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Spreading Diabetes Awareness Isn’t as Easy as It Looks

You might not realize this, but I’m actually pretty shy. I often find myself wishing that I had my husband’s confidence. He doesn’t worry about drawing attention to himself at parties or work. He embraces the mindset that if you don’t like him, it’s your problem, not his, and he shows himself to everyone just as he is.

I often imagine how much easier my life would be if I shared those same characteristics. Instead, I tend to worry about almost everything. One thing that really makes me nervous is sharing about my diabetes. Life with diabetes makes you put yourself out there in a vulnerable state, giving others the opportunity to judge you based solely on their own (frequently wrong) interpretation of diabetes. But this is the life we were given. Should we really worry so much about what others think?

I have had type 1 diabetes for over eighteen years. I came out of hiding with it a few years ago, but, to be honest, sometimes I find that the temptation to hide is still there. Some days I have to look deep for the strength to face my diabetes with others watching. It’s hard to share so much with people I don’t know very well. I don’t enjoy taking my shots or testing my blood sugar in front of perfect strangers, but I frequently have to do it. I don’t enjoy having to inform people about my diabetes just in case I go too low to correct my own blood sugar, but I often have to do it. We’re not actors, but every day we do things that others say they “could never do,” and we do them in front of an audience.

Maybe it would be easier to share if people didn’t see diabetes as something we brought on ourselves. Many people who don’t have diabetes still think we’re cheating if we eat sugar, making dining with them both difficult and uncomfortable. Some people see multiple daily injections as a sign that we are out of control and doing something wrong. I have had to inform many people that it’s the complete opposite: My multiple daily injections are what keep me in tighter control, not the other way around.

As hard as it is on some days, I know I cannot hide. You cannot be a wallflower with diabetes. You are going to get noticed, so why not educate and spread awareness along the way? We have to let people know that this is the way we must live–there truly is no alternative. Our life isn’t normal by most people’s standards, but we are the voices of diabetes, and we need to be heard.

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