Diabetes Blog Week: Message Monday

I am beyond thrilled to have started The Chronic Scholar blog in time for the Seventh Annual Diabetes Blog week! Karen over at Bitter-Sweet Diabetes is such a gem in our community and I am so thankful for her work here.

Today’s topic was my suggestion. I wrote this suggestion under the impression that our sense of community may be strengthened by it. Our collective sentiments are representative of our community, and possibly people with diabetes in general. How often do we look at and examine our message though? How often do we analyze the effectiveness, possible results, and second-order consequences of the sentiments we articulate through our stories? I personally wanted to opportunity and space to explore my main diabetes messages, so I am extra thankful to Karen for picking this topic.

I haven’t been the first PWD to admit today that my message has changed over the course of writing a blog. I started it when I was working in the Bay Area at The Diabetes Hands Foundation and am now with DiabetesSisters and a second-year PhD student in Disability Studies in Chicago. I’m thankful for blogging, in retrospect, because it shows my changes over time. I get to read how I was feeling four years ago. What a wonderful opportunity.

With that said, what are the messages I put out into the world via my blog, and what do I hope they accomplish? Well, below are my top two messages. Both stem from personal experience, the latter from my studies in critical theory, and they speak to one another.

Message 1: Diabetes looks like everyone you have ever met, no matter the type, no matter the circumstance.

Can type 1 look like a child? Yes. Can it also look like a grandparent? Yes.  Can type 2 look like a child? Yes. Can it also look like a grandparent? Yes. And everywhere in between. Diabetes does not discriminate, nor does it choose its vessels based on ‘lifestyle.’ The most important message I want to spread by telling personal stories is that diabetes is more complex than the one-dimensional caricature blasted through popular media.

Message 2: When persons with type 1 set themselves apart from type 2 by saying things like “Type 1 means I did nothing to cause this,” we are inevitably strengthening the type 2 stereotype we are attempting to distance ourselves from to begin with.

This is a tricky message to share and to explain. It is complicated and has a couple of moving parts. Moreover, this second message is a reflection of how my messages have changed over time. When I began blogging, I wanted the world to know about type 1. I wanted my friends and family to know that what I endured everyday was more difficult than Wilfred Brimley made it sound. I wanted Ellen to tell the internet and Hollywood to stop confusing my disease with someone else’s.

It was with great humility that I began to witness the second-order consequences of my message and mission to educate. By demanding there is a difference, I reinforce that difference; I authorize it. In this scenario, I, as the educated patient give permission to those being educated to continue believing that type 2 looks they way they think it does, fat and old, bad and sad.

Simply separating myself and my diabetes from THAT type 2 diabetes, I do nothing to fight stigma, but in fact reinforce it.

The message which I stand by now has been my hardest diabetes lesson thus far. As I continue to move through life with this disease, with this plastic pancreas hooked at the side of my jeans, I will be watchful of the impact of my messages. I will allow for humility to guide me, espicially when my righteousness is called into question by doing so.

 


Today’s topic:  Click for the Message Monday – Monday 5/16 Link List.
Lets kick off the week by talking about why we are here, in the diabetes blog space. What is the most important diabetes awareness message to you? Why is that message important for you, and what are you trying to accomplish by sharing it on your blog? (Thank you, Heather Gabel, for this topic suggestion.)

 

 

 

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Diabetes Blog Week: Message Monday

  1. Katy says:

    Hello, yes! —->”I do nothing to fight stigma, but in fact reinforce it.” So tempting to nod in agreement, right, right, Type 1, blameless, shining angels of goodness—instead of saying, “anyone can have type 1 or type 2, it’s just bad luck either way…”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jenn says:

    Thank you for suggesting such a great topic,and to follow it up with an even greater post. I think we all benefit from everyone, in one way or another.

    Like

  3. Briley says:

    As you know, I’m so inspired by you and the way you make my brain work. Thank you for all you have done and I can’t wait to see how you use your knowledge and passion in the future.

    Like

  4. Laddie says:

    Being part of the entire D-community instead of the Type 1 community is always a work-in-progress for me. Thanks for your words of wisdom (and a kick in the pants).

    Like

  5. Kimberly Goodson says:

    I love this post, and this topic! Thank you for all of your work and impact in the community. As a relatively new blogger and health coach for Type 1’s, I always struggle with the issue of differentiation. I hear my voice echoed in what you said about your transition from wanting to separate yourself as Type 1 and explain that to the world; but I haven’t come to terms with lumping them together completely though. There IS such misinformation out there for all disease. I recently found myself trying to convince well-meaning friends that Type 1 is in fact incurable, unlike many other autoimmune diseases. At the heart of it all, however, is the message that we are all individuals whose lives are impacted by disease in sometimes very similar and other times very different ways. When we can humbly and gratefully share our experiences with one another, THAT’s when we can see positive change for a stronger community. (Not sure if that made sense, but to learn more, you can look me up at balanceinthebreeze.wordpress.com)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Susan C. says:

    Absolutely! Phrase that drives me nuts “so you have the BAD kind of Diabetes…” – Hello – we ALL do – It sucks no matter the type! Keep up the great blog!!!

    Like

  7. Ashleigh says:

    Perfect!!! I have Type 1 and really dislike it when people put Type 2 down thinking they are saying the right thing. I always correct them, for the very reasons that you’ve mentioned. People need to understand all types of diabetes correctly for us to see changes in attitudes towards any person with diabetes of any type.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Karen says:

    First of all, thank you for such a fantastic topic suggestion. You really did give me the perfect way to kick off Diabetes Blog Week. And second, thank you for such an important message. I am a firm believer that we all need to stand together, regardless of type, and that is one of the reasons I am so happy to volunteer with DiabetesSisters, which works so hard to unite us.

    Like

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