Monday, 9 May 2016

A letter: Diabetes burnout

whom it may concern,

If you're feeling burnout, you're probably not too sure what it is you're experiencing at the moment, it's a time that leaves you wondering what it is that's going on, why have you lost the desire to control your blood sugar? Diabetes burnout is probably one of the biggest challenges a diabetic might face, it is a huge barrier to overcome. The feeling of defeat, the sense of failure, the lack of motivation to look after yourself, can weigh you down immensely and leave you pushing diabetes and all that it entails to the back of your mind. I've been there, so if you're in this position, I know how you're feeling. Even more so, I know that whatever you're feeling right now, you can come out the other side.

I know that a lot of Health Care Professionals tend to ignore the emotional side of a life with Type 1 Diabetes, we have a massive responsibility right from the moment we're diagnosed. Immediately it becomes ours and our parents duty to keep us alive...and I feel like in the moment, a lot of people don't have the time or the capacity to fully absorb it, you go with the diagnosis and you get on with it- because right there, at that point, your focus is on "Ok, so what do I have to do to control this?" The frustrated thoughts come after, when you're more comfortable with Type 1 Diabetes and your mind starts to wander. Am I right? I feel like that's what process my emotions went through. When frustrations occur, you begin to push diabetes out, it all gets a bit overwhelming, and with that comes lack of motivation. Being your own pancreas is tiring, and sometimes we don't just get physically tired, but tired deep down, a tired soul.

I won't say diabetes burnout is denying it, because I don't think that's it. I spent a good two years feeling like I was stuck in a rut with my diabetes control and for the longest time I could not put my finger on consultant tried to get me to see a psychologist and I always said no, I would go when I knew what I was feeling, when I knew why I always had a HbA1c of over 10% and as bad as it sounds I didn't care. I don't think you're in denial, you're tired of the emotions, it's easier to ignore it, isn't it? It's easier to stay high and not check your blood sugar because you know it's high, and seeing the number on your blood sugar meter probably won't make you take a correction's easier to just eat and not bother injecting or bolusing because then you don't have to carb count, or take an injection or get your insulin pump's all thought processes like that, that I think make up diabetes burnout. It shouldn't be easy or the better option to ignore your health, but when you're feeling burnout with diabetes you lose that motivation, you find yourself not caring about something that you should care about, and you know that you're putting yourself at risk of complications, you know full well the strain you are putting your body through but it's not enough, it won't kick start you into looking after your blood sugar.

When I was admitted to hospital for nearly 3 weeks to get my blood sugar back under control, all the emotions that diabetes entails came back to me. I remembered what it was to fear having a hypo, I remembered what it was to have calloused fingers, but above all I remembered what it was to feel okay again. Through all the rubbish that diabetes puts us through, through everything that we get tired of, we feel well. I had to take that moment, I had to grab it with both hands and keep it...that moment of remembering why we do what we do, why we have to do what we do. What I say to you is, find that interest in your blood sugar again, make a pact to yourself that when you get up in the morning you will check your blood sugar and give insulin, it's a start, it will help you get back into routine...and then take that interest in what your next blood sugar might be as a result...I found that is what helped me immensely. Tell yourself that you're worth it, you're worth the fight, fight for yourself, find that light, find that motivation, we all have it! If and WHEN you get that desire back, run with it.

Another thing I will say to you is do not be too proud or too stubborn to accept help. I was like this for a very long time in that I would not go and see a psychologist, mainly because I didn't see the need because I had to understand what I was going through myself before trying to explain it to anyone else, but also because I did not want anyone to think I was "crazy" and after constant reassurance from my parents and my consultant that I am not mad if I go and see a psychologist, and after having time to think about it I agreed. It helped, it really did. Even if you feel like there is no point, you might find that voicing your thoughts is a really helpful exercise. So, if you have the chance to see a psychologist, if your diabetes clinic has that service available to you, take advantage it.

I'll leave you with this, unfortunately we're stuck with this until they find a cure. It's not going to go away. and giving yourself some TLC and working hard to get that motivation back is SO worth it, it is not worth ignoring your feelings of burnout, I know it's hard when you get stuck in that rut, but don't put your health in danger any longer, you are stronger than burnout you know you can do it deep down, I would always say that I couldn't do it and that I'm "rubbish" at looking after diabetes, but when I achieved a HbA1c of 7.3% I said to myself that if ever I felt burnt out again, to remind myself I've overcome it once before and I can do it again, and when you finally overcome it the sense of pride will be wonderful, trust me.

I know it's tough and it's frustrating and it's easier to ignore it, tell yourself it's not easier to ignore it, although the complications do not scare you if you're feeling burnt out, it is not going to be easy having a body that's been ruined by Type 1 Diabetes- don't let it ruin you, don't let it control you. Trust me, you will find that sense of motivation again, you will get back into routine and that want to control diabetes again will return and when you find it, hold on to it.

Someone who knows exactly what you're feeling


  1. I think your blog is very important. Bravo for the courage to write it.

    I referred your blog to the TUDiabetes web page for the week of May 9, 2016.

  2. Dear Ellie!

    Thank you so much for this! Couldn't said it any better.

    I think this post is going to help a lot of diabetics and give them much needed courage, it certainly did that for me. And every time I'm going to feel like burning out again, I'm going to come back, read that blog post again and get the much needed strength!
    I'm so glad, that there is someone who can type out the words that all the diabetics all over the world can relate to and feel like they are not alone.
    Your blog is amazing, keep up the good work!

    Greetings from Estonia! :)

  3. I hit my burnout point 20 years ago. And I've been living with that for the last 20 years. The one doctor I told about it told me there was no such thing, pull my socks up and get back into doing what I should be doing or x, y and z consequences. I test, I take injections, but that's just because I've been ground into a routine. It's nice to know someone else has felt the same, but there's no cure for the burnout. I might come out the other side, at some point. But that's a long way away.

  4. People who have diabetes will face frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger etc. If it’s left untreated, diabetes can cause many complications like stroke, chronic kidney disease, foot ulcers, and damage to the eyes etc. People shouldn’t wait who have this disease. The best option will be if affected person take consultant for diabetes treatment