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At the beginning of the school holidays, we hugged our teary eight year old good-bye and left her in the more than capable hands of her grandparents. For two weeks, we would be overseas without her. Yes, I had a conference to attend, but her father and I willingly tacked on a week following the close of the conference to holiday in Morocco. Mother guilt? I’ve got it in spades.

Guilt. I feel enveloped by it at times. Add up the fact that I’m a mum, from an Italian background and was brought up Catholic and it’s no wonder I always feel guilty about something. Throw diabetes into the mix and there’s no escape.

Working mum, so I am always missing special events at my daughter’s school? Tick.

Regular overnight travel for work means bedtime stories are regularly missed? Tick.

Left home BEFORE I got married and lived with boyfriend, thus breaking every ‘good Italian girl’ rule in the book? Tick.

I don’t go to church (except for when being a tourist) and don’t really believe in what I was taught at Catholic school. I blaspheme constantly and leave the field blank when asked for my religion when filling in official forms. Catholic guilt? Huge tick!

That’s a hell of a lot of guilt to deal with before starting with the diabetes.

Out of range numbers; chocolate cake for breakfast; no breakfast apart from three coffees; half a block of chocolate after dinner; a day of few (or no) BGL checks; a feeling of being over it; fear I’ve passed on my defective immune system to my daughter. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick!

One of the problems with diabetes is the word ‘should’. As in ‘You should check your blood sugar ten times a day’. Or ‘You should exercise for 60 minutes every day’. And my personal favourite, ‘Should you be eating that?’ The media loves to play the blame game – especially when referring to people with type 2 diabetes.

If we develop complications it’s because we didn’t do enough to prevent them. So, not only is it enough that we have to live with the complications of diabetes, we also need to feel guilty for letting it happen.

Everywhere we turn there is a finger pointed; a head shaken; a disappointed glance. It’s hard not to feel bad, to blame ourselves when things aren’t going to plan, to feel guilty.

A question I frequently ask myself (and pose when giving presentations) is ‘Why isn’t it enough?’ If we are trying the best we can – and that best will be different for each and every person and vary at different times in our lives – why can’t we say that it’s more than good enough? Why do we need to have the emotion of guilt to a situation that no one ever decided that they wanted to be in? No one wanted to develop diabetes – not matter what type. No one chose this as their lot in life. So instead of feeling guilty about how things are going, shouldn’t we just try to arm ourselves with the best resources at our disposal and do the best we can?

I struggle with this regularly and I wonder how I would cope if I actually did something questionable that may really warrant or even deserve feelings of guilt. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons that I have a strong moral compass. I don’t say that to sound ethically superior, it’s just that I have enough guilt in my life with the things that I didn’t choose, that I avoid knowingly doing anything that would make me feel like I am a bad person.

Putting guilt where it belongs is a constant battle in life with diabetes. Remembering that a messed up pancreas is something we are forced to deal with is the first step in learning to keep the guilt in check and not let it take over our life.

And it also helps to remember that life is far too short to feel guilty about eating a cupcake. Really.


Instructions. Eat cupcake Enjoy Do not feel guilty.

Eat cupcake
Do not feel guilty.


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