Ginger Vieira was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 13, celiac disease a year later, and fibromyalgia in 2014. Ginger provides great insights into life with multiple chronic illnesses, including how to make the most of your life despite your health setbacks.
If you've ever felt guilty for feeling exhausted from dealing with diabetes management, you're not alone. If you've ever felt embarrassed for slacking off on your blood sugar control or for eating more carbohydrates or sugary foods than usual, you're not alone.
If you've ever felt totally burnt out on diabetes, you are definitely not alone.
Diabetes never takes a break! It's 24/7, 365 days a year. Can you think of any other part of your life that demands that much of you? Even as a parent, you get to go on dates while the babysitter takes over. At work, you get the weekends off and holiday vacations. But with diabetes, it's non-stop. There's no vacation and no babysitter.
So it's only inevitable that you get tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted. In fact, we should expect and maybe even welcome a little burnout from time to time.
We could anticipate that it will happen, rather than fight it. We could acknowledge when it arrives rather then try to pretend it isn't there or get caught up in feeling ashamed of ourselves. We could step back and say, "Whoa, okay, my burnout has arrived! And it's totally okay because diabetes is hard work!"
The result of embracing our burnout rather than feeling ashamed of it is that we can actually work through it.
For me, my most recent burnout revolved purely around feeling really tired of pricking my fingers. I test my blood sugar eight to 10 times a day, and my fingers are really starting to feel the wear and tear. I started to feel angry and resentful every time I felt the sting of that lancet pricking my finger. I actually said aloud, "I am so sick of pricking my fingers!"
Simply saying it out loud, acknowledging and facing it, was more relieving than trying to suck it up and pretend those feelings weren't there.
If your burnout means you wind up backing off on your diabetes care a bit (but not to a point that could be life-threatening) that's okay. Make a decision out loud: "I'm feeling burnt out on diabetes management because _____, and I'm going to spend the next week giving myself space to back-off on diabetes a little."
Or maybe you simply need a friend to listen. Just talking about it could help get some of it out of your head and out of your way.
In the end, just remember that you are not alone in your burnout! Give yourself a tremendous pat on the back for simply facing diabetes every day.