Diabetes is an extremely isolating condition to live with. I think I’ve dealt with that isolation quite well over the past couple of years, both by building good support networks around me and simply acknowledging that it exists. Diabetes is not normal, and I feel more normal just by saying that out loud.
But there’s still something about this time of year, where that isolation feels a little greater.
It’s hard being surrounded by loved ones who don’t have diabetes, or don’t seem to care about diabetes, at this time of the year. Watching others being all merry and carefree and sometimes living like there’s no tomorrow, can make that isolation feel somewhat greater.
Hey, that’s fine. I don’t expect extended family members who I see a few times a year to remember about diabetes. I don’t expect, nor do I want special treatment just because I have diabetes.
But I also find it extremely insulting to be asked about diabetes the minute I’m sitting down with my helping of dessert.
“How do you manage sweets with your diabetes?”
“Do you have to be careful?”
“It’s not too much sugar?”
I manage my diabetes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. 366 in a leap year. Diabetes extends far beyond dessert time. It extends into my nights. Into my weekends. Into my physical activity. Into my work. Even into my sleep. Misconceptions like these do me a great injustice.
As someone who actually has to live with this condition every day for the rest of his life, it’s ludicrous to suggest that I don’t know what’s best for me. Or that I would, you know, be tipping poison into my mouth if I knew it would kill me.
I don’t think anyone takes pleasure in inflicting feelings of guilt and shame, and yet ill timed comments like these do just that. In fact, feelings of guilt and shame can spiral even further into anxiety, depression and even disordered eating.
So if you are planning on seeing a loved one with diabetes during this festive season, here’s a better way that you can support them and help reduce those feelings of isolation.
Check in. Say hi. Ask them how they’re doing. Genuinely, and not just in passing. Show them that you care. Ask us about day to day life with diabetes, because hell, it’s a bloody big part of our lives!
However when it comes to dessert time, the only question a person with diabetes should be asked is how delicious it is.
While I’m at it, check out these pearls of wisdom on best supporting a loved one with diabetes from My Therapy App!