Telling people about your diabetes is really
important to help those around you understand
and help you the best they can. It is also helpful
when you have hypos or become ill so that
people can look out for you and recognise why
and when you need assistance.
Most people will know very little about diabetes
and how it may affect your daily life. Use this as
an opportunity to educate people. You are the
expert in diabetes!
Tell people about the importance of looking
after yourself, the difficulties of living with
diabetes, the difference between type 1 and
type 2, and the myths associated with the
People may be anxious about your diabetes, and even though you’re an adult, they might want to start treating you like a child again. This can be really frustrating, so decide how much input you want from them, and explain that to them tactfully.
Let them know how much you want to share with them, and ask them to respect your privacy about the things you want to keep private.
Who Should I Tell?
It is completely up to you who you tell about your diabetes. Some people may feel like hiding it from the world. But telling people can really help and is also a good way of getting extra understanding and support.
Friends and Family
Telling your friends and family is always a good place to start. They can provide you with valuable support especially when you are newly diagnosed or when you just need a hug! Telling them can also help them recognise the part they can play to help diabetes fit into your life.
Never assume that hospital staff will know about your diabetes. Although there may be times that your diabetes will not be affected, it is always important to make sure anyone who is looking after your health knows about it. If you need to, put people in touch with your diabetes team as they are specialists in diabetes.
You must declare that you have diabetes to some insurance companies that you hold a policy with.
You MUST inform the DVLA if you wish to drive. You’ll find more info on this in the driving section.
You should always declare your diabetes in any travel insurance you take out to make sure that you are covered while on holiday. Diabetes UK have lots of info on this and even offer a range of insurance policies - you can click here for more details.
Employer and Colleagues
There is no legal requirement to tell your employer that you have diabetes. But it makes it easier for everyone if they do know. You’ll find more info on this in our work section
Telling people isn’t always easy. There are many myths surrounding diabetes, and there can be stigma attached to it. If you’re lucky, you might get a response like this:
"I bet that's tough. Thanks for keeping me in the loop, and let me know if there's anything I need to do differently to help out. I'll follow your lead."
This shows that people DO care! You won’t always get an ignorant response from people when you tell them you have Type 1 diabetes. A lot of people will want to learn more about the condition and will want to try and support you in any way they can.
If you show them that diabetes doesn’t bother you, and doesn’t stop you doing the things all your friends do, it probably won’t bother them either.
If you’ve got a new partner, give a bit of an explanation about injections and blood tests and hypos to start with, and then as you get to know each other better, you can go into a bit more detail. Just think of your diabetes as another part of you that your partner will get to know about.
When Should I Tell Them?
If you can, tell them as soon as possible. This is for your own safety, and so that if something does happen, you can avoid people hounding you with questions all at once.
Coming OuT1 at Work or School
This is a factsheet that you can download and fill in to help you tell people. If you don’t feel confident enough telling people about your diabetes yourself you can give them this to take away and read. However, as diabetes is different for everybody, you may need to alter them to fit your needs.
If you still live at home, your parents still probably play quite a large part in your life, even if it is only doing the cooking, shopping and washing. So naturally they are going to be quite involved in your diabetes.
Make sure they know of any changes to your eating patterns. People with diabetes should follow the same healthy eating guidelines as the rest of the population – that’s a diet that’s low in fat, sugar and salt, with at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day – but if you’ve been given any specific advice, your parents are going to need to know.
Consider your parents feelings. They are likely to be as upset as you about the diagnosis, and may even be blaming themselves for it. Giving them information about diabetes can help, as can keeping them informed about what’s going on.
Parents are going to worry about you going out drinking and clubbing now you have diabetes. Let them know that you can manage these activities safely, but be aware that it might take some time for parents to relax about this.
If you live away from home a lot of the above will still apply, but if you don’t live at home it can be even more worrying for parents as they aren’t around day–to–day. So consider how you’re going to reassure them:
If you don’t want them on the phone all day every day, make a plan with them when you’re going to phone or when you’ll be around for them to phone you.
Some people who live alone like to have a safety system in place where they phone or text someone first thing in the morning or last thing at night to let them know you’re OK. Think about whether this might work for you and your parents.
Coming ouT1 to your Friends
When you’re newly diagnosed with diabetes, it can be difficult telling other people about it. You may feel embarrassed or uncertain about how they will react. But diabetes is nothing to be ashamed of or to hide, and you may be grateful for your friends' help and support while you adjust to having diabetes.
Your friends might know nothing about diabetes, or they may have some ideas about it that are completely inaccurate. Showing them this website might help them get a better idea about diabetes. Once you’ve started to tell them about your diabetes, they might be keen to learn more. After all, they are your friends, and they’ll be happy to know how they can support you.
On a more practical level, if you tell them what a hypo is, how it affects you and what to do if you are having one - they’ll be able to help you out.
You can reassure your friends that you will still be able to have fun and do things, but you will need to plan ahead a little more – like making sure you have something to eat when you’re drinking / clubbing, sticking to the recommended limits for alcohol (as everyone should), planning when and where you’re going to have your injection and so on.
Coming ouT1 to your Partner
It’s natural to worry that your partner will feel differently about you if they know you have diabetes - but let’s face it, would you if the situation was the other way round?
If they do think differently of you, ask yourself – do you really want a relationship with someone that shallow? You’re worth more than that!
It’s always difficult to know when to tell a new partner about your diabetes, and to be honest, there’s no right or wrong time. But it’s probably fair to say that the longer you leave it the harder it will be, and your partner will wonder why you haven’t said anything before.
They might also begin to wonder what else you’ve kept from them. So it’s probably best just to drop it into conversation sooner rather than later.
Mighty DUK's Top Tips for coming ouT1
• Your attitude in talking about your diabetes can influence how others see it.
• Use it as an opportunity to sound really intelligent! You are the expert in your diabetes and you can educate others with that knowledge. If you are struggling to tell people, try telling your best friend and they will be really supportive of you and can help you then tell other people.
• Be as honest as you feel you can be! Don't be ashamed! Come out and be proud! and tell them all the basics
• Don't ever be scared to tell people about diabetes 9 times out of 10 people find it fascinating!
• Talk to people about your insulin, when you need to take it, how you need to store it and how you get rid of your used sharps. Think about how it’s going to fit in to your family’s life. If there are young children around, think about how you’re going to keep your supplies safe.
• Make sure they know about hypos. When you’re new to diabetes, you aren’t going to be so familiar with how a hypo feels so if one creeps up on you they might need to help you out with it.
• Think about how much support you want from everyone. Being diagnosed with diabetes can be a huge shock, and can make you feel quite down. You can get more info on this in our emotional support section.
• Be aware that they might have some incorrect ideas about diabetes, especially if their only knowledge of it comes from an elderly relative. So check out anything you aren’t sure about with your healthcare team.