When I was first diagnosed I was still a teenager and came with all the traditional symptoms of teenagedom- arrogance, idiocy and a strong helping of insecurity and embarrassment about everything and anything in public places. I knew that things like breast feeding and taking insulin in public weren’t a big deal, I felt positive about it and felt everyone should feel no pressure or consciousness about doing so. Despite the way I thought about it I was still too self-conscious to do so. I even understood I was just being irrational and that nobody would care, but still the stigma of injecting, particularly the mental link to drugs and heroin which is still a big problem in Scotland, kept me unable or unwilling to do so. Whenever I ate out or around new people I’d always try to find a restroom or somewhere where I could be inconspicuous.
It wasn’t until nearly 3 or 4 years later and purely by chance that I happened to be waiting in a queue at McDonalds for a nice healthy Quarter Pounder with Fries when a lady in front of me mentioned to her friend that she’d need to take some insulin because of the food, reached into her bag and completely surrounded by other patrons and the general bustle of the food court, revved up some insulin and injected into her upper arm. No concern, no care, just doing what she needed to do. Nobody cared. Heck, nobody even noticed. The world didn’t skip a beat. I realised at that moment that I had been an idiot to even worry about what other people thought and ever since then I’ve had no issue or really even thought about taking insulin in public.
Having said that, there are plenty times when I get glanced now and I’ve had diabetic friends and reports online mention times when they’ve been asked by restaurant staff and even loved ones to move to a private space or leave if taking a shot and nothing could be more horrifying and affect your confidence more if you’re a person who gets affected that way. But since that moment I’ve realised that taking shots is part of my life and who I am. I understand that some people may find needles horrifying or disgusting, particularly when eating, but I make an effort to be discreet and I feel that’s compromise enough. Anyone who has a problem outside of that simply has a problem and they can live with it. Anxiety and apprehension are completely understandable and I would never tell someone they should or shouldn’t inject in public, but for me, coming to terms with the fact that almost nobody cares and even when they do I’d rather someone judge me negatively than marginalise my health, and that’s what works for me.