“She suffers from diabetes.” “His loved one suffers with diabetes” “20% of people suffer with diabetes.” “This drug will bring to an end your diabetes suffering.”
I’ve seen these kinds of words and phrases way too many times since joining the Diabetes Online Community. And I absolutely HATE reading the words ‘diabetes sufferer.’ Hate it.
Last week on Twitter, I stumbled across a post from a company marketing footcare products to people with diabetes. The post read something like “Are you type 1 or type 2? 90% of diabetes sufferers are type 2.” I had the urge to immediately respond, and gave them some ‘friendly advice’ not to use that term. And I’m happy to report that this company apologised, deleted the tweet and will hopefully take my advice on board.
My intention here is not to attack this company. Because what happened here is a mere representation of many misconceptions and uneducated assumptions about diabetes.
To use the word diabetes sufferer is an insult. It attaches a stigma to people with diabetes. A stigma that they are unhealthy. That they are hurting. That they are struggling. That they are in pain.
I don’t want people to be making those uneducated assumptions about me. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. To pity me. To think that every day is a struggle. And when these uneducated words are spread across the internet, that’s exactly what happens. People are led to make uneducated assumptions about me.
And in reality, that’s far from the truth.
I don’t consider myself a person who ‘suffers’ with diabetes. I live with diabetes. I deal with diabetes. I manage diabetes. Hell, some days I even conquer diabetes. And when I look at what I’ve achieved through this blog, I am very proud of my diabetes.
If I suffered with diabetes, I wouldn’t be able to get up and go to work every day. I wouldn’t be able to write this blog every day. I wouldn’t be able to drive my car every day. I wouldn’t be able to take my dog for a walk. There’s no way I would have completed a uni degree. And I certainly wouldn’t be planning a holiday.
Yes, diabetes does cause frustrations, which I’ve written about many times. And sadly, some experience these frustrations more than others. Some become unwell because of diabetes. And sadly, some experience complications from diabetes. But the last thing we should be doing is attaching these negative, demoralising words to people with diabetes. We need to start using words that will empower people with diabetes. Words like…
“20% of the population are living with diabetes.”
“This product will help you to manage your diabetes.”
“He is a diabetes conquerer.”
“She is a diabetes warrior.”
To me, those are far more empowering words. I can only hope that we will see them more often.