Gary McClain, PhD, is a therapist, patient advocate, and writer who specializes in helping clients—as well as their family members and professional caregivers—deal with the emotional impact of chronic and life-threatening illnesses.
If you are experiencing diabetic burnout, chances are you are also experiencing some strong emotions. Anger. Frustration. Fear. Sadness.
So you might be asking, how is talking supposed to help?
First, trying to be the strong silent type and keeping your feelings inside only allows your feelings to get stronger and stronger. This also serves to keep you stuck in that downward spiral of helplessness and hopelessness that causes diabetic burnout in the first place.
Second, when you talk about feelings with someone else, you are also talking to yourself. Talking about your feelings helps your mind make sense of your own emotions and helps you get some perspective on what’s causing you to feel burnt out.
7 tips to help you talk about diabetes burnout
Ready to reach out for a listening ear? Here’s how to get the conversation started:
1. Find someone who can listen. Not everybody can talk about emotions, so choose someone who can, such as a friend, a family member, or a healthcare professional. You might be surprised at who can help if you give them a chance.
2. Take the direct approach. Say something like, “I’m having a hard time with everything I have to do to manage my diabetes. To be honest, I am burnt out. Can I talk about how I’m feeling?”
3. Be clear about your expectations. If you are talking to friends or family members, you may want to make it clear that you aren’t looking for a solution. Say something like, “I don’t need you to give me advice or try to fix me. And I hope you won’t judge me for feeling this way. All I need is a listening ear.” But if you are talking to a healthcare professional or another diabetic and want advice, then let that be known.
4. Identify the emotions you are feeling. Keep it simple, and don’t second guess yourself. “I feel ____ .” If you aren’t used to talking about feelings, then this step may not be so easy. But give it a try. Once you get started, it gets a lot easier.
5. Feel free to vent. Getting it all out might start with that rush of strong feelings that is often referred to as venting. If you aren’t sure if the person you are talking with is willing to listen to strong emotions, just ask. “I am feeling really frustrated. Do you mind if I vent for a couple of minutes?” If the other person doesn't want to hear strong emotions, then find someone who does.
6. You don’t have to explain anything. This isn’t about criticizing or making excuses for yourself. If the other person starts to take the conversation in that direction, politely but firmly remind the person that you just want to talk about your feelings. “We don’t have to analyze this. It’s just something I’m going through right now.”
7. Don’t neglect your emotions. Ideally, talking about your feelings should be part of your daily routine, rather than bottling them up. Remember that taking care of yourself emotionally is an important aspect of diabetic self-care. Focus on body, mind, and spirit. Build feeling words into your daily vocabulary and avoid the big build-up.
If you don’t have anyone who can listen to how you feel, you have a lot of people right here who get what it’s like to feel burnt out, and they are standing by to offer you support. Reach out. Start a discussion. Keep us posted!