I think shame is a key unspoken, unexplored factor in how we deal with illness.
I listened to 2 great TED talks from Brene Brown about shame and vulnerability. Her first talk on vulnerability went viral and she followed with shame. Shame asks 2 questions: what do you think you’re doing? and if you get past that, the next question is: Who do you think you are?
It’s taken me a long time to understand how shame affects my diabetes self-care–I’m still in the process of understanding. Though diabetes is often considered a “lifestyle” disease, burgeoning research points to environmental toxins and chemicals in processed foods that affect human metabolism as possible major triggers predisposing humans to diabetes and obesity–but even if that wasn’t true, saying diabetes is a lifestyle disease immediately lays blame for having it on the patient. “Just eat right and exercise and you can get rid of it!” I don’t have weight issues (and have Type 1) but choosing to care for myself in public, like test a blood sugar, always brings up feelings of shame. I prefer to “deal with it” in private, but I have become more vocal and open over the years. Whether to disclose my diabetes, or be public about my self-care, is an important part of my healing.
Change, especially lasting behavioral change, has much to do with a willingness to live, as Brene Brown says, whole-heartedly and with vulnerability.