Talking about Type 2 diabetes with others

When it comes to talking to other people about Type 2 diabetes, what do you say?

July, 2017

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What do you say to the people around you?

Diabetes and driving…

You may need to tell the DVLA that you have diabetes
Diabetes and driving

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In practical terms, it’s a good idea to have people around you who are aware that you have Type 2 diabetes, and who have at least a basic knowledge of what to do should you need help. Chances are, if you’ve got your diabetes under good control most of the time you won’t need anyone else’s help, but for your AND their peace of mind it can pay off to give people some grounding in what Type 2 diabetes is, and what help you might need in the future. You could share this website, for example, to help other people learn about life with Type 2 diabetes, and how it can affect you.

Assuming that you will tell your partner, other people who could benefit from being told about your Type 2 diabetes might include your employer, some of your colleagues, immediate family members, and any good friends you spend time with. You don’t need to stand up and give a lecture about it all, and you also don’t need to tell everyone in earshot – just say as much as you feel comfortable with, and only to the people you want to.

What to say

All you really need to say is that you are managing Type 2 diabetes, and that you might need their help at some point. If you can outline the signs of hypo- and hyperglycaemic events (when your blood glucose is too low or too high) that they will need to look out for, and what they should do in those circumstances, that’s going to cover just about all the essentials. You might say something like, “I’ve got Type 2 diabetes, so if my blood glucose gets too high I might get blurred vision, headaches, dizziness and confusion. If I have a serious hypo, I might even lose consciousness. If something like that happens, you’ll need to call 999 and tell them I have Type 2 diabetes. Other than that, I can pretty much look after myself, and nothing else needs to change, so there’s no need to worry.”

If it’s someone close to you, who might be more involved, why not suggest they read our guide for loved ones and carers?

Dealing with not-so-helpful advice and comments

There are a lot of misconceptions about diabetes around – especially about Type 2 diabetes. People seem to think it is somehow the person’s “own fault” they got Type 2 diabetes, or think that it’s wholly down to lifestyle. You may find that when you talk about Type 2 diabetes, you get some less-than-helpful comments from people. These tend to fall into one of two types: the well-meaning but ignorant, and the not so well-meaning.

The well-meaning but misjudged comment can hurt just as much as one that was aimed at hurting your feelings. Try to remember that just as you needed to learn about Type 2 diabetes when you were first diagnosed, so most other people also need a bit of educating about the subject. Think of it as a chance to nicely put them straight, and start a real conversation about Type 2 diabetes. You could tell them, for example, that there are lots of factors that can contribute to someone having Type 2 diabetes, and many of them are things you can do nothing about, such as age, genetics and ethnicity.

The spiteful comment can sometimes be easier to deal with than the ignorant type, as you can just dismiss the person as nasty and pay no mind to their ill-informed, small-minded and bitter opinions. If they’re the sort of person who might listen to reason, you could try giving them one or two quick facts about diabetes to put them straight. Otherwise a simple, “Thanks for that” will be response enough. If they want to be that kind of person, it’s not your job to make them change.

With the number of people being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes rising, sooner or later most people are going to know somebody who has it, so it’s in all our interests to know more about it.