Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The need for conformity

Something's been bothering me lately. As I delve deeper into the diabetes community, I'm finding that some people are keeping their disease a secret. Not from everyone necessarily, but from most people. And not like a dirty little secret, but something more personal. Which it certainly is; however, something that should be shared. I don't go parading my disease around like a medal, but I certainly don't keep it to myself.

Case in point: Two weeks ago, I traveled with some co-workers to our main office. First, four of us drove two hours to the nearest airport where we flew another two hours (after waiting on the tar mack for almost 90 minutes while the plane was de-iced, but that's another story entirely) for a spring planning meeting. I was the designated driver, and as soon as my three colleagues joined me, I immediately told them where my candy was and informed the new one that I was diabetic (two of them already knew). To me, this is common sense. Sure, I was wearing a medic ID bracelet, but how much better was it for all of us for me to just put that out there and let people know the quickest route to combating a low?

I felt like I had people in my corner watching out for me the entire trip. They knew I needed to eat and to take care of myself. But they were responsible enough to let me be responsible for myself. They just kept it in the backs of their minds in case something happened. Like, a car accident or a pass-out low. They would then know, they could tell the right people 'Hey, she's got diabetes.'

Furthermore, I believe that by telling people about my life we can learn from each other. Maybe I don't want it to come up in a job interview, but I'm not going to get bent out of shape if it does. As I posted several months ago, my sitter's husband had recently been diagnosed with Type 2. I believe I was able to help him with a number of food choices and overall diabetes awareness and education. I believe I helped this man. Had I not been open about my own personal health, chances are we never would have discussed his diabetes. I don't think I saved his life, but I certainly offered him more information than he already had. AND, he felt comfortable enough to start asking me questions.

So, I'm not just bothered by this, I think I'm actually concerned about the well-being of my fellow PWD. Not just your physical self, but your mental self. I understand the desire to be normal and to Just. Not. Have. To. Deal. With. This. Stinking. Disease. But I also understand the therapy involved in talking. There have been plenty of times I've talked a friend or my child or my husband through something that I have never been through. And that talk helps both of us. May even help me down the road when I actually do encounter that situation.

I'm concerned about the why behind keeping it quiet. Why do we have to make it such a big deal? Why can't we just lay it all on the line and let people know what we're going through?

Another case in point: I am also a person with depression. And I'm not afraid to tell anyone that fact about me either. There is such a stigma attached to depression. But the more we talk about it and the more we let the world know that it's OK to be different, the more people who need it will get the help they need. (The more we tell Tom Cruise to shove it, the better the world will be.)

Depression and diabetes are part of me. They are part of what makes me me. They don't define me. It's my sense of humor, my passion, my work ethic and my desires in addition to diabetes and depression that define me. And I'm not ashamed of any of it.

What about you? How do you define yourself?

3 Comments:

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

Very well said.

 
At 9:49 AM, Blogger julia said...

I share your disdain of Tom Cruise.

I think my definition of myself is too long - mother, wife, parent of a CWD, person with depression and hypothryoidism and who needs to lose some weight, daughter of S and J, sister of S, friend to a select few, avid reader, rabid Red Sox fan, semi-crunchy tree-hugging liberal, chocoholic...the list can go on and on and on.

 
At 7:41 PM, Blogger art-sweet said...

I think I prefer not to have diabetes be the first thing that people know about me. Because there are so many people out there with misconceptions, I want them to get to know ME first - all of the other aspects of ME (very similar to Julia's minus the red sox and the S and J and the hypothyroid and the mom thing) - before they put me in a box.

Once they know who I am, how much more there is to me than diabetes & depression - why, I'll sing it to the heavens.

And by the way, you too can be a part of Photo Friday ;-)

 

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