How to bust diabetes myths
Facts can be empowering. Knowing the truth is useful – especially when your health and well-being are on the line.
The world is full of misconceptions about type 2 diabetes. Diabetes myths and prejudices are surprisingly common in modern society1. This is unfortunate when you consider that we have the scientific tools to bust them once and for all.
Living with diabetes means having a lot of information constantly coming at you – more or less non-stop. Some of it is useful and trustworthy, some is not.
Sifting and sorting it to your benefit is not always easy. But you
have to do it – for your mental health and well-being. You have to
protect yourself from misinformation. And you have to seek the company
of people who truly care for you.
If you’re like me, diabetes help and support are not just nice and helpful things, but absolutely crucial to the task of tuning out distractions, having better days and nights, and taking control over your diabetes management.
My first tip is to look to your nearest and dearest for the support you deserve. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help – asking is more than okay! Maybe you only need them to listen to you. Or maybe you need to ask for their support with something specific that you’re facing or struggling with.
Remember that by helping you – by supporting you to maintain healthy
habits and live well with diabetes, for instance – you are in a better
position to return the favour and help them when they need it.
Reciprocity makes everyone a winner.
My husband-to-be is a key person in my life. I can always count on
him to offer excellent type 2 diabetes support. Amazingly, even though
he doesn’t live with diabetes himself, he knows me well enough to spot
my hypers and
even before I become aware of them myself. And if I don’t take
appropriate action to bring my blood sugar level back where it has to
be, he’ll remind me of the importance of doing so.
In this way he’s a lovely example of the old line: Two heads are
better than one.
If your family isn’t living nearby, gently invite your best friend
to take more of an interest in what it means to live with diabetes,
mentally and physically. Trust me, they will be grateful to you for
feeling you can count on them!
I’m sure they’ll rise to the occasion!
Many people feel that they are required to put on a brave face when things get tough, to just keep calm and carry on. If that sounds like your life, then maybe your family members have never really become aware of what you’re going through in order to function and be happy as a person with diabetes.
Trust me, they are not unaware out of any indifference towards you
or your diabetes management. If they fail to fully understand your
situation, there might be a psychological reason. It may be because it
actually requires a good deal of imagination and effort, and even
courage, to learn anything which it is kind of painful or difficult to
know. (Painful or difficult because they love you.)
But here’s the thing! It’s never too late for people who are close
to you to become valuable sources of type 2 diabetes support. Gently
and little by little, you will be able to bring them closer to your
experience as a person with diabetes. Here’s how you might start the
Start by telling them about your day-to-day experience. About your nights. About how different foods affect you. About how you anticipate and prepare tricky moments, through deliberate action and forethought. About how you’ve triumphed in this or that scenario – and also about how your efforts have sometimes not been crowned with success. It’s all important – if you feel so, so will they.
Do it thoughtfully and sincerely. Don’t expect them to get it
instantly. So be patient.
I am convinced that your mutual sympathy will grow as a result, and your relationship deepen, because that’s what has happened to me. Like I said a minute ago, when the support goes both ways everyone comes out stronger, everyone benefits.
The value of family and friends aside, some of the best type 2 diabetes support comes, of course, from fellow patients.
Roughly 1 out of 21 people is living with type 2 diabetes in today’s
world2. So basically, no matter the size of your city, town
or community, you’re likely to find others living with type 2 diabetes
not too far away.
Close physical proximity is, however, not a must. Lots of people
locate a strong support network using social media, and if you’re
comfortable with that, social media is a great way and place to start!
It’s generally a lot faster, too, than the traditional way of getting
in touch and meeting up.
The good thing about other patients is that not only can they
immediately relate to the challenges diabetes brings. They also know
how 2 diabetes support made a real difference to them. And they can
use that insight constructively when interacting with others (such as
yourself) who might benefit from type 2 diabetes help and
I have personally found it helpful in a therapeutic kind of way to
spend time with, and form friendships with, others living with
diabetes. Having something as personal as diabetes in common can
accelerate the forming of very powerful social bonds.
In my own experience, how I feel towards some of the people in the various communities that I spend time with, is not unlike how one might feel towards a beloved sister or brother. That’s support you can feel – and grow from.
My last tip revolves around how we talk about diabetes. You can shape your own experience with diabetes – including how you receive and benefit from support – through the words you use.
Speaking for all of us in the diabetes community, it boils down to this: Do we see the condition as a heavy burden we have to carry because the universe is unfairly disposed towards some people and not others?
Or do we see it as our bodies’ way of nudging us towards a certain standard when it comes to healthy living – towards smart and sensible lifestyle choices and relationships founded on support and unconditional love?
I’ve noticed you can establish a good and healthy-minded attitude to diabetes by talking about it in a certain way. Rule number one: Aim to keep the conversation positive at all times. And help and expect others to do so, too.
If you’re successful, you’ll begin thinking of diabetes as a fair challenge – as something giving you a realistic shot at growing stronger tomorrow than you were yesterday.
Try to notice when the “temperature” of any conversation about diabetes drops. That’s when challenges that used to seem quite manageable suddenly begin to seem like a lot of work and maybe not worth the effort.
When that happens, it’s time to reset the conversation. I advise taking some time out and postponing the conversation until a later time, preferably another day when you’re in a different headspace.
With a little practice your new can-do attitude becomes habitual – and almost second nature. And with a little luck it will rub off on others whom you will be leading by your example.
The goal is to get to a place where you (and those you speak with) are offering mutual support through nothing more than how you convey your general outlook.
The goal is also to develop a way of speaking about diabetes that encourages and appeals to the part of a person that believes things are generally possible – and not the reverse.
1. Diabetes.co.uk. Diabetes Myths. Available at: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetes-myths.html. Last accessed: February 2024.
2. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas (10th edition). Available at: https://diabetesatlas.org/ Last accessed: February 2024.