“All those stereotypes about type 2 diabetes? I used to believe them, and I worked to distance myself from them,” I said.
Cue my blush of shame and embarrassment.
“I’m sorry I thought those things. And the main reason I don’t feel that way anymore is thanks to the advocacy work of my peers with type 2 diabetes. People who are sharing their stories and helping me understand what their lives with type 2 diabetes are like. Rachel, just through blogging, has taught me so much. Thank you, Rachel, for helping me learn.”
It felt liberating to say it out loud, even though I was ashamed to admit it. And it felt even better to be able to thank Rachel in person. I was at the Diabetes Sisters conference, taking part in a session addressing misconceptions within the diabetes community, not just outside of it. It felt like a safe, and most appropriate, place to let go of some guilt.
In the last ten years, I’ve learned a lot about diabetes through connections in the DOC – my own diabetes, of course, but also so much about how diabetes is managed and wrangled in by my peers. I’ve read extensively about struggles to lose weight, lower A1Cs, have babies, develop do-it-yourself pancreases, and the emotional chasm of depression and diabetes. The things I have learned from my peers have changed the way I view diabetes.
But I also learned to expand my definition of “peers.”
Growing up, my peers were the other kids living with type 1 diabetes, and transitionally the adults with type 1 diabetes. It wasn’t until I was involved in diabetes on an advocacy level that I realized, “Hey, the families caring for people with diabetes are my peers. As are the people living with type 2 diabetes,” among others. But it’s not like I stumbled into this revelation – I was taught by reading the experiences of people outside of my type 1 “bubble.” And I needed to be schooled, because the generic information regarding type 2 diabetes doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the disease.
I’ve learned so much reading Sue, and Sir Bob, and Kate, and Rachel. They’ve shown me how to put type 2 diabetes into context, and if they hadn’t shared their experiences, I wouldn’t have attempted to understand the other side of this diabetes coin. I wouldn’t have learned so much.
I would have remained ignorant.
Thank you the people with type 2 diabetes who are sharing their stories and helping change the public, and the private, perception of their condition.