D Blog Week 2017: The Blame Game

"Having diabetes often makes a visit to the doctor a dreaded experience, as there is invariably bad news of one kind or another.  And sometimes the way the doctor talks to you can leave you feeling like you’re at fault.  Or maybe you have a fantastic healthcare team, but have experienced blame and judgement from someone else in your life – friend, loved one, complete stranger.  Think about a particularly bad instance, how that person talked to you, the words they used and the conversation you had.  Now, the game part.  Let’s turn this around.  If you could turn that person into a puppet, what would you have them say that would leave you feeling empowered and good about yourself?   Let’s help teach people how to support us, rather than blame us!"

I have an excellent health care team, so thankfully I have a fantastic support network. But I have experienced blame for my condition in the past. In fact, I started this blog because of all the blame I was receiving. It didn't come from my healthcare team, it came from people I knew. Sometimes from my friends.

In my experience, blame is often the product of unawareness about the condition. It is often based on the loudest stereotypes in the media. I used to feel a lot of anger about the blame, but now I see it as a sign of reduced awareness. With that in mind, here's one example that really stands out for me. I don't need to turn this person into a puppet to empower me, these days she does it all the time.

When I was first diagnosed I was in high school. It was around exam time and I was sitting the NAPLAN exams in Year 9. Due to my diagnosis I received special provisions, meaning I was seated at the back of the school hall near a door, so I could leave quickly if required. When we were all called into the hall I was singled out by the head teacher to stand to the side and wait. Naturally, everyone asked why. One of these people was my childhood best friend. We'd drifted over the years with time, but were still friendly. She asked me what was going on and I told her about my diagnosis. As she walked past she laughed and said something along the lines of "ah, must have eaten too much sugar then Bec!".

Up until this point I'd seen comments like this as cruel intentioned. That they were made to hurt. Hearing it from a friend who I knew would never intentionally hurt me changed my perspective on it. Sure I was upset at first. It felt like my fault. But then I realised that it came from a place of being unaware.

Now, this childhood friend is like my sister. We've been friends for 16 years and she is one of my strongest supports for everything, diabetes and all. She took an active interest and even brags about this blog to anyone remotely interested. Before I had a CGM she would get up at 3am with me after we'd been out for drinks, so I had company when I checked my sugar. Sure, she would always fall asleep almost immediately after turning the alarm off, but the thought was always there. 

When I reminded her of what she'd said all those years ago she was horrified. I'd say she'd rephrase it to let me know she didn't understand. I'd say she'd be a rock of support from the outset.

So what do I want from people when they don't understand the condition? Reserve the judgement. Think before you speak. Don't panic! Say nothing at all, or ask me about it. I'm always happy to chat about it for as long as you're interested to listen. Just don't blame me for something I didn't cause.

Enjoy your blog post, fellow cat lady and Harry Potter enthusiast. You're alright xx

Check out what others had to say on the subject: http://www.bittersweetdiabetes.com/p/2017-participant-list.html
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  1. Beautiful - I've reserved writing mine for fear of what might come out xx

    1. With a summary like that I'm keen!

  2. Such a lovely tale of friendship through the years. I bet you have given just as much support as you received! I love that you did not blame. It's a hard gig when people spout rubbish but when that's what they see on the media, what can we expect?

    1. Completely agree. I was uninformed once
      It's not my place to judge that

  3. Aww, what a wonderful story. She sounds a like a great friend and it's an interesting perspective to hear. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I love that she learnt and grew with you, which is always the sign of a good friendship and someone who is prepared to change

    1. What a lovely way to look at it

  5. That's so nice to hear and yes I agree people shouldn't make assumptions when they don't understand!


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