The Stigma of Being Diabetic

By GabbyPA Latest Reply 2014-08-18 15:29:47 -0500
Started 2014-08-12 07:10:19 -0500

Do you feel bad about your diabetes or that you have to do certain things to manage it? If you do, you are not alone by a long shot. This article shows just how much it can be in our lives.

What really surprised me was the stigma attached to type 1 parents. I was shocked to see they are one of the largest groups that feel stigmatized at 83%. It is due to the perception that they caused the disease in their child. It was not stated, but I am sure the parents of type 2 children are also foisted into this blame by others or even themselves.

The article mentioned how far we have come, but the numbers are still staggering. The only group that felt the least stigmatized were type 2 on oral medication at 51%. That is just sad. I am sure having an onset of diabetes as an adult equips us each a little better to handle things.

I suppose, since I was last in the family to get it and I was almost 50 when I did, it didn't affect me the same way. I don't much care what people think of my disease. But there are so many who do.

29 replies

Chopstix 2014-08-18 15:27:44 -0500 Report

I was diagnosed April 2005 and to the best of my knowledge I have not been stigmatized. After drivers I knew or met found out that I was diabetic they started asking me what all I did to maintain my health while on the road 1-2 weeks at time. Like I tell people, knowledge should not be kept it should be shared…

TLTanner 2014-08-15 19:34:50 -0500 Report

I only have one vice and that's with the thought that you get diabetes from eating too much sugar. I was 4 when I was diagnosed, so how did I eat too much sugar? Hmph! Other than that, I don't really care what others think. :-)

Sweeties mom
Sweeties mom 2014-08-14 18:50:23 -0500 Report

I've always felt that if anyone had a problem with me being Diabetic, it was their problem, not mine. I'm the type of person who is upfront and honest and will answer questions about my condition. However, any snide remarks are met more times by my friends defending me, than with my saying anything.

lorider70 2014-08-14 12:38:12 -0500 Report

I do not care what other people think of me being diabetic. I do, however, take issue with any and all Drs. and other medical personell that take little notice of my concerns, I have asked so many times " why do I have trouble maintaing body weight, why do I always feel lousy in the mornings, the list goes on and on". I refuse to start letting what life I have left center on which doctor I have to see next, One doctor has taken me this far and I will not add 2 or 3 more to the list just to fatten their income. Bitter? Yes I am! I wanted reasonable answers and all I ever got was either " learn to live with it", or "it's part of getting older".

TLTanner 2014-08-16 22:48:58 -0500 Report

Oh lorider70, i feel your pain! I usually get, "it's part of being a diabetic" or "well, you ARE diabetic" when I ask such questions. I already knew I was diabetic, I'm not paying you to tell me that, I'm paying you to tell me why I'm having issues with weight, being tired, feeling bloated all the time, water weight gain even when I'm taking my meds, etc., and as you said, the list goes on. Don't blame my diabetes for issues that are probably related to something else that has nothing to do with diabetes!

My next favorite is, "you are taking so many meds right now, we don't want to add another one." To me, I already take 20+ pills, just in the morning, what is ONE more? LOL Silly argument if you ask me!

funnygirl98 2014-08-17 10:26:44 -0500 Report

TL Tanner I also feel ur pain. I get the same crap from my drs and when I dont get any answers I get mad and strike back verbally and thats when my drs finally tell me what I need to hear. Also I'm 43 yrs old and throughout the day I take 42 plus meds and I hear the complaints about it all the time but I let it go from one ear and out the other lol. Once they walk in my shoes they need to keep their opinions to themselves cause I dont need to heat it umpteen thousand times lol.

TLTanner 2014-08-17 13:54:20 -0500 Report

My biggest problem right now is trying to find a doctor that will treat what I believe is a thyroid problem. They keep telling me, "you're within range" but don't take into account my symptoms. I'm on the low end of "normal" and it fluctuates. Most doctors think that if you're "within normal ranges" you can't be having that problem. Hmph! I like your comment about people commenting when they have not walked in your shoes. I actually had an acquaintance that kept saying she was diabetic but NEVER followed a diabetic diet or anything. Lo and behold, in her later years, she became diabetic! Watch what you wish for, eh?

Bknown 2014-08-13 20:17:34 -0500 Report

That was a nice comment Gabby! I feel the same and there's no shame about my disease called, type 2 diabetic. I found out when I was, I think 50, but I can find out for sure and post the age when I was diagnosed. I'm the only one in my family who been diagnosed with the disease. My positive attitude is don't let your disease control you, you control it!.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-08-13 10:58:48 -0500 Report


I so often hear this from clients. And, to be honest, I also often hear a lot of snide comments regarding diabetic kids and their parents, especially if either are overweight. Along with a lot of self-righteous speechifying about early onset diabetes and the end of civilization as we know it. I also find that, out of ignorance, Type I and II are sometimes assumed to be the same condition, and the result of eating habits.

It's a shame to see anyone living with diabetes being stigmatized. I try to educate people whenever I can. These comments are a reminder that there is a lot of judgment of others and unkindness in the world.


GabbyPA 2014-08-13 18:28:38 -0500 Report

I like that word....speechifying.
I am always open to people sharing their opinions as long as they give me equal time. Sometimes the person is worth educating, sometimes not. It's something we do to people in various levels without realizing it often.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-08-14 20:58:03 -0500 Report

Yes, exactly. And maybe the best way to educate people is one person at a time, taking advantage of those teachable moments when the other person is at least receptive to learning.

Sly Kitty
Sly Kitty 2014-08-13 10:27:17 -0500 Report

I am with you, Gabby. I don't play the blame game and I refuse to feel any stigma with regard to this condition. I often hear from the (well-meaning) Food Police who consider themselves the authority on what diabetics should eat and not eat. If I am in the mood to, I will try to educate them, but most times I just let them carry on and thank them for their interest and concern.

Michael_1960 2014-08-12 20:57:10 -0500 Report

I was diagnosed Dec, 2010, and I let everyone know that I'm a T-2, and I tell them that it's ok, I'm doing great with it. I watch what I eat a lot of times, but sometimes I can't, and it doesn't bother me in anyway. I try to exercise more and walk more. My mother was a diabetic before she passed on in 06, I always told her if I ever become a diabetic I would die, because I will never be able to give myself a shot, well now that I became one it's not really that bad, you get used to it. I got off the needle, and all my other meds by eating good, and walking a lot. I try to tell others about diabetes, so they will eat more healthy, but some just don't care like a few kids I talk to. They still eat their junk food, and sit around and not do nothing all day but play video games and watch tv. You can only talk to them so much, if they don't want to listen then they will have to learn the hard way.

haoleboy 2014-08-12 20:10:35 -0500 Report

I am an 'out and proud' diabetic and stroke survivor and an outspoken evangelist for the advantages of a healthy diet and lifestyle … particularly for children.
Go ahead … eat a doughnut or light up a cigarette around me … yeah, I'm that guy.
No apologies.

Rose67 2014-08-12 18:13:48 -0500 Report

My grandfather, dad, and uncles had diabetes, 2 brothers before me, so it was not a surprise to me. I was 58. I could have delayed it by taking better care and eating better. I do struggle at times, but I do not feel it is the end of the world for me. I did not hide it or felt stigmatized. I just accepted it and being diabetic helped me to lose weight and eat better.

teacherspet 2014-08-12 17:44:25 -0500 Report

I have been a diabetic for the last 16 years. I did keep it hidden in the beginning from my parents, because I didn't want them to worry or ride me about things, but when they did find out, it was my choice to say, "oh, and, I'm diabetic". But otherwise, there hasn't been a time yet, where I felt as if I were being stimatized by others. I have had some unwise and cruel friends who say stupid things like "she can't eat that", or once a friend said to a waitress "get her a real coke, she's diabetic"…but I've taken the high road and taught them about diabetes…surprise, several of them have joined our elete group of diabetics. I think it's truly in how YOU handle it among people that makes a difference how you are treated.

peewee0618 2014-08-12 16:54:41 -0500 Report

I was in my 40's when I found out I was diabetic but I had been around people who had it like my mom and my aunts. The thing is it runs heavely in my family on my mom's side. As of now, besides me, my oldest brother has it and I just found out that my son has been diagnosed pre-diabetic. He would be fine if he lost some weight and ate better than what he does now. It does not matter to me if people know that I am diabetic. I will test in front of people and then take my shot and keep it moving. There are some places I go such as work where I am happy that they know just in case something happens to me they would have an idea of what to look for.

Caroltoo 2014-08-12 15:55:16 -0500 Report

Our self perception influences how we view stigmatization. Others, out of ignorance or malice, may make unkind or judgmental statements, but we do not have to allow ourselves to be affected by those judgements. Educate where you can, ignore when you can't educate, but whatever you do, don't internalize someone's ignorant judgement about you.

In 2000, I recall thinking: hummm…I'm overweight and have been for a few years and seem to have missed all those horrible consequences that I keep reading about. Lucky me!

I didn't get motivated to change and three years later found I had become type 2. At that point, like Pegsy mentioned, I was upset with myself for not doing more when it was easier to do, and decided I was going to take better care of myself. I have and I am doing well. I have also spent a lot of time and energy discovering what triggers my spikes and dealing with those areas of my life regardless of whether they are food issues, stress, lack of exercise, or environmental toxins.

With the stress of my husband's last illness and death, I have had to work at my BGs harder, but am still doing OK. I now find Aloe Vera juice is helpful to me; have been drinking lemon juice in water for several years, and using vinegar as salad dressing. These are little things that help me maintain my lower BGs along with minimizing my High Glycemic Index carbohydrate intake, discovering I am gluten intolerant, and reducing my exposure to environmental pollutants including pesticides because I have discovered that to be the source of some allergies which cause inflammation which raises my BGs.

For me diagnosis triggered my desire to make positive change and take charge of the situation. With that mindset, stigma can't attach to my psyche even if it is around me. Educate others when you can, but don't let them upset you because the distress you allow others' attitudes to cause you will increase your BGs!

Pegsy 2014-08-12 14:16:56 -0500 Report

I don't feel stigmatized by others being diabetic but I am disappointed in myself. I feel as though I could have avoided it had I taken better care of myself prior to developing it. But I didn't. The diagnosis is what motivated me to lose weight and become as healthy as I possibly could. I had high hopes of getting off meds once all the excess weight was lost. I've lost the weight but I am still on Metformin. In a way the diabetes was a blessing because it motivated me to take better care of my health but I worry about future complications every single day.

My grandfather was diagnosed when he was in his 70's, my mother in her 60's and I in my 50's. I should have seen it coming but I didn't.

Chuck Fisher
Chuck Fisher 2014-08-12 13:04:40 -0500 Report

I think the stigma that diabetics feel is somewhat cultural dependent. Note that this study was conducted in the US. In other countries diabetics are not "blamed" for being diabetic. It's interesting that a number of medical and nutritional people believe that the increase of incidence of DM II is due to changes in diet during the 20th century. The US has "exported" these changes and now DM II is increasing in other countries.

A similar thing has happened with celiac disease or more broadly wheat intolerance. Older types of wheat (e.g. spelt) have less gluten than "modern" wheat. Increasing the gluten content of wheat was one of the objectives. As an over-reaction look at how many products sport "gluten free" now. Things like bacon, milk, fruit juice, soft drinks. They never had gluten to begin with.

MrsCDogg 2014-08-12 10:12:31 -0500 Report

Being a type 2 I have felt the stigma attached to it. Especially from some on-line communities. Everyone wants to help those who have type 1 because that's the kind that little kids get. But type 2? "Everyone knows they bring it on themselves". That's the type of stuff I've seen posted. We are gross and disgusting in the eyes of some folks. Not in my eyes because I have lived my entire life in a family where all but one of my mothers siblings had it. I have three cousins from my mom's baby sisters family who are diabetic. The only diabetics I look down on are the ones who feel superior to others, because we are all in this together.

margokittycat 2014-08-12 10:11:18 -0500 Report

You know 30+ years ago when I was told I was diabetic and I had to test and take shots I would have aswered yes to this question, because I felt as hough I had t go to a restroom if I was ut somewhere o do my BG test and my shots.

Now, I do not care. People can say what they want but it just roles off my shoulders. I do not have to hidewho I am or what I have been given by GOD! GOD choose to give me diabetes for a reason, and I am not going to stop living my life or let anyone try and stigmatize me because of it. Diabetes did not run in my family, no one on my fathers side had it and the only one on my mothers side that had it was my Great Grandmother. No one except for me has had it in our family since.


JoleneAL 2014-08-12 09:19:03 -0500 Report

I don't. Recently I met a group of ladies who I've gotten to know over the internet and the first thing I did before eating was bring my meter out and test right in front of them. They only asked if it hurt.

Trudie Ann
Trudie Ann 2014-08-12 08:38:36 -0500 Report

Ignorance from people who don't understand is hurtful. I am suprised how in this day and time a lot more people are more informed. Or is it just because all my friends and acuantances are my age and have been around long enough to see it. I never knew there was such a thing when I was young.

rolly123 2014-08-12 08:16:14 -0500 Report

I grew up with dibeties around me my mom had it! Saw her life so busy she tested then took medicine ! I didn't know my real dad until 12 years ago he had it also he didn't care what Peaple thought he was like my mom took shot and ate what he wanted! When I had take insulin I guess I did same thing as my parents both died of dibeties complication and my grandparents also I cared what my friends knew I wouldn't tell them so I could be normal eat ! If one knew they say can't eat that because u dibetes so eat prove them I can now u let only close friends know! It bothered me having it! Now want take care of it hard

Type1Lou 2014-08-12 07:45:28 -0500 Report

Although I personally have never felt stigmatized by having diabetes, it was perhaps because I grew up with a diabetic Dad and that seemed the norm for me. My Dad died in 1973 at age 81 after dealing with diabetes for 20+ years. In 1976, right after I was diagnosed, I was at my Mom's, trying to give myself my very first insulin injection. I thought I would have no problem since I'd seen my Dad do it, but it took me 5 minutes to "force" my hand to plunge that needle in, all the while, my Mom was looking on. She started to cry and explained that she felt she was responsible for my developing diabetes. She was always a very loving, accepting and empathetic parent…so she probably felt a "stigma". I explained to her that I'd much rather be alive and dealing with my diabetes than have never existed. I had her in my life until 2005 and she was nearly 98 years old.