Chronic illness is not only about individual responsibility

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We like to think, especially in America, that it’s all about the individual. Everyone can “pull themselves up by their boot straps,” and if you’re failing, you’re not pulling hard enough. It’s not true.

This was a fascinating article about how some of us living with diabetes are impacted, uplifted and held down by “the system,” with a lens on how the U.S. policy on immigration has helped manufacture and worsen disease.

Excerpts from article in italics:

“Within a few years, the disease would rage out of control, causing her kidneys to fail, her leg to be amputated, and, within a decade, her death. Lacking any known genetic predisposition to diabetes, María and her mother saw the disease as a product of their estrangement.”

We constantly dismiss societal impacts on illness – How is our food grown and brought to market? What’s affordable and what isn’t? How and where do people grow up and settle?

“Blaming personal behavior is just a convenient evasion. The mismatch between “bad” foods that move freely—and people who cannot—is the real culprit behind a global health crisis.”

What resources or supports are in your community? What challenges do you live with? What financial resources do you have?

“Weathering”—the way the body responds to cumulative disadvantage and discrimination—takes a toll, affecting endocrinological, metabolic, and immune systems, and accelerating the onset and progression of disease.”

Chronic illness is a combination of self-efficacy, what you can do and social-efficacy, what society has put in place.

“Globalization has brought industrialized food to all, while undermining people’s livelihoods. These disruptions to local food and economic systems are, we believe, some of the biggest drivers of noncommunicable chronic diseases.”

For not only does society contribute to illness, sometimes it’s the leading cause.






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