Diabetes and the Blame Game: Why it’s Harmful to Judge People with T1D

Here’s a little disclaimer: This post is highly personal. I’m going to dive deep here and talk about a few things that bother me when it comes to how others perceive T1D. My opinions are strong, but I’m entitled to them – just like you are.

“I can’t believe his blood sugar got that low. He really needs to have better control over his diabetes.”

“Why wasn’t she carrying a snack with her? That’s so irresponsible, she should know better!”

“They’re unhealthy. The way they manage their diabetes isn’t okay and it’s no wonder they go to the doctor so much.”

These are words that others have spoken about people with diabetes in my presence. While these thoughts and feelings aren’t necessarily about me, it doesn’t mean that I don’t take them personally.

Why do they bother me? Because they’re dripping with judgment.

It’s easy for someone who simply doesn’t understand diabetes to make assumptions based on a couple of observations they make about someone with diabetes. But just because it’s easy to assume things, it doesn’t make it okay.

Just because you see someone have a tough diabetes day, it doesn’t mean that’s what it’s like all the time.

Just because someone forgot to carry a low blood sugar remedy on them, it doesn’t mean that they always forget one.

Just because you know of someone who frequently visits the doctor, it doesn’t mean their diabetes is “out of control.”

Just because you blame someone for not taking “proper care” of themselves, it doesn’t mean that they don’t try their damnedest.

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I can do all the right things for my diabetes over the course of a day, and still have it go wrong. Blaming and shaming me for being a bad diabetic only makes matters worse.

That’s what’s so wrong about making assumptions about how someone manages his/her/their diabetes: It’s impossible for anyone to know the full story about that individual’s diabetes, because they are the one solely in charge of it. They know how it behaves 24/7/365. They know it better than their doctor, spouse, family, friends, and coworkers. And the funny (and by funny, I mean really shitty) thing about diabetes is that sometimes, you can’t predict what it’s going to do next. So you have to be prepared to roll with the punches at a moment’s notice. And you’ve got to be that prepared all the damn time: when you’re awake, asleep, traveling, exercising, working, and just plain living.

Sounds exhausting, doesn’t it?

So that’s why I think the blame game is especially cruel when it’s played to cast judgment on people with diabetes. We have the incredibly difficult task of taking care of something that most other people never have to worry about, and blaming someone for not “doing what they should be doing” is heartless and does nothing to help them.

I challenge anyone reading this to think twice before they jump to conclusions about how a person with diabetes takes care of themselves. Remember that just because you may have witnessed them going through a difficult diabetes experience, it doesn’t mean that it’s like that for them all the time, or that they aren’t doing everything they can to take the best possible care of themselves. The world is occupied by enough critics – do your part to be supportive, not shameful.

2 thoughts on “Diabetes and the Blame Game: Why it’s Harmful to Judge People with T1D

  1. The worst part is when this “criticism” comes from other diabetics. “well I can’t believe you don’t do this” or “do it that way”. I know you’ve said it as have I, we are all different. I can’t use pumps because I am so sensitive to insulin (or my metabolism is so freaking high). I know people who do use them and have good success with them. Kudos!! I’ve tried twice with disastrous effects. I’ve heard this kind of judgement so much in my life that as long as it is directed at me, I don’t care. I’ll say my peace but I’m not a hammer it in until it sticks guy. If it is someone else they are commenting about, I love to play devils advocate in favor of the down trodden. Well maybe he/she had to take the stairs instead of elevator, that can raise the metabolism and cause a low. Once the insulin is injected you can’t take it back out, you ride the dragon wherever it takes you and deal with the issue as best you can. Rarely but on occasions I can see the look of embarrassment on the person’s face, the dreaded crimson “I’m a gluteus maximus” look.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. this is such a powerful post! I am someone who is super tight with my routines and I’ve been caught out forgetting my glucose or missing a shot. When it first happened I was like” OMG” I never do this, now that its happened more than once I’ve recognized that I am human!

    Liked by 1 person

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