Our topic today is Language and Diabetes. There is an old saying that states “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I’m willing to bet we’ve all disagreed with this at some point, and especially when it comes to diabetes. Many advocate for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes. For some, they don’t care, others care passionately. Where do you stand when it comes to “person with diabetes” versus “diabetic”, or “checking” blood sugar versus “testing”, or any of the tons of other examples? Let’s explore the power of words, but please remember to keep things respectful.
Hmmm, I feel like this topic is one that is locked, loaded and ready to explode so I am approaching it very warily. Please note that what I say within this blog (as with most of them) is my own personal experience and feelings/thoughts, everyone is different, you do not have to share in my opinions but if you do that’s great.
There are many quotes available on how important our words are, the impact they have and how they can cut deeper than any sword and do more damage than a beating. I’m sure that we have all experienced the full impact of cruelly directed words at one point or another, I know that I have been in tears over words said about my diabetes or management online or in person, I have felt made to feel bad about the way in which I choose to manage my diabetes or made to feel that because I don’t follow diets or regimes my bad blood sugars are my fault and to be blunt, it sucks. We can all say that things people say don’t affect us but deep down words all do something.
I try to be very careful with how I phrase things and put my opinions when I blog, make videos and am commenting on others things online but I’m sure that even when keeping this in mind I have said some things that have been misinterpreted or understood.
It can be very hard to share opinions online, I think that as humans when someone doesn’t share our opinion and states a different one we feel attacked and ganged up on, even if this is not the case. I have noted though that there does seem to be a ‘my way or the highway’ mentality in many DOC’s and it is dividing the communities. As we all know there are many different management techniques for T1D and everyone seems to opt for a different method or multiple methods that they feel work best for their body, lifestyle and results they want. Personally I try to eat a balanced diet (I carb count to the gram), I walk a lot, I bolus 15-20mins before meals and test 12 times a day and once in a blue moon I eat junk food and watch movies all evening, this combination works for me but i totally understand that it’s not for everyone and if people want to do it another way I am supportive of that but if they want to know how I do it I’m happy to share. I understand that not everyone’s bodies, metabolisms, lifestyles, beliefs and capabilities are the same as me and because of that they do what they believe works best for them and I will not tear that down because I am not in their shoes.
There is only one terminology or name that I struggle with in the diabetes world and that is when people refer to me as a diabetic. I know that absolutely nothing bad is meant by it but I struggle with it because I feel labelled. Once someone refers to me or introduces me as a diabetic I feel like everyone makes assumptions and decisions based on what they know about diabetes. I feel that they don’t want to get to know ‘me’ after knowing that because I become ‘Hope the diabetic’ not Hope who spins and knits and walks and bikes and paints, none of that matters because I’m diabetic and that’s all there is to me. I know there is never this intention by people but this is what I have experienced and I will always prefer to be Hope who is creative, loves the outdoors, music and taking photos and just happens to live with diabetes.
Whenever talking diabetes, be it online, in person, wherever just remember when commenting on others thoughts and when receiving comments yourself that no one is an exact replica of you and what you hold close others may not and vice versa.