim” never entered my vocabulary when it came to my life with diabetes. Why would it? Sure, it isn’t great luck that I developed type 2 but, other than genetics, no one “gave” it to me, so how am I a victim? Well, yesterday the light bulb finally went on over my head. You see, yet again, there was an uproar in the diabetes online community revolving around a “joke” that inferred that soda causes diabetes; that sugar causes diabetes. Immediately, the type 1 community was up in arms defending their disease, including a high profile singer who has type 1. I don’t blame them at all! The “joke” was insulting, wrong and does nothing but perpetuate harmful myths about diabetes. The perpetrator of this kerfuffle was quick to point out that they weren’t referring to type 1, only type 2. That just made it worse. Due to the high profile singer, the story was picked up by several news channels and magazines. When the difference between types was discussed, video of overweight Americans were shown to indicate type 2. <sarcasm> You see, apparently, only fat, lazy people develop type 2. They are the ones who are guzzling soda and should stop. </sarcasm>
I can’t tell you how tired I am of trying to stop the hurtful, always inaccurate myths surrounding type 2 diabetes. It’s like canoeing upstream without a paddle. It feels like David against Goliath without a stone. It’s akin to removing a snow drift with a spoon. It’s nearly impossible. I’m not here to bust any myths. I’m not here to correct the inaccuracies. I’m here to tell you that you need to stop being a victim.
The stigma that is attached to type 2 diabetes is doing huge amounts of harm in our community. We are made to feel as if we did this to ourselves (we didn’t). We are told that we just need a little self-control, to stop eating junk, and we’ll be cured (bunk). Those types of mainstream thoughts not only keep people from making donations to diabetes research funds but it makes those of us with this disease feel awful; feel less-than; feel guilty. People who feel that way may be less likely to take proper care of themselves. Why bother? It’s my fault, right?
Stigma is bullying. Cowards who hide behind their computer screens and sling ugly comments to people who are struggling with a disease that they didn’t ask for, are bullies. No better than the mean kids on the playground. They must be stopped. As a mother, I’ve had some experience with bullies picking on my son. I found that when they were confronted, they backed down. Calling them out worked, although there was quite a bit of fear on my son’s part, I’m sure. He learned a valuable lesson though: don’t be a victim.
My plea to you is this: Don’t be a victim. Don’t give the bullies power over you. Do what you can to show the world that, even though you have diabetes, it doesn’t have you. Don’t let the naysayers keep you from doing what you need to do to live a healthy life. We may have a hard time busting those myths but that doesn’t mean we have to stop trying. What we can do, and should, is defend ourselves and not hide. No one should have to apologize because they have a serious condition. Everyone deserves kindness and compassion when they are dealing with diabetes of any type. Speak up and speak loudly about what living with type 2 diabetes is really like. Arm yourself with a few myth-busting truths you can pull out and use when someone tries to bully you or any PWDT2. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t let them win. I don’t know about you but I refuse to be a victim.