Remember when you were younger and your parents used to say, “Treat people how you want to be treated”? I think that same principle applies when dealing with and discussing people’s health.
Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say things to people, because it could have an everlasting effect on their lives. Having a disease like type 2 diabetes is not an easy task to overcome or manage.
During your time as someone who has diabetes, you’ll go through different stages, and you’ll learn how to cope with and manage it. Oftentimes, we beat ourselves up when we have bad days or eat more than we should’ve. We feel bad enough on our own when we make a mistake.
What happens when you learn you have diabetes and finally feel comfortable about sharing it with your family and friends? It seems like everyone is an expert, and not the good kind! When you share a health ailment with family and friends, you trust them enough to share what is going on with you. You’re also looking for a listening ear and some comfort to know that everything is going to be OK.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Family and friends sometimes can be as cruel as strangers. I remember a friend once told me if I didn’t eat sweets, then I wouldn’t have diabetes! Someone else once said if you weren’t fat, you wouldn’t have diabetes. (At the time, I wasn’t even fat.)
Here are some more ridiculous myths people say:
“If you eat a piece of cake, you can get diabetes.”
“I am too skinny to get diabetes.”
“People who have diabetes can’t donate blood.”
“Type 2 diabetics are lazy; that is why they don’t exercise.”
“Diabetics cannot eat any carbohydrates because they already have too much sugar in their bodies.”
“People who have diabetes will die within 5 to 10 years after getting it.”
“People with diabetes are the reason why health insurance is so high – because they require a lot of medicine, and they have to go to the doctor all the time.”
“People who have diabetes have to exercise 7 days a week to live.”
These comments were so insensitive and untrue, especially since finding out you have a disease is hard enough to cope with. Moreover, hearing some of these things from your family and friends is devasting and can send you into a state of depression.
Shaming someone about their disease is hurtful and insensitive. People should have some compassion when they are speaking about someone’s illness because you never know the circumstances of how it occurred. People don’t realize that some people develop diabetes because of genetics (family history), which is out of your control.
It’s often hard walking in someone else’s shoes, so please be mindful of the impact of your words and learn to be kinder and more sensitive. People always say what they would do if things would happen to them, but until you do and experience it for yourself, you don’t know what you would do, or how you would feel.
Let’s all open our hearts, and ears, and love your friends, family, and neighbors despite what they’re going through.
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