I’m not a diabetic. I just happen to have diabetes.

I believe that there’s a very important distinction between having a disease, and identifying yourself with that disease. To some this might be mere semantics, but I see it as having a fairly profound affect on one’s mental fortitude and desire/ability to do something about said disease.

“I’m a diabetic”, to me, is an internalization of a medical condition into a core pillar of my being. It’s a slippery slope towards “I can’t do that, I’m a diabetic”, or “I’m a diabetic, so I might as well start taking insulin”. And with this I’m not saying that insulin is bad, or that I can do anything I want. I’m saying that, for me, it’s a hell of a lot easier to externalize the issue.

We work on externalization all the time with the young people out at Base Camp. “I’m an addict” is a very different frame of mind then “I happen to have an addiction”. The latter gives you hope and power over something, and acknowledges that you might have some strengths to bring to the situation. The former assumes that you might as well give up and learn to “manage” the disease. The first step in many of the 12-step addiction recovery programs is to “admit that we’re powerless over our addiction”. That approach doesn’t work for me, although it’s certainly proven effective for a lot of other people.

For all intents and purposes, I’m not a diabetic. As long as I stick to a paleo diet and get a reasonable amount of exercise, I can expect a long and healthful existence (free of insulin and diabetes complications).

Among other things, I’m a father, husband, brother, son, friend, manager, blogger, volunteer & entrepreneur….not a diabetic.

I just happen to have diabetes.


  1. Hi Jeff, I just found your blog on the Cochrane Votes FB page and decided to read this one because I am a Type 1 Diabetic. I assume you have Type 2 and I must commend you for controlling the disease and not letting it control you. I don’t have a choice in the matter, I was born with mine but don’t let it control me for the most part. I get so angry at people that have Type 2 and do nothing about it. I am glad to finally see someone decide to actually do something to improve your health and not just accept what’s been dealt to you. Kuddos to you and I wish you a lifetime health and happiness!

    1. Hi Chelsea, thanks so much for taking the time to check out the blog and take a few moments to comment. The doctors actually never gave me a type 1 vs 2 diagnosis. My pancreas is still obviously producing some insulin, and I don’t fit the type 2 profile at all (28 at the time of diagnosis, 145lbs and relatively fit). I refer to it as type “weird”. Regardless, so far the paleo diet (essentially no carbs) and decent exercise has kept the disease in check. I also wish you a long and healthful life! Be well and enjoy the fall.

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