Diabetic and Proud
I have been a Type One Diabetic since 2017. It’s been four years ever since I received my diagnosis, and there have been countless moments since then when I have wished for nothing more than to be free of being diabetic.
It was in 2020 during quarantine when I started to do more research into the disability community and I connected to the diabetic part of myself for the first time. Before 2020, I didn’t even know diabetes was classified as a disability. I had honestly thought, for about three years, I was making all of my struggles up. No one had ever told me diabetes was a disability and that is because of the stigma that comes with the word.
To clear the air: disability isn’t a dirty word. Being disabled isn’t a bad thing.
I think finding my disabled identity was perhaps one of my most enlightening experiences as a diabetic. I had gone years feeling like I was broken and that there was something wrong with me, but after connecting more to the disabled community on the Internet, I realized that I didn’t have to be ashamed of myself any longer. I had tried, but I had never felt understood in the diabetic community the same way that I did in the wider disabled community.
After spending months reading posts by disabled people online, I finally got over my own internalized ableism, a term I hadn’t even known before 2020. Internalized ableism is when you deal with your own bias towards disability and then direct it towards yourself. It can express itself through deep-rooted mental health problems and ableist behaviors to yourself and others (i.e. believing diabetic makes you less worthy, thinking being disabled is a bad thing, etc.).
After 2020, I changed my perspective from a medical model of disability to a social one.
The medical model of disability says that disabled people are the burden and that they are at fault for the issues they are dealing with.
The social model of disability says that disabled people are NOT burdens and that the world is at fault for making them feel hated and lost.
This is why, personally, I am a diabetic who does not want a cure.
Now, I’m not saying that anyone who wants to get a cure is ableist or dealing with internalized ableism. I completely understand why a diabetic would want to get a ‘cure’ if there ever is one. I’m just saying why I won’t be getting one.
Eugenics is the idea of removing the weakest links in society in order to encourage the “most strong” possible world. I feel as though curing diabetes falls under the spectrum of eugenics.
There is nothing wrong with being a diabetic. There will never be anything wrong with it, and I think creating a ‘cure’ for diabetes implies that there is something wrong with being diabetic in the first place.
The idea of creating cures was started by abled people (i.e. non-disabled people). The original intention of ‘cures’ was to remove disabled people from our society. Cures may have evolved beyond this, sure, but I personally have reached a point where I will not be changing my body in order to conform to the abled, non-diabetic norm.
A lot of times, people talk about cures in the context of diabetes as an alternative to no longer having to pay for our outrageously priced insulin. I understand this and am most annoyed at medical companies being allowed to profit off my life and existence. But I feel as though it would make sense to instead funnel all of our energy into reducing insulin costs and creating more accessible diabetic technology instead of creating the dangerous precedent of curing and removing disabilities from our world.
Diabetes is different from neurodivergencies such as autism and ADHD which are so strongly interlocked with a person’s being. Diabetes doesn’t have many positives that come along with it. But even with that information, I’m not interested in getting a cure. I’m interested in curing the world of ableism and creating accessibility. I want to be able to say I made a change without changing myself.
A lot of diabetes organizations champion cures, and something about that hurts me a little bit.
After all of these years of struggling with my own internalized ableism, I like being myself. I like being diabetic. I like how my Dexcom looks on my arm and I love how all my friends are so impressed when I can give myself insulin shots. There are some parts of being diabetic that suck. There are harmful jokes and painful side effects and slow diagnosis’.
But I think that’s my whole point here; if we focus on removing the negative parts of being diabetic by improving accessibility, rather than removing diabetes altogether, we would be in such a better world.
Acting as though a cure is the only way for diabetics to live a happy life is to undermine the possiblity that if we offered support to disabled people, we would all be significantly happier. While we do struggle with our disabilities, if there was no ableism, if there were no insulin costs, if CGM’s were free, would we even need a cure anymore?
With the state of things right now, I may come off extremely idealistic. With the current cost of insulin, it seems like the only thing that non-diabetics would be willing to fund is a cure.
But I have hope that while we are campaigning that things will work themselves out so long as we listen to every voice at the table and we prioritize the marginalized.
Every year the world grows more accepting as people can share their own stories. And I think, so long as we keep listening, we will reach a better place.
Thank you for reading.
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