#DIABULLYING

The following post was first published a little more than a year ago. From time to time we still see examples of shaming and even well-meaning people who go too far sharing their 'advice' and opinions. This article has been resurrected because it is one of the top performing articles ever published here at Sugar Surfing and back then we had but a fraction of our following vs. our reach today. Please share far and wide. Please comment below if you have noticed or experienced a change, for the worse or perhaps for the better, over the course of the last year.

I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for almost 50 years. I’ve been a certified diabetes educator for 26 years (the third longest tenure for a physician since the credential was created in 1986). I’ve also cared for thousands of children with diabetes (and adults) for well over 34 years. I’ve been a medical doctor since 1984 and a board-certified pediatric endocrinologist since 1990. I’ve published peer-reviewed diabetes research papers, written and received grants to conduct diabetes research, spoken on diabetes topics internationally, sat on numerous diabetes organizations, and even recently co-authored a popular lay book on dynamic diabetes management entitled "Sugar Surfing". I have NEVER stated my professional credentials and personal life experience credentials quite this way, but I feel it’s necessary for what I’m about to say next. For starters, in spite of all my lengthy diabetes experience, I don’t feel I know everything there is to know about diabetes. In fact, the more I learn, the LESS I feel I know. It’s that intellectual ‘thirst’ that drives me to constantly seek to learn, understand, and do more. I would consider myself beyond arrogant to ever think I “knew everything I needed to know”. And if I ever reached a point in life where I thought I knew it all, I would hope and pray my close friends and colleagues would talk some common sense in to me. My aims are to serve and to share. And in my life journey with diabetes, I come across many people who don’t know me, yet seem to believe they have the answers to what I need to know to manage my diabetes (and others) better than ever before. Many of these individuals claim to have “the solution”: something I’ve been missing and that using it will forever change the course of my life. Maybe even eliminate my diabetes altogether. Believers and followers of some diabetes solutions are often quite passionate in their beliefs. Sometimes this passion can cross the line into the judgment of others and/or their personal self-care methods of diabetes care. Sadly, some may openly berate the care choices of others or challenge anyone who questions their particular faith in their own self-care methods. And some of these people are health care professionals. Being advised of the long or short term harm being inflicted on yourself or your child because you choose not to embrace a particular diabetes method, approach or d-technology constitutes a form of emotional abuse I called diabullying. Diabullying is judging others diabetes care or knowledge with little to no understanding of the unique nature of their diabetes or the medical facts of their condition. Diabullies judge others in both overt and subtle ways. Here are some commonly overhead statements with deep judgmental overtones.

“So, your daughter isn’t on a pump yet?” “Why do you feed him so many carbs?” “Don’t you know children die from low blood sugar at night?” “You’re hurting yourself (or your child) whenever the BG goes over “ - - - mg/dl (mmol)”

Diabullying seems to be accepted by many and rarely goes challenged. I’ve seen it almost all my life in one form or another:

“Why do you want to be a doctor? That’s a very hard life for a diabetic” (I was told this during a med school interview). Diabullies tell us we’ve been doing things all wrong, hurting ourselves or our children and promoting bad practices. When I’m confronted with an online diabully, I usually choose to ignore them since responding only serves to draw more attention to whatever position or solution the diabully seeks to promote. Diabullies often start with good intentions. They may be very passionate about what they believe. But somewhere along the way that passion turns into preaching. And preaching often turns into judgment of others and their choices, sometimes harsh judgment. I’m here to say now that in our diabetes world there are many paths to success and even more paths to failure. I feel these paths are for us to discover ourselves and not to be told which paths are the “only way”. It’s time to call for an end to online #diabullying. My pages have been committed to being sources of support, understanding and acceptance and NOT sites to promote a certain dogma or philosophy. Dynamic diabetes management can be conducted in an infinite number of ways and is not beholden to a type of insulin, method of delivery, food type or composition, exercise regimen, or any other patient variable. Consider this page a safe haven from Diabullies. It always has been and always will. The relative anonymity of social media allows our inner selves far too much freedom to express thoughts we would less prone to say face to face. Posts can often lack nuance and often are injected with the personal views and biases of the reader. I was raised by the philosophy “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it”. This post may be the closest I get to breaking this rule, but I’ve given it a lot of thought and feel it’s necessary. Diabetes is a personal challenge I choose to take each day. When I want help, I ask for it. I share my diabetes experiences (positive and negative) with others in the hope that insights and new perspectives might be gained by others. I certainly don’t aim to judge or mislead others. I believe in the power of choice and espouse no particular belief other than empowerment, openness, and understanding. I challenge whoever reads this post to share their own #diabullying experiences and encounters and how they chose to deal with them.

The original post on the facebook page for Sugar Surfing along with more than 50 comments can be found here: http://j.mp/DiaBullying

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