I Have Diabetes: How to Talk About It

Telling others about your diabetes is up to you. Some people keep it quiet, others shout. Read on to find out whom to tell and what to say.

Deciding to Tell Others

Seven years ago Barbara Garrison was on a blind date, and the insulin pump in her bra began to beep. Barbara tried to ignore it, but eventually she had to take out the pump and reveal to her date that she had type 1 diabetes. "He said, 'So that means you can't have kids because you'll pass it on to them and they'll die early," says Barbara, 43, who is now married (to someone else).

Rather than fume in silence, Barbara, a life and career coach in Los Angeles, took the opportunity to educate her date about diabetes and the fallacy behind his thinking. I can't make him not be a jerk, but maybe I can inform him, she thought. The date ended early.

Deciding whether to tell others that you have diabetes can be tricky, especially when you're still coming to terms with the diagnosis. Misperceptions can elicit feelings of pity that you resent. Comments about your health and habits can make you downright angry.

Yet sharing the news with the right people can make a big difference in how you cope with diabetes. The way you do it is up to you. "It's really a matter of how much information you want to relay, how you think they'll respond, and how comfortable you are in giving that information," says Mary O'Connor Root, R.N., CDE, diabetes program manager for the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in Englewood, New Jersey.