Memory Monday: That Time I was Bullied for Having T1D

One Monday per month, I’ll take a trip down memory lane and reflect on how much my diabetes thoughts, feelings, and experiences have unfolded over the years. Today, I remember…

…when my alleged “best friend” picked on me for having diabetes. It sucked.

Let me recount this tale by saying first that this was many years ago – I think it was in third or fourth grade. Since my grade school days, I’ve made much smarter choices when it comes to my social circles.

But back then, I didn’t really know any better. I just wanted to be friendly with everyone.

I digress…

Back in elementary school, we were awarded fitness “medals” for being able to complete a series of exercises in physical education. These medals were really just flimsy little patches that you could sew on to a backpack, but nevertheless, I wanted one very badly. But no matter how hard I tried in gym, I just couldn’t complete as many reps as it took to earn a medal. I was always just shy of the threshold, much to my frustration.

I’ll never forget when my “best friend” told me that there was a very obvious reason as to why I couldn’t, and would never, earn a medal:

It’s because she has diabetes, she can’t do anything right with that!

In that moment in time, I was too dumbstruck by the stupidity of that comment to tell her that she was wrong. I was also incredibly hurt by her words, and they haunted me for many years after they were so callously said to my face.

My Lilly medal means more to me now than a stupid grade-school medal ever could.

Now, as an adult reflecting on it, I wish I had told her that diabetes could never stop me from doing anything. I wish I told her that she was in the wrong for saying what she said, and I wish that she could see all that I’ve accomplished over the years in spite of my diabetes.

But most of all? I wish I could thank her for that comment – because as mean as it was, it gave me something to think about on the days when I just want to quit because of diabetes. Her words serve as a reminder to me that I can and will succeed at anything I set my mind to, diabetes and all.


One thought on “Memory Monday: That Time I was Bullied for Having T1D

  1. It’s a comment that makes you want to step up, right? It’s what I got out of your last sentence. I was bullied by almost everyone in high school. I had a few real friends back then but most of them saw me as the new kid from a church school. I was pushed in the halls, came home many days with spit on my back, and had my books knocked out of my hands between classes. Rarely did I hear it blamed on my diabetes but it stung all the same. I was a pacifist back then. I kept my mouth shut 95% of the time but seethed in anger underneath. Only once did I ever lash back and no one ever looked at me the same way again. My grandmother had just died the day before and one of the football players was hitting me in the arm with his knuckle to get that lump to pop out. It was a things back then. I asked him to stop twice. That last time I swirled put both hands on his shoulder and dented the locker behind him with the other shoulder, dented it. I turned to see every eye in the locker room on me, including the coach’s. They had never seen me get physical with anyone picking on me before and I’m sure the look on my face was not a good one. At that time, I had descended into the lower levels of hell and was more than angry. I was furious (sorry for the French) and maybe just this side of snapping completely. Point is I feel for you and know a little of what you went through. I lived it too. I’ve always held myself to a higher physical standard than other due to diabetes. So many times I’ve felt it prevented me doing things I wanted so I have pushed as hard I could in trying to make it work. Like the old saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.


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