At the last Diabetes Sisters Weekend for Women Conference in October 2017 in Alexandria, Virginia, I was a presenter on the subject of eating disorders- my specific topic was compulsive eating and Type 2 diabetes. I was very happy to add my personal story to the many stories about coping with chronic illnesses. It is a bit exhilarating to speak your story aloud and to hope that your individual pain and recovery touches another person listening.
As someone who has lived life as an obese Type 2 diabetic I have struggled with shame, stigma and despair that always haunt my efforts to establish well being. I have wondered why it has been so difficult to manage my health. That is why I wanted to write this blog- to ask questions and find some answers. I know that I am not alone, although I have often felt that way.
In fact, the statistics reflect that obesity is of epidemic proportions in the US, with 32.8% of the total population fitting the criteria. Obesity is considered the biggest public health issue facing the country. As we are constantly reminded, obesity can lead to developing other serious and chronic conditions. In 2013, the American Medical Association officially recognized obesity as a "multimetabolic and hormonal disease state" that leads to unfavorable outcomes like Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This recognition of obesity as a disease changes the conversation from blame, shame, isolation, and denial to acknowledgement of a complex disease process influenced by multiple factors, including our biology, psychology, and social systems.
So, let's start a conversation in our health-seeking peer community - if obesity is a disease state, it has many contributing causes. Maybe solutions are individual and different for each person. Why is it so difficult to change our behaviors? What are the myths and misinformation that set us up for repeated failure? If being obese is a disease state, how do we define our healing?
This is a multifaceted and thorny subject and I wish there were easy answers. If so, I would have shared them with everyone long ago. I know that being open about our struggles helps. It is part of the answer and it always makes me wonder why society works so hard to cover up human ills like alcoholism, depression, sexual abuse, and obesity.
So we are moving away from blaming and shaming to "What does it take to change?"
To be continued in my next post...