For almost 16 years now I have lived with Type 1 Diabetes, a challenging and sometimes life-threatening disease. It is constantly overlooked and misunderstood by friends, family, and strangers.

I am writing this today because I am afraid that Type 1 Diabetes has become more of a joke than a serious disease. I am here to tell you that diabetes is not a joke.

People living with Type 1 Diabetes deal with more than you probably will. Even when you are in a Nursing Home and can no longer use the bathroom alone, we have done the equivalent with our lives in just about a few years. Days living with diabetes feel like months and years feel like decades.

What feels even worse is when people without diabetes make the disease into a constant joke. Anything that revolves around sugar is automatically deflected into my direction. If someone brings a plate of cookies they say, “oh you probably shouldn’t have these” or “oh, none for you.” What is even more frustrating is when you have taught someone so much about the disease and they still don’t seem to understand that I can eat a cookie, or seven cookies if I really want to. Also, what is accomplished by making these comments? Do you feel smarter, stronger, wealthier? If you feel any of these, then I will be happy to be the butt of the joke. But I have a feeling you do not feel any of these, so what is the reason for making these comments?

Maybe some people living with diabetes can handle this better than I can. But I have lived with the disease for almost 16 years and I have heard every single joke. So they really are not funny anymore.

I know this all makes me sound sour, but most of my life is dedicated to educating others about diabetes. Of course, I never want to come off as hating the disease or as if I have the worst possible scenario, but people need to know that it affects my life in both the good and bad times. Diabetes does not take a vacation, it is always there. Sure we can say there are “good days” but mentally, most people with diabetes will tell you that it is always in the back of their mind. This is a HUGE part of the disease, deciding how much of it will take over your day, your thoughts, your life.

When something affects your life as greatly as diabetes does, it changes it.

That is all that I want people to really understand, yes it does affect my life.

Yes, I am thinking about it right now.

Yes, sometimes I can’t sleep at night because I am worried about not waking up from an extremely low blood sugar.

Yes, there is always an insulin pump attached to my body.

Yes, I have the kind that I didn’t give to myself.

Yes, I will always act like everything is OK.

Yes, I will laugh with you about the disease.

But no, diabetes is not a joke.