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Let’s talk about bullying/discrimination with Diabetes…

I would never say I was “bullied for my diabetes” myself but it was close to. More so now than when I was in high school.

I got diagnosed with type 1 when I was in year 8 in high school. It was the toughest year of my life at only 12 years old. Kids would always make fun of my weight when I was a little bigger before diagnostics and then continued to when I lost all the weight. They saw how skinny I was getting and would make comments in class. I felt like everything was my fault and that there was so much pressure on me to please everyone who was horrible to me. And then when I got diagnosed the comments continued with “you got diabetes because you were fat before” “should have laid off the sugar” because of the lack of understanding and teachers not noticing.

It made me ashamed of my diabetes to a point where I pretended I didn’t have it. I would ignore hypos/hyper signs. I would smash my insulin on the floor. I would never inject especially in public and it was so dangerous but thankfully the phase didn’t last long at all.

But even now I feel like bullying/ discrimination doesn’t stop. I’m 21 and I still get mad to feel the same as when I did when I was 12. Especially in the workplace. I was at work a few months ago and I was on a 6-hour shift at Nandos. I went on my break after 2 hours of working and ate my food. I normally inject after food as I never know how much I’m going to eat and as I went to look for my insulin bag it wasn’t in the bag and I had left it at home. Because I was fairly new at this particular store I didn’t want to make a fuss and ask to leave to get it. I don’t live with anyone else who drives and my work is 20 min drive away.

I told one of my colleagues who knew more about type 1 and she advised me to ask my manager but again I didn’t want to make a fuss so was going to carry on the rest of my shift WITHOUT my insulin because I was scared basically. I know, how stupid can I get. My colleague was worried about me and told my manager the situation who then told me it was absolutely fine to leave and go get it as the restaurant is quiet anyways due to the pandemic and of course it’s important. So I left and got it and all was good and managers were fine with me and I confided to apologize until a couple of weeks later when I called in sick because of my dangerous blood sugar levels and having to isolate and I got a mouthful from my top manager. She continued to call me a “bullshitter” about my diabetes and having to isolate and “that time you went home to get your medication I knew you were lying and was a bullshitter”.

I was in shock and obviously resigned on the phone to her there and then because it’s discriminating. She and the managers had absolutely no understanding of my condition at all and treated me like dirt. I mean how many times have you forgotten your insulin? I’m human, I forget things.

I wish I knew what I know now back when I was in high school. These people who try to put you down or make fun of you are going to be nothing to you in the future. They’re doing nothing but building you up to be a fighter and strong! I thought my whole world was crashing down but 5 years later I realize that I was just another lesson the universe was throwing my way to test how strong I actually am.

My advice is to NEVER put yourself and your health at risk just because someone else doesn’t understand you. You know your body and know what it needs so do what you need to go to survive. Hopefully, things will change and people will be more educated so we aren’t made to feel like this anymore but at the moment we need to just stay strong and stick up for ourselves!Never stop fighting!

Molly Bryant
21-year-old dance & musical theatre student from Wales! Type 1 diabetic for 9 years

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