Diabetes & Identity

I went to Florida this past week for a conference. I didn’t know anyone there, and it got me thinking about identity. When you go somewhere new and interact with people you’ve never met before, you have the freedom to be whoever you want to be. This got me thinking about when diabetes or chronic illness comes into play and we are allowed the opportunity to “redefine” ourselves. When do you tell someone you have diabetes?  Maybe you don’t usually tell anyone. Why is that? Many people feel ashamed (and I’ll go into the shame that is so strongly attached to diabetes another time). Others are worried they will be scrutinized for what they eat or seen as “different”. If you do say something, why do you think you do speak about it? Is it for your own safety (for example, so that they know what to do if you experience symptoms), or perhaps because you feel like it explains who you are? And what comes up for you when you do tell someone? Maybe nothing. You might not even think it’s a big deal. Some of us are very uncomfortable with anyone knowing, particularly within the context of romantic relationships, while others wear diabetes as a badge of honor. Some of us feel like victims and want others to recognize our plight. We want people to see our strength, and diabetes is an example of something difficult that we live with every day. Often, it just depends on the day! How does your chronic illness affect the way you think about yourself? There is no judgment, or right or wrong answer in however you feel—seriously. I’ve just found it to be helpful to know so that I can stay balanced—so that I don’t lose myself in it but I don’t neglect it either. How important is your chronic illness to your identity?