‘What did you do?’
‘You must have eaten something bad!’
These types of condescending and mean-spirited comments are common from family members of people living with diabetes who are experiencing high blood sugar values. From blame to shame, overcoming the stigma of living with diabetes seems to be the biggest roadblock to living well with diabetes. Not only must someone with diabetes cope with the stress of day to day self-care management, they also must contend with the stigma of having a condition that even doctors don’t really understand.
For example, most people with diabetes know that high blood sugars aren’t just a result of what’s on the end of your fork. You can experience high blood sugar values because of a urinary tract infection, or depression, or from a fight with a spouse or children or anxiety over not being able to pay your rent.
A 2014 poll for the diaTribe Foundation reports that most people people with diabetes feel stigmatized by the condition regardless of its origins. And the burden of shame makes it harder to handle the ongoing diabetes self-management required to stay healthy and avoid complications.
“Many people not only feel stigmatized by the disease, but see their diabetes as a character flaw,” says Susan Guzman, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute.
“We try to make people understand that they may have contributed to their diagnosis, but it is not all their doing,” says Divabetic Club – Philly leader, Neva White DNP, CRNP- BC, CDE, as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“We talk about how we need to rethink having diabetes. How can I use this new information as a catalyst not only to change my lifestyle but maybe to change other things?,” she adds.
“I tell people that your numbers are your power and that they help you make your next move,” says Neva White.
“When you don’t take your blood sugars, it’s like driving a car and not knowing how fast you’re going. You can use the number to see what it is after you go to the gym, not only when you ate chocolate cake.”
What’s behind the number on your glucose meter?
“There are so many variables: stress, financial problems, poor access to health care, inability to pay for medications, someone who is forgetful or not organized, depression and mental illness,” says Susan Guzman, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
REGISTER NOW: Divabetic Club in Philadelphia, PA. Our next meeting is Thursday, December 15, 2016, 12 PM -1 PM.
LISTEN NOW: November’s Diabetes Late Nite hosted by Mr. Divabetic. We’re talking about overcoming the shame and blame of experiencing a diabetes health-related complication such as lower limb amputation with musical inspiration from Ella Fitzgerald.