Stigma is a word that comes up time and again when people living with diabetes talk about their lives. Like a glucose meter or glucose tabs, stigma is a constant companion.

Sometimes it gets stated in small, subtle ways. They say things like “Do you have the easy kind of diabetes?”

Sometimes it shows up as false concern or empathy. “Can you eat that?” When what they really mean is “You shouldn’t be eating that.”

Sometimes it’s a flat out judgement. “You shouldn’t have eaten all those donuts for all those years.”

Ultimately all these kind of statements are microaggressions. And honestly most people don’t even realize they are making stigmatizing statements. So what’s the big deal? Why can’t people just shake it off?

Why can’t I just shake it off?

Because the comments add up. It’s constantly being told “I’m wrong.” “I’m broken.” “I’m a failure.” It’s exhausting. It undermines my self-confidence. And it isolates me as someone less worthy.

Stigma, it’s all around me and most people don’t even see it.