I personally never get really down because of my diabetes. I only get down because of how others are down on diabetes.
Overall, diabetes is a tough gig. I’m probably like most diabetics in that I do get frustrated about specific aspects of it. Having my blood sugar go low during sex is not fun. Remembering to have insulin, a syringe, and a roll of Lifesavers whenever I leave the house is a chore. Calculating what I eat, then feeling like crap because I’m bad at math and my blood sugar went high after a meal, makes me feel stupid. Making sure my blood sugar is balanced before I go for a run is a drag.
Thank goodness I don’t waste my time despairing over diabetes in the abstract. I know uncontrolled diabetes is a leading cause of death. I know it is a leading cause of kidney failure, blindness, heart attack and lots of other gruesome things. But, like a teenager worrying about old age, these facts don’t really intrude upon my life on a daily or debilitating basis.
The only thing that truly and consistently gets me down about diabetes is how the general public treats the condition, and in particular, those who have it. Which is to say, they tend to dismiss the disease as a simple result of lifestyle choices. They tend to blame diabetics for having diabetes, in much the same way the public tends to blame smokers for suffering from lung cancer or heart disease.
Many people tend to think that people acquire type 2 diabetes by eating too many sweets, and being overweight. While lifestyle and weight are factors behind the causes of type 2 diabetes, they are not the sole causative agents. Nor is overeating, or eating unhealthy foods, the deterministic “fault” of each and every individual who makes unwise dietary choices. The media, advertising, convenience, lifestyle dictates, and overall culture shapes the ways in which people lead their lives and make the choices they make.
Type 2 diabetes is a symptom of a sometimes ill society whose overall health could use examination and improvement.
Instead of devoting resources to understanding how these complex factors work to harm people’s health, many people find it easier to point a dismissive and judgmental finger at the diabetic, say, “It’s your fault,” and move on.
Stigmatizing people who are sick does very little to help them get better. Trying to understand the causes of diabetes from a cultural perspective, rather than from a blame perspective, can help alleviate its spread and minimize its impact on those who already have it.
That’s something I could get down with.