I don’t know when it was that I decided that I wasn’t fighting diabetes anymore. Maybe it had something to do with paying more attention to language and words, or maybe it was just accepting that no matter what the strategy, no matter how much I fight, diabetes is there. 

Everywhere I turn in the diabetes world, I see words that invoke battle. It is, quite frankly, exhausting. We use terms like warrior, fighter and army and challenger. We are urged to fight the good fight and battle to beat everything diabetes throws at us. 

But if this is a war, I was enlisted with no option of being a conscientious objector. I feel defeated a lot of the time because no matter how much I fight, diabetes is still here, coming at me. An in range A1c, or high percentage TIR, or screening check that comes back with ‘no changes’ doesn’t mean I’ve overcome diabetes. Diabetes remains, despite what the metrics say. 

We’ve all read legends and seen enough movies to know that there are winners and losers in battles and wars. And understand the good guys are meant to win. But there is no defeating diabetes. It is always going to be there. Does that make me a loser? Does that make me the bad guy? 

When I started to examine the militarised language in diabetes, I realised that those very words and ideas that I’m sure were meant to motivate ended up doing the exact opposite. How was it that despite all my efforts in the trenches – and my dogged, gritty determination – I still found myself just as challenged by diabetes as when the battle started? In fact, in some ways, I felt more challenged. I wasn’t advancing in ways that made me feel like I was heading to victory. Instead, it just felt like a static, never-ending, Groundhog Day of lather, rinse, repeat (or check, bolus, repeat). 

Asking me to fight puts the responsibility – more responsibility – squarely on me and me alone. How unfair that rhetoric about diabetes requires more from us.  

To be at war with diabetes is to be at war with myself. I can’t divorce myself from my diabetes – it is me and I am it. We are a tag team, a group package, a two-for-one deal. I don’t get a say in that, and no one else does either, no matter how much they implore me to fight.  

It’s not a battle with diabetes that I need. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. It’s finding peace. That’s what I want to work towards – a peaceful existence that doesn’t add more burden.

Photo of writing on the side of a wall that reads ‘War is Hell’
Seen on the streets of New York.