Language is so important in all aspects of life, isn’t it. Sticks and stones, and all that, really is a load of BS (and I don’t mean blood sugars). We advocate for the importance of using non-stigmatizing, inclusive and non-judgmental language when speaking about or to people with diabetes.
But last year, I realised that I have not been including myself in that advise – I, quite arrogantly, thought I was exempt. I mean, how could I, a fellow person with diabetes, offend other people with diabetes! Turns out, 23 years of living with diabetes only makes me an expert in MY diabetes.
I ventured out of my type 1 diabetes bubble last summer and met so many people who were just like me, except different – they had other types of diabetes. I listened to how they felt about their diabetes and about how people with type 1 diabetes inadvertently made them feel. I’ve always been concerned about how I was overshadowed and neglected as a adult with type 1 diabetes but realising how people with type 2 diabetes felt when all they get in mainstream media is judgement and stigma while people with type 1 diabetes gets sympathy and empathy.
How many times have I stated that type 1 diabetes isn’t caused by lifestyle? More than I can count. Since last year I have been very aware that I’m not doing anyone, least of all anyone with diabetes, any favours by using this language.
Language matters and I’m starting with my own. Since last year, I choose words that will not confirm any opinion that any diabetes is caused by being overweight or any factor of lifestyle. I explain my type 1 diabetes as what it is and not what it isn’t. I won’t say that my diabetes isn’t caused by lifestyle. I say it has no known cause.
I explain that type 2 diabetes has no known cause either. It has risk factors and I list ALL of them starting with the lesser known ones.
23 years of living with diabetes may seem like a long time but I still have a lot to learn.