Diabetic vs. Living with Diabetes

11 Aug

You might have noticed that I often refer to myself as a person with diabetes, or living with diabetes. But, I’ve never once referred to myself as a diabetic. Sure, by definition, I am. But– that’s not what I identify as.

It might seem like a subtle difference and just a difference in nomenclature; however, it’s a significant one.

In college, one of my majors was in Psychology. I remember in my Abnormal Psychology class they addressed the importance of this difference with regards to mental illnesses. It should be a person who suffers from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, not a schizophrenic. A person is so much more than their illness– whether mental or physical.

By saying that I am diabetic, it makes it sound like that is all of my being. It is a part of me and my life, yes, but there is so much more to me than that. I am also a daughter, sister, friend, coworker, reader, blue-eyed, and freckled. Get the idea?

It’s amazing the implications of such small differences in the way we say things. I’m working on being much more conscious of things like this… in how I think about myself and how I think about others.

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One Response to “Diabetic vs. Living with Diabetes”

  1. Nel August 14, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    I remember discussing “people-first” language in my Intro to Exceptional Learners class a few semesters ago. Subtle differences in terminology often reflect not-so-subtle differences in attitude. I aim for conciseness in my writing, so I will opt for the word “diabetic” instead of “person with diabetes” on occasion to cut out a few words. But I don’t find that I think of myself in that way. I always say that I have diabetes, without even thinking about it. Diabetes is something that I have, something I live with, not something that I am.

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