Tale 9 : If you have it, flaunt it.
Hello, beautiful people! Today's post is specially for my fellow Type One Diabetics and their circle of close ones.
Do you remember the first time you felt ashamed of having this condition? Do you remember how you tried everything to keep it hidden from the world? Do you also remember the first time your family members or those closest to you advised you to keep your diabetes to yourself and not let anyone know about it?
I remember. I remember the shame I felt, the guilt, and the pressure to keep it a secret. Even our close relatives didn't know about me being a T1D because, 'What about my future? My marriage?'. People who knew, actually felt sorry for me and, because my parents didn't want such vibes around their child, they hid it from the world.
I've known other Type Ones who have been judged for having this condition by their own family members. I've known girls who have hidden it from their in-laws for years and also stopped taking insulin injections for the fear of their condition being noticed. Many have ended up with failed kidneys and livers and other major health problems because of missing their injections. It's heartbreaking to know that such things happen. Because people don't understand, they judge. The crazier thing is that even family members of Type 1s don't really understand what it's all about, therefore, end up feeling ashamed of their kid having it.
I too have lived with that shame for many many years. Only I know what all I've done to avoid being noticed taking my insulin shots when out with friends or relatives. It's insane. It is only when me and my family decided that we don't need to be ashamed of this condition because, 1) It is not my fault that I got it. 2) It happening to me was unavoidable. 3) It is JUST a dead pancreas. My brain and heart are still in top condition. 4) I'm not responsible for others' ignorance about my condition.
I've known my husband since our school years but even he got to know about my T1D after 10 years of knowing me. I didn't want to start our relationship based on lies, which is why, when we started dating, I told him. He was so cool about it that he was like, "So? What's the big deal? It's all good." And I knew at that moment that I HAD to marry the guy. He researched, met with my doctors, and researched some more. He became my biggest support and encouraged me to lose all inhibitions and shame about T1D.
Family and close friends play the most important part in any T1Ds life. If the family is supportive and not ashamed of their kid's condition, the kid will thrive and turn out to be a confident adult. He/she probably will manage their condition a lot better and wouldn't be afraid to chase their dreams. It is important that the world really understand what Type 1 Diabetes is. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It's just an autoimmune disease which can be managed well and the person will live a normal, healthy life.
Many families with T1D daughters, especially, feel the need to hide it. The reason for the taboo associated with T1D and marriage is that, people don't understand this condition. It's because of misinformation, ignorance and unreadiness to see it for what it is without attaching one's own assumptions and judgments about it. My parents always used to say that if a guy has a problem with your condition, he's simply not worth it. And life is much much bigger than all these petty things to worry about. When the right person comes along, they'll love you with all of your qualities and flaws. If they see you only as your T1D, they are definitely not worth your time.
What we can do in helping the situation is try to educate them. Make them understand that it is just a part of our life and it doesn't define us. Make them read about it, show them videos, and give them examples of 80 year old T1Ds with kids and grand kids who've lived a happy, healthy life. We can try our best to make them understand, but, if they still don't feel that they understand, let them go.
All the best, fellow T1Ds! You are more than your diabetes. You have endless capabilities and you have the power to make a difference in the world. Remember that you are stronger than you think, and if someone tells you otherwise, don't listen. Ignore the negative talk and just keep soaring higher till you've done justice to your gift of being a fighter. You have it. You just have to learn to flaunt it. :)