When I was first diagnosed as a diabetic, I was concerned as friends or relatives found out that I had the disease that they would think it was my fault – that if I had worked out harder, eaten better foods, or even generally taken better care of myself that I might have prevented it. It was a feeling of shame or awkwardness because of the physical manifestations of the disease, the junior high name-calling syndrome, and the judgmental feeling I felt when someone just looked at me. I even had a fear of being discriminated against. My fears were eased as I learned more about the disease and came to terms with something I had no knowledge of previously. I urge others to learn more about the disease… either to help himself or herself, a friend and loved one. I have found that many people feel stigmatized By their condition of diabetes. And it is true that these feelings are very present in our society. A feeling that others may think that, “You did this to yourself… so suffer the consequences.” There seems to be a perception that unfairly casts diabetes as a willpower problem. This perception is not based on knowledge of diabetes… its causes and its complications. The truth is genetics and other risk factors play a complex role in determining who has diabetes and who doesn’t. While the likelihood of having type 2 diabetes increases with age and weight, that is not always the case. Anywhere from 10% to 20% of all people who have diabetes are not overweight. What’s more, many overweight people never get diabetes. Even those who “work out” regularly can become diabetics. There are many feelings that one experiences surrounding the stigma of diabetes including: denial, shame, blame, fear, rejection, and discrimination. Learning to cope with diabetes is often a daunting task. I refer to myself as a “person with diabetes” and not a “diabetic patient” and I feel that reduces the diabetes-related stigma I had felt in the beginning. I encourage people to address the possibility that they may be a victim of the disease and not that they did or did not do something to cause the disease. I encourage our society to recognize that a person with diabetes the best way we can change perceptions and the stigma is By educating others and us. Understand diabetes and take control! What is paramount is that we continue to make the lifestyle changes needed to stay healthy!