I recently made the decision to hide my diabetes, which is something I don’t regret.
This September I started sixth form in a new school, one that is an extremely different environment to my last school with brand new people too. I knew literally nobody who already went there or was starting. No one. So I decided that I would not, by any account, be ‘the diabetic one’.
I genuinely couldn’t imagine telling people, it got my heart racing, I felt panicky and almost nauseous just thinking about mentioning it. I was terrified that I would only be remembered for my diabetes and that I would get awful reactions. (It didn’t help that on my induction day two months prior to starting someone in my year group (of 23 people so I can’t afford to fall out with anyone….) had called me pancreasless multiple times and couldn’t remember my name. All because of a simple conversation over organ removals (to be fair, saying I didn’t have a pancreas was very relevant) so I was quite miffed over that and it made me even less willing to talk about it this September.)
Long story short, that didn’t work out for me. I’ve always thought about hiding it, what it would feel like to not talk about it and people have no idea. So I did conceal my tests, never mentioned it willingly and was nonchalant about it and kept to the basics with the people who did notice the small things, but I didn’t feel safe in the slightest. I worried about what I would do if I had a low, who I could ask for help, how I could get around without taking my kit (obviously not an option!) I did slip up now and then because I’m so used to everything medical being open and on show. But gradually I started conciously letting my set be on show more, testing in front of people, doing all the essentials and answering questions if there were any. Best decision of my life!
I physically can’t express how happy I am I did all that!! I needed to hide my diabetes, because I had time to let my personality show through and let people get to know Jess. Then as I gradually started gently revealing it I could answer their questions, as Jess. Now I’m not the diabetic one first, I’m Jess first. And I love it.
I’m so happy when people talk to me about now, something I didn’t realise I did but it’s so obvious now, I judge people on how they react to my diabetes. Whether they react at all, what they concentrate on and how open they are about it.
I’ve had so many different interactions with people about it, from asking if I’m okay when I’m having lucosade, to asking me how hard it is to live with, to outright asking about my sensor (by name!) and even noticing I’d had a particularly bad day with lows and asking why and how I feel, and so many more! All the conversations have been with different people too and it’s been so, so good.
I don’t have to hide anymore and that’s how I like it. I’m me. Completely me.
It’s very funny, because it’s even helping me make friends, deciding who I get along with well has a huge part to do with how they register my diabetes. It’s an incredibly good tool to have, because the people who are interested – well, not even that -people who ask about or mention it in a similar manner that I do, plus not making a big deal out of it, they’re the ones I want as friends.
I am controlling how much I’m saying, because I didn’t need to be the one who only talks about medical stuff but I’m getting there. So I’m happy being me right now, I hate hiding.