Managing type 1 diabetes requires constant attention. As you well know, it’s the 24/7 job you never asked for. Sometimes the constant demands of diabetes management can be overwhelming, particularly when commitments at school, at work, or in your social life compete for your time and focus.
If have recently moved away from home, you might find yourself managing diabetes on your own for the first time. In addition, you might be having challenges telling new friends and acquaintances about diabetes. Add to that the nearly constant effort to manage type 1, and is it any surprise you are experiencing burnout?
How can you deal with burnout in a way that is constructive?
First, acknowledge your feelings. Managing diabetes can be difficult, and at times, you will be tired and you may feel angry or frustrated. Don’t simply ignore your feelings. Take a moment to reflect on how hard you work and that it’s ok to feel burned out.
Second, redirect your efforts toward nurturing yourself. Slow down and consider reducing commitments in other parts of your life. Managing type 1 diabetes requires time and focus, and stress can contribute to higher glucose levels. You can’t go at top speed all areas of your life, and when you do, your diabetes care is sometimes the first thing to suffer.
Take advantage of the resources available to you:
Find a support network. If you are on a college campus, consider getting involved with the local chapter of College Diabetes Network or Students with Diabetes. Or, consider attending a social event sponsored by the local JDRF or ADA chapter.
If you prefer to read, check out Diabetes Burnout: What to Do When You Can’t Take it Anymore by William Polonsky or Dealing with Diabetes Burnout by Ginger Vieira. A new book by Adam Brown entitled, Bright Spots & Landmines: The Diabetes Guide I Wish Someone Had Handed Me is also worth the read.
Finally, ask your diabetes care team for help. If you are worried it’s more than just burnout, you might need a referral for additional support. And remember, go easy on yourself. The number on your meter or CGM is not a judgment on your worth as a person, it is a number. Keep things in perspective and set realistic goals. And remember, you are a champion, even if no one can see the invisible work you do each day to conquer diabetes.