“I just don’t think about my diabetes. It’s too complicated and I’m too busy.”
“I’ve given up on carb counting and just eat whatever.”
“If my blood sugar is out of range, I just don’t care.”
“Family and friends don’t support me. ”
“I feel hopeless.”
If these statements sound familiar – like the way you’ve been feeling – you are not alone. Living with a chronic condition is challenging and can be exhausting. It is not surprising that many people experience fatigue and burnout.
For people with diabetes, there are physiological reasons for the fatigue. Hypo- and hyperglycemia, glucose variability are factors that can impact the central nervous system.
Likewise, there is a significant amount of self-management involved in living with diabetes.
The pancreas is an integral part of a complex system. When it is functioning properly, the amounts of insulin are perfectly attuned to the needs of the body. Expecting this type of perfection in someone whose pancreas is not functioning properly or in someone whose body cells are resistant to insulin, is not reasonable. Controlling diabetes, being a pancreas, is not truly possible. Unfortunately, expectations of this kind may be part of your experience with diabetes.
In fact, in people living with type 2 diabetes who are compelled to start using insulin treatment can feel that they have “failed.” In fact, the language around diabetes is about “control” or “mastering” diabetes. Negative experiences can add up, low self-esteem can result and the cumulative effect is diabetes burnout. If there is a lack of help or social support from family and friends, burnout is likely to be even worse.
What to do when you are experiencing burnout
Keeping up with the numbers in your head can be too much and can become a significant burden. There are a number of apps available to help with carb counting. Medication management and stay on schedule as well as blood sugar trackers that track carbs, insulin and exercise can help.
Negative emotions and intense feelings need to be expressed but also effectively processed. Therapy can be useful to help with dealing with feelings depressive feelings or feelings of being at a loss.
When you experience stress, hormones like epinephrine and cortisol are released. These hormones activate the release of glucagon from the pancreas. Glucagon tells your liver to break down the glycogen it has been storing into glucose which is released into your blood. This is one way that stress affects your blood sugar. Meditation and physical activity that reduces stress are effective ways to help manage diabetes. There are mobile apps that provide guided medications to help you to reduce stress.
Celebrate the small wins
Don’t dwell on the problems. Celebrate the small wins that you have. And give yourself a break, allowing yourself to breathe and get back on track.
It may be time to regroup and see a diabetes educator. Major changes in life, in your physical, mental health or even your financial situation, can impact you so that you need to regroup and tweak your management plans.