Your stories of overcoming diabetes stigma

Thank you to everyone who shared their personal experience of living with diabetes and the stigma that sometimes comes with it.

This National Diabetes Week we’ve been looking at stigma and the impact it can have on people living with diabetes. As highlighted in recent research and in your stories stigma comes from feeling judged, blamed or even made to feel guilty about your diabetes.

Here are a selection of the stories we received which highlight the impact actions and words can have on someone living with diabetes and the courage and the resilience it takes to manage the condition and lead a healthy and happy life.

A brave young mum

Shiann’s story of becoming a type 1 mum

I have been living with type 1 diabetes since I was three. I married early and was just 18 when I became a young mum.

When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter I was told that she would be extremely unhealthy because of my type 1 diabetes. But I was determined to have a healthy pregnancy and birth.

I put in a lot of hard work despite the negative attitude of some of my medical team. After four months my hba1c went from 12.3 to 7.4.

Despite being told I would never have a healthy baby, I delivered a healthy baby girl naturally.

In the end I proved everyone around me wrong. Even the midwives were amazed at how well everything went and told me I was “a superwoman.”

To this day I’ll never let anyone tell me that just because I have diabetes I can’t do amazing things! I can and I do.

For the love of my family

Jodie’s story in loving memory of her sister and brother

My whole life has revolved around diabetes. I don’t live with diabetes myself but I have lived with it through my siblings and daughter.

My oldest sister, Tracey and younger brother Nathan were both diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when they were young. While my younger sister, Samantha and my daughter have both also had gestational diabetes.

Over the years both of my sisters and my brother suffered a number of complications from diabetes including:

  • amputations,
  • eye surgeries,
  • loss of fertility
  • heart disease
  • kidney damage, and
  • depression

Sadly for me Tracey, Samantha and Nathan have now passed away.

I’m thankful for the advances in medical treatments and mental health support available to people living with diabetes. I know that it is making a huge difference to so many live.

People need to understand that diabetes is a serious condition that affects the person living with it, and their families. I’m sharing my story in loving memory of my family Tracey, Samantha and Nathan.

Should you be eating that?

How Sarah helped her family understand diabetes

I was diagnosed with diabetes in April 2020 and told I was type 1 in December.

I have very strong family history of diabetes on both sides of my family. My mum is type 2 and had gestational diabetes when pregnant with me. My sister has had gestational diabetes, my dad and my aunt have pre-diabetes and grandpa and grandmother both lived with type 2 diabetes.

I have seen a lot of people living with diabetes be stigmatized about what they are eating.  Even in my own family. As a child I remember people harassing my grandmother about what she should and shouldn’t eat. Even her kids, including my dad, would say “Should you be eating that”? This went on until the die she died.

My dad did same thing to my mum when they were married. It was a habit he’d picked up over a lifetime.

Last year when I was diagnosed type 1 diabetes my dad starting saying to me “Should be eating that?” This really upset me and I’d decided I’d had enough, so I said “dad do you think diabetes comes from food?” He said “yes”. That’s when I realised he didn’t really know a lot about diabetes. So I explained the pancreas, insulin and the different types of diabetes to him. It was a big eye opener.

I believe we should all eat healthily not just people with diabetes. It’s okay for me to eat a treat every now and then. There is so much more to diabetes than meets the eye, but since I explained it to my dad the question “Should you be eating that?” has stopped in my family.  Sarah

You’re not being truthful

Therese’s story of being let down by those looking after her

18 months ago I was in hospital being diagnosed with renal failure, a complication of my diabetes.  My blood glucose levels (BGLs) were all over the place. Sometimes up as high 20.

The nursing staff were insisting I was eating lollies during the night, even though I wasn’t. It was so embarrassing – they were even checking my drawers for a hidden stash.

The reason for my fluctuating BGLs was finally put down to the increase in my steroid dose.

It was truly a horrible thing not to be believed. Especially by the medical staff I trusted to look after me.

I changed the way I dressed

Ian’s story about feeling self conscious

I was used to love wearing shorts when I went out (or any time really). Shorts were my fashion choice. But now because of my type 2 diabetes my lower legs are badly discoloured and flaky. Rather than have people stare or ask me about them I’ve given up my shorts and now I only wear slacks

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