By: Chris Ruden
Diabetes burnout is real. All the tedious finger-pricking and annoying alarms and evasive blood sugars and meandering moods get to you eventually. It can get exhausting, rightfully so.
For some, burnout is an emotional state & for some, it is an action or actions. Either way, it is a very real part of living with a condition for the rest of your life. It is important to recognize what diabetes burnout is– the signs and symptoms– and to figure out how to push through it.
Diabetes Burnout: The Emotional State
Diabetes burnout doesn’t always mean extremely high sugars and self abandonment. Burnout can simply be you completely tired of the repetitive behaviors life with diabetes requires. This emotional state of “blah” can affect people to different severities. Maybe you are just really annoyed with your diabetes, or maybe you mistake it for depression, or maybe you just kind of close off to the world mentally.
Regardless of YOUR version of burnout, it is your right as a diabetic to feel this. It should not be accompanied by guilt or shame or judgement. This condition, a condition no one asked for, is a huge weight to bear. It is natural for us to burnout temporarily and does not make us a bad patient. It does not make us a bad person either.
No one has the right to tell you otherwise, especially someone who doesn’t know what living with diabetes is like.
Diabetes Burnout: Behaviors
When people burnout, sometimes it stops at negative thought processes but, sometimes, those negative thought processes manifest themselves into behaviors.
Personally, when I’ve found myself to be burnt out in the past, I’ve caught myself checking my sugar 1 time a day (or less), taking insulin off of “feeling”, and not correcting at the right times. My burnout can get pretty bad. Does that make me a bad person? Does that mean I’m reckless or ignorant or less than a “good” diabetic?
It means I’m human. It means life can get hard for even the strongest of people. And that’s OK. It is a moment. It is a temporary state of frustration that you are fully entitled to at times. It is a reaction to an incurable disease. I don’t feel bad for admitting the truth and neither should you. But you do have to shake it off in time.
“For every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction” might be Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion but it is absolutely applicable in diabetes burnout in terms of cause and effect.
Was it one specific event that set you off or the combination of all the arduous tasks and occurrences and variables that led you to burn out? It is important to attempt to identify the why. For me, a series of unfortunate events like my pump running low of insulin while I’m out or a week of off blood sugars can lead me towards burn out, just by the chain reaction of events that sometimes follow.
Try and take a step back and see what caused your specific burnout and then you can begin becoming proactive in the future.
What You Can Do
While there maybe a moment where you just want to reflect alone, there also comes a time to “get back on the horse” so-to-speak. This is where effective thinking can really help you.
Ask yourself “ What can I do now and from now on to make this better or at least to make this suck less?”
Facebook support groups for diabetics are an amazing outlet for like minded people to vent, learn, and just feel understood.
Diabetic events are also an awesome place to meet fellow diabetics and really feel a sense of belonging.
The worst thing you can do is hide. Don’t seclude yourself from society in thinking no one understands. Trust me, we get it and we get you. No one is perfect but diabetes burnout is perfectly normal. Reach out for support. Vent when you need to. Take your time. And, most importantly, don’t beat yourself up over a temporary burnout– it’s allowed and it’s your right as a diabetic to experience it.