How I Overcame Bullying
My name is CJ. I am 12-years-old and living with type 1 diabetes.
When I was diagnosed six years ago, at first I didn’t feel like it was that bad. I had my family who supported me and stayed with me while I was in hospital.
I had all the usual symptoms—drinking a lot, needing the toilet and feeling sick. I lost a lot of weight. I also had developed a really bad attitude. My mum noticed my strange behavior and took me to the doctor.
The hardest part for me was adapting to managing type 1 diabetes (T1D) in school. I was verbally bullied about having type 1. People would call me fat, and they didn’t know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. When I was about 9 years old I remember one person saying, “No wonder you have diabetes. Have you seen how fat you are?” This was very upsetting for me, and I couldn’t stand for it for much longer.
When I was getting bullied I felt very empty and alone, like I was in a world full of normal people but I was the odd one out. Nobody understood what it was like and although I know they tried their best—sometimes I felt my parents didn’t understand either. You cannot know what it is like unless you have T1D.
I began to pretend to be ill so I could stay home from school—and I didn’t eat. My diabetes clinic pushed me to become involved in a support group for kids with type 1. It soon made me realize that I’m not alone. I now have other friends with type 1.
I am very grateful that the hospital team recommended the support group. At first the idea felt stupid, but I ended up finding other people who knew what it was like. I soon learned that T1D wasn’t something I needed to hide from or to hide from other people. Type 1 was a part of me and I learned how to accept it, as many other people did. My friends with T1D have helped me to better understand the illness. They also convinced me to go on the OmniPod insulin pump, and life has felt loads easier ever since.
I moved on to high school and I chose my friends carefully. At first I was scared to talk to other kids about my T1D but then I met my friend, Demi. She taught me that not everyone is going to like you, and in life some people will judge you and try to bring you down. She also told me that T1D is not something to be ashamed of, and she even researched it. I started to tell other people what it was really about. I can now freely talk to other people with type 1 as well as non-diabetics without feeling judged.
For the past year I have been telling my friends and classmates about type 1 diabetes and showing them my equipment, what I need to do on a daily basis and I have taught them the difference between hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. I have also been helping my teachers understand the disease and what to do in case of an emergency.
I would like other kids who have been bullied for their type 1 to know that having T1D is not their fault—and in fact, it was a blessing. They will find friends who deserve them, and they are not alone.
Read School, Challenges + Questions About T1D by Samuel Ruby.