Many people with diabetes are constantly challenged by the stereotypes and prejudice that arise out of the misconceptions about diabetes. While social stigma is quite familiar in the cases of religion, gender, etc., not many are aware of the issues faced by people with diabetes.
Many people are not aware of the types of diabetes and the causes of the condition, rather blame the person for his/her unhealthy lifestyle. What’s surprising is that studies have shown a majority of people with diabetes have felt stigmatized. In fact, parents of children with diabetes often feel themselves to be the ‘cause’.
On World Mental Health Day, we tell you the different ways one can deal with diabetes stigma and how you can support and help people around you who are fighting the condition.
Nobody chooses Diabetes
“Drink this and your diabetes will go away!”, “Only if you would have lost some weight!”; these are some statements often heard by people with diabetes. One thing to understand is that nobody chooses diabetes. The condition can be auto-immune or developed due to certain factors, external and internal. Even if the internal factors such as weight and lifestyle are managed, other factors can also play a critical role in the onset of diabetes. Moreover, it is important to understand that diabetes is a one-way road. There is no way to reverse the condition but to manage it.
One against Many
Negative perceptions can make people with diabetes feel their fight to be against the world. This is generally triggered due to pessimistic sentiments and hurtful comments given by people around them. One of the less-discussed complications about diabetes is the blame game. With the blame game and a health condition to manage, it can become difficult for people to take care of themselves. This can even get in the way of treatment.
Being Your Own Enemy
Considering diabetes is irreversible, the feeling of loss and fault is natural. However, it is important to understand that it is not your fault. On days where the sugar levels are extremely high or low, one might feel the guilt of not taking care before. This is why it is important to understand that self-blame and shame can do more harm than the rising sugar levels.
Letting diabetes become the nemesis
Another social stigma faced by people with diabetes is the feeling of being overpowered and helpless. The condition can often make people perceive that it has full charge of not just your sugar levels but your heart and mind.
How to Deal with Diabetes Stigma?
Many health experts have suggested creating awareness about diabetes to help reduce stigma. With proper education on the causes, the shame around the condition can be completely eliminated.
Here are a few other ways to deal with diabetes stigma:
Acknowledge and Appreciate
Acknowledge and appreciate the hard work done by you to effectively manage diabetes. In case you know someone who is diagnosed with the condition, motivate and cheer him for his perseverance to manage the condition.
Check on them
This is one of the key elements to remove any kind of social stigma and ensure great mental health. Check on them and understand the barriers faced by the individual to achieve his/her target. The struggle can be personal and can affect the person on a deeper level.
Do not only focus on Numbers
Do not measure their success basis his/her A1c levels, rather take into consideration the steps taken by the individual to take charge of the condition. Encourage them wholeheartedly and help them achieve their goal.
Change the Vocabulary
The phrase ‘Think before you speak’ is exactly what needs to be practiced. One can make a tremendous difference in just changing the tonality and vocabulary from negative to positive and empowering messages.
While people are gradually becoming aware of diabetes, there is still a long way to go to completely eradicate the social stigma around the condition. On World Mental Health Day, let us promise to take care of our mental health and the people around us!