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.