I recently joined a diabetes forum and like most forums the people using it are looking for support and answers to their questions. I haven't been very active on the forum, but I've been watching as people from all over the world give different advice and opinions on diabetes subjects.
Today, whilst absentmindedly scrolling through posts to see if anything caught my eye, I read one from a lady who was desperately unhappy. She wrote about her partner who, rather than being supportive of her diabetes and the complications she is suffering from, has told her that she is a burden, that she has ground him down and that he can't offer her any more compassion. She wrote that he's always angry with her, that she feels scared and lonely and that she shouldn't be putting him through the stress of her illness.
I felt terrible that she was going through such a difficult time on top of the pressures she already has, and tried my best to write some comforting words to her, to give her some reassurance and show some understanding. Soon after, more comments had appeared in reply to the post. Almost all of them said that they were in the same situation. They said that they hide their emotions and sometimes their diabetes for fear of upsetting others, fear of rejection or becoming a burden on their partners.
I felt so angry but also so saddened by this that I wanted to shout, to find each and every one of them and tell them that it isn't right. No one should ever make another person feel that way. I know, because I was once made to feel that way, and it was one of my biggest pitfalls.
Aged 17 (1 year after my diagnosis) I met someone. He was 26 and at the time was the best thing in my life. At first my diabetes wasn't an issue. He tried to understand it, but it was difficult for us both as I didn't understand it myself.
Soon though the comments started...
"Do you have to inject in front of me? Can't you do it somewhere else?"
"I had to take more time off work to come and see you in hospital, it's making me look bad."
"You'll have to call an ambulance for yourself, I'm going to bed."
"You've put on weight, if you didn't have to inject then you wouldn't have to eat."
There were many more...
After a while some of the comments stopped because I had, by that time, stopped taking my insulin, stopped testing my blood sugars and stopped looking after myself. I remember the one and only time he came to a hospital appointment with me... I was with the diabetes nurse and she asked me to fill in the 'Problems and Associated Issues with Diabetes' questionnaire. One of the questions was about support and I could feel him watching me. I burst into tears and had to leave... He told me that it was a waste of time.
For almost 5 years this went on until one day I'd finally had enough. Breaking free was the best thing I ever did, it was a huge weight lifted, but by that time the damage had been done.
If I could have shown my 17 year old self the physical and emotional consequences of not taking care of myself, then I know that I would have never let it get that far. It took a while to come out of my shell, but now I'm confident and feisty and if anyone ever made me feel that way again it would be the last thing they did.
If there's anyone out there who feels that their diabetes makes them a burden or makes them feel that they aren't good enough, please think about how the future will look if you start to believe it.