To Disclose, Or Not to Disclose Diabetes?

Most of the people in my life know that I have diabetes. Although, I think a lot of them forget that I have diabetes because I don’t really talk about it much. I’ll bring it up from time to time, and I’ll get those “oh yeah, that’s right!” exclamations. Then there are those people who offer me way too much food to remember that I have diabetes (and shouldn’t be snacking on chocolate at 8am in the morning!). And then there’ll be those conversations where I’ll be like “how did you know that I had diabetes?” Fun fact: Italian families live to talk about people that they know.

Generally, those who know me well are aware that I have diabetes. I’m happy to talk diabetes with those people who take an interest, but I also realise that some people aren’t interested in hearing me go on about it – and that’s cool with me too! As for strangers, I don’t think it’s necessary to disclose diabetes to everyone I meet. I generally keep my diabetes disclosure on a need-to-know basis with acquaintances, or until I feel I can trust them enough.

My uncle once disclosed diabetes for me in front of one of his friends. Although I had no control over this situation, it’s reminded me of why I’m selective about disclosure ever since. I didn’t know this person very well, but I’ve always found him to be a little weird. I’ve never felt comfortable around him, and he clearly wouldn’t be able to handle that conversation very well (he didn’t). There were lots of insensitive questions and weird looks the whole time. And it made me feel stupid.

The first thing I think about before disclosing my diabetes is how it will affect me. There are a lot of stigmas out there about people with diabetes, and the last thing that I want is for people to think lesser of me. So I think you’ll understand why you’ll never hear me say “I have diabetes, but I hope you will consider me for this job.” And most of the time, I want to be treated just like everyone else. I want to have that piece of cake. I want to do what everyone else is doing. It gives me a feeling of normality. And when you have diabetes, you need as much normality as you can get.

Secondly, a diabetes disclosure inevitably comes with questions. Stupid questions. Like “did you get diabetes because you ate too much sugar?” Or “you can’t eat that, right?” Or “my cousin’s-wife’s-mother has diabetes and she’s found the cinnamon cure!”  There are days where I honestly just can’t be bothered talking about diabetes, or tackling those stupid questions. So sometimes it might be best to save disclosure for a sunnier day.

Thankfully in the online world, disclosure is much easier. Everyone who I interact with in the DOC has diabetes and just “gets” it. I love not having to tackle those stupid questions. I love being able to share my weak moments and know that there will be no judgement or adverse consequences. And I love that there is a never ending source of inspiration, support and #dlove. And that’s refreshing.

Want to chat about more awesome topics like this one? Join the Oz Diabetes Online Community Tonight from 8.30pm AEST (GMT+10) for our weekly chat by following the #OzDOC hashtag on Twitter.

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