How does it feel to have type 2 diabetes? Usually, the answer to that question is about physical symptoms: “Tired.” “Thirsty.” “Hungry.” But having diabetes can produce other feelings as well: “Judged.” “Embarrassment.”
Having diabetes or prediabetes is more than a physical challenge. It can also be socially challenging. In one study, more than 80% of people living with type 2 diabetes say they feel judged by others for having type 2 diabetes. And that can make staying healthy harder. Just the experience of having others blame you for your health condition is associated with depression, higher A1C scores, and increased rates of complications of type 2 diabetes.
The people who make harmful assumptions about life with type 2 diabetes might be friends, neighbors, family—or even ourselves. The cause is misinformation and a lack of understanding of the disease. The fact is type 2 diabetes is caused by a complex mix of genetics, environment, biology, and lifestyle. It isn’t caused by a mistake you made. It isn’t our fault. We didn’t ask to have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Preventing or controlling The Beast is a daily part of our lives. Our commitment to better health is something to be proud of — and to be respected by others.
What matters most: Learning more every day
If you ever feel judged by others, take a moment to reflect on your own journey to better health. You are learning more every day about nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction. You are discovering the small changes that make a big difference in managing type 2 diabetes. Recognizing how far you’ve come will help make others’ opinions matter less.
Reaching out to others — those we trust and other people living with diabetes — can help us stay on course. Online communities from Facebook groups to Beyond Type 2 can be a big help, too. In those online conversations, we can discover that everyone’s story is different, and everyone has experience and wisdom to share. Talk with your family and friends about the ways they can support you manage diabetes as you cook and plan activities together.
We need to take care that the judgment of others doesn’t lead us to criticize ourselves. Try instead to encourage yourself. When you have a good day of eating well and exercising, take time to appreciate your accomplishment. If you have a day when you blood sugar spikes, nevermind. Try again tomorrow.
And, by the way, just by educating yourself about prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, you’re already doing a great job. Learning why type 2 diabetes occurs, how it affects you, and what you can do about it is the most powerful way to control the disease — and ignore the people who judge.