Danger Ahead: One-Upmanship in the Type 1 Diabetes Community

Danger Ahead: One-Upmanship in the Type 1 Diabetes Community
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We type 1s face danger at every curve: the yummy meal laden with carbs, the pump that suddenly malfunctions, the low that plunges to scary territory, the high that won’t come down, the infusion set that bleeds upon insertion, the CGM that needs constant calibration…the list goes on.

But there is perhaps a larger danger lurking out there, one that can have a devastating effect on our attitude if we let it. It is called one-upsmanship. What do we mean by that?

When speaking with fellow people with diabetes, how often do you hear some of the following lines?

  • I have no problem with control. I have an A1c of 5.1.
  • I’m in range 99% of the time.
  • My pump is great. It keeps my average sugar at 95.
  • I rarely, if ever, go low.
  • My numbers could not be better.
  • My endo tells me I’m doing perfectly.
  • I never go above 150.
  • If I’m at 200, I bring it down in minutes.
  • I have no problem saying no to sugar.
  • Managing diabetes is no big deal.

My reaction to such comments is: Really? I wonder what planet these folks live on. Are they being truthful?  If so, why are my numbers so different? What are they doing that I’m not?

Am I the only type 1 who is not doing that well? Why can’t I be like them?

People with diabetes who brag or boast to others about their ability to handle diabetes are basically sending the message that they can manage better than you. They are putting themselves above you and playing a vicious game of one-upsmanship.

In our constant, ongoing battle with diabetes, our toughest job is to remain optimistic. When we hear others boast of great control, we tend to think less of ourselves. We lose confidence.

Without a strong belief in ourselves and our ability to stay in the diabetes fight, we can get discouraged. Not only do we feel depressed, but worse, we are tempted to say, “The heck with it.” Why should I eat so carefully if I can’t get results like my friend’s?

Some argue that it is human nature to promote ourselves over others or simply want others to know how good we are. Facebook, one might argue, is often a look-at-me activity, where people describe all the wonderful things in their lives. Multi millions around the globe participate in Facebook just to show the world their daily achievements.

How does this make others feel? If, for instance, someone on Facebook shows pictures of a delightful vacation to Paris, France, some readers might say to themselves, “Wish I had that kind of money.” Or: “Wish I had free time.” Or: Wish I had friends to go with.”

The same holds true with diabetes. When others flaunt their abilities to deal with the disease, we can easily start to feel incompetent.

Here’s some advice: Avoid those who would continuously boast about their victories over diabetes. Most of the stories simply are not true. Those that are don’t do us much good.

We need to choose our diabetes support circle as carefully as we choose insulin pumps and carbs at meals. We need to stay positive in the daily struggle and associate with those who provide us honest emotional support.

Diabetes Daily
David Bernstein
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