I used to write a lot about my feelings about living with diabetes. I stopped because as my blog turned into more of a business on the food side, I had less time to spill my emotions as I’d like to. Today, I’m making some time.
After I tweeted about insulin affordability and had and had an interesting dialog about all types of insulin being affordable, I got a message today (anonymously, of course) that said this:
I didn’t respond, but I will probably send them this link. Hello to you, friend!
Combative and angry are two very loaded words to me, because they’re a judgment from someone who doesn’t know.
They’re also a label that unfairly shapes the narrative of Black women who dare stand up for themselves at any given moment.
It’s a way to tell me that I’m being “too much,” when in reality, I’m not saying anything different than anyone else has said. I’m just really damn loud about it.
If you’ve known me for any part of my life, you know that I’m not combative. I don’t go picking fights or looking for them.
But I will always stand up for what I believe is right – especially when people with diabetes are constantly knocked down, and told our illness isn’t that serious, or that we don’t deserve affordable insulin, or that we are just lazy. Or, that Walmart insulin is the answer (it can be, but it’s complicated).
I’m not ever going to be passive about those things. Insulin is a human right.
Period. End of sentence. Full stop.
On not being as nice: I’m glad that people see me that way now. I used to think it was the worst thing in the world if people thought I wasn’t nice. I would replay everything I said, over and over. Obsessing over how I made someone else feel, rather than considering my own viewpoint.
I would carefully tailor my words, and dance around my own feelings because I wanted to appease everyone else. I wanted every single person to like me, and if they didn’t, it was my moral failing.
But here’s the thing – every time I did that, I felt less like myself. I felt like I had to hide who I was, for the comfort of others, and shrinking that way made me anxious and insecure.
I also wasn’t being honest, and open. And I hated that about myself. There are no walls now. What you see is what you get. If you like it, great, if you don’t like it, I’m not for you, and that is perfectly OK.
I’d rather be honest and straightforward than guarded and holding back.
That is just my personal growth.
I might not be “nice” about it, but I will always treat you with kindness and respect – even when our viewpoints don’t align.
On being angry? Hell yeah, I’m angry.
We live in the richest country in the world, and we can’t figure out how to eliminate the access issues that cause people to suffer and die – I’m angry because we have all of the tools in the world to fix this, but the self-proclaimed most powerful country in the world won’t stop the price gauging.
When I put away money in my savings account because my “rainy day” might be that I can’t afford my insulin, I’m angry because my future feels stolen.
When I scrape together my own cash and my friends chip in for mutual aid posts I see online – I’m angry that someone can’t get what they need.
When someone says “this milkshake tastes like diabetes.” Or a doctor tells people with diabetes it’s their personal responsibility to reduce their insulin needs, or when a comedian says they’d like a side of diabetes with their meal, or when people tell me I should work harder with more exercise and eat less to manage my diabetes (I do work really damn hard). Or when people have to ration insulin and it directly impacts their health, leading to complications. Or when people take the advice to go get Walmart insulin, and they still face an untimely death, I am angry.
And you should be, too.
It has been 100 years since the discovery of insulin, and we are really the first generation of people with diabetes where the disease is not a complete death sentence. That is because of the gift from Banting and Best.
But as the disparities in access continue widening, that may not be the case for some. I’m angry about that. No one should die, or increase their risk for complications because they don’t have access to insulin.
Every day, people are doing the work that our systems should take care of. Contributing to mutual aid, sharing insulin, traveling outside of the country to get cheaper alternatives. We should never have had to resort to this.
I’d like to not spend energy on it. I’d like to never think about it. I’m also in a pretty unique position to speak my mind on these issues. I’d be doing a disservice if I sat silent.
But, I won’t apologize for my anger. I do promise to stop being angry about this when every person who needs insulin is able to get it without a hurdle.
But you’re also probably going to want to mute me for Diabetes Awareness Month. Fair warning: if you think I’m not so nice now. I’ll be living up to the “hangry” part of “Hangry Woman” for a good chunk of November.