there is much debate in the diabetes online (and offline) community about whether a person with diabetes ought to be considered or consider one self, “disabled”.
sharing my position on this is something i’ve been very weary of because my feeling is that it goes against the grain of the majority rule.
but alas, here it goes….
last month i celebrated the life of my dear friend hattie… at disneyland. while there, i declared myself disabled and followed where it led me…
well aware that there are many differing opinions and feelings around this delicate issue, i want to first say that my perspective is neither correct nor incorrect because it really is an individual decision. i am not writing this post to convince you of anything, only to share how i linguistically cope and one of the perks of the madness.
we can call diabetes whatever we want: a condition, a disease, a lifestyle, a motivator, a disability, a life circumstance, a bumpy road, anything
the language that serves me best is to call diabetes a disease. there is an organ in my body that literally doesn’t function as it should. for me, to call that major malfunction just a condition feels like an undermining of the severity of my ‘situation’.
i’m not sure i want to be a person who needs credit, BUT diabetes is a hell of a lot of work and receiving recognition for that work helps motivate the continuation of my efforts. calling diabetes a disease makes it sound as serious as it feels, as burdensome as it can be, as heavy as it weighs on the hearts of my family, friends, and life partner.
i don’t want diabetes to be something that stops me from doing anything i want to do, but if i am to speak honestly, there are things i don’t want to do because i have diabetes.
for example, i can’t get schwasted and pass out because i have diabetes, but i wouldn’t want to do that anyways because it would be dangerous for my health especially since i have diabetes.
the next question is does diabetes prevent me from participating in some activities? does it actually dis-able me?
i’ve landed on this answer: it can, when i allow it to and i am allowed to grant myself the freedom to choose when and which activities my own diabetes keeps me from pursuing.
there is no hard yes or no. there are not even activities that i x out completely, it is all on a case by case basis.
and i am going to repeat this bit because it is very important to me:
i am allowed to grant myself the freedom to choose which things my diabetes keeps me from pursuing each time an opportunity arises.
there are times when my diabetes and i decide that eating a cupcake is okay, there are other times when my diabetes and i decide that it isn’t.
being consistent to appease others only serves me so long as it serves me.
i am the only one who knows how i feel. you are the only one who knows how you feel. because of that self-evident fact, we must each be active agents and advocates for ourselves in the workplace, in school, in play. because of that, we must each wear the amount of humility necessary to live in accordance with the way we feel we want to live our lives.
we all have varying constitutions and thus our capacity to bare struggle varies. maybe joe can go to work even though his blood sugar was over 400 all night, but that doesn’t mean that i should be expected to push myself to the same degree. having a weak constitution doesn’t mean i’m a weak person, it just means i have to stay aware and feed my body what it needs to stay well.
so, yes. diabetes is a disability for me because i allow my diabetes to prevent me from doing things when i feel as though there is something i, in the moment, do not feel equipped to handle.
THUS, for me, being ‘disabled’ stands as a recognition of the fact that diabetes can be a barrier to success and serves as an allowance of time to heal when it does.
PLUS! accepting the term ‘disabled’ comes with perks like disneyland passes, national park free-camping passes, discounts on electric bills, extra care and priority picking classes in school, and more.
i haven’t always felt this way and i’m not certain that my thinking won’t again shift. for now, however, calling diabetes a disease and one that disables me in certain circumstances serves me and my self management goals.
what is your stance on this issue?
what language serves you in your current life circumstances and emotional landscape?
have you noticed any language shifts in yourself throughout your time as a person with diabetes?
please do share.