Diabetes burnout: how do you cope?

Updated: Feb 20

Living with Type 1 Diabetes is taxing on the mind.

From my experience, diabetes burnout is a period where you become physically, emotionally and mentally drained from the constant worry and burden of juggling a demanding medical condition alongside everyday life.

It’s the ‘fuck it’ attitude you get when you no longer have the energy to care about whether your blood glucose is in range or whether you’ve injected the correct amount of insulin (or even at all). It’s the point in your relationship with diabetes where you can no longer stand its presence and need out. It’s where you feel so deflated and tired from being its slave that you no longer care about your health and whether you suffer as a result of poor management.

When I was around 17, I experienced diabetes burnout after a long period of my blood glucose yo-yo’ing up and down, despite my upmost efforts to control my condition. It got to the point where worry and the feeling of failure consumed so much of my time that I threw my hands up and refused to let it control my life anymore.

I found myself not testing my blood glucose or caring about whether I’d injected or not. As a teenager, the last thing you want to be worrying about is a serious life-long medical condition. It was annoying to see everyone else go about their day without questioning whether they needed to eat or inject before doing a certain activity. I was furious that I had been dealt such a shitty card and no longer wanted it to have me on a leash.

The consequences of my Britney 07 moment led to a significant spike in my HbA1c and left me feeling tired and lethargic from my blood glucose running high every day. The tips of my fingers began to go numb and in general I just felt awful.

There really is no escape from this condition. As much as I wish I could divorce it, we’re joined at the hip until the day I die.

It’s OK and normal to feel this way sometimes. If you do, it’s important to be kind to yourself and get the support you need.

How do I manage diabetes burnout?

Living with T1D makes you a carer. Being a carer is an exhausting job for anyone; constantly on edge and tired from the weight of the responsibility. Carers often get support, so it’s important that we do too.

Talk to someone.

Don’t suffer in silence. Confide in friends of family if you can. I’m extremely lucky to have family and friends who are so understanding and supportive of my condition. Most of them have seen every aspect of living with the beast and know how it can affect me emotionally. I’ve found that just having a good rant and getting the anger out of your head and into words helps massively. Most of the time this is all I need for a hard personal reset.

Seek help.

Whether you believe it or not, your diabetes team are there to help you on the physical and emotional side of living with diabetes. Talk to them about your concerns and worries. They will have probably heard it all before and will know the best way to overcome any distress and obstacles you find yourself facing. Help is out there; you just need to ask for it.

Your mind is a temple.

Always be kind to yourself. T1D is a hidden disease, so those around you have no idea of the struggles we face every day. Lower your expectations about how well your control should be and set yourself smaller goals. If you aim too high for what you can achieve at the time, you’ll constantly feel like a failure.

Remind yourself that normal people don’t have to deal with all of this on the side of daily life. We have a lot more stress and responsibility. If everyone else on the planet lived with T1D too I’m sure they would be in the same position. It’s OK to feel sorry for yourself from time to time.

Having T1D isn’t fair, but neither is life. It could always be worse. I found that co-operating with your condition is a far better alternative than avoiding it. Believe me I’ve tried it.

Educate yourself

I can’t stress this point enough. Learning the ins and outs of your condition is essential for managing both your physical and emotional wellbeing. You can find a lot of information about diabetes here.

Not only does it give you an understanding about what insulin does in your body, but it will also give you peace of mind if you struggle with issues such as a fear of injecting or a fear of hypo’s.

Since I decided to learn about what diabetes is, how insulin works and why my blood glucose responds differently to different factors, I have drastically reduced a lot of the anxiety I faced every day.

A quick share of this post onto facebook or twitter could help so many others with issues they face with their diabetes. Every person we reach matters!

Diabetes & Anxiety eBook

My first hand account on Type 1 Diabetes and Anxiety is aimed at anyone living with the condition.

Like all Type 1's, I too suffered with dreadful anxiety balancing my Diabetes with everyday life.

Being a carer is tough, but it's even tougher when you can never have a break.

Learn how T1D has affected my mental health, and more importantly, what I do to manage it. Topics covered include: Overview of mental health with chronic illness, fear of hypo's, fear of injecting, burnout & how to face it head on, self help techniques I employ.

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