I’ve been thinking a lot about diabetes burnout lately. A lot.
I have been burnt out for a long time now – it’s been 18 months. I can see how it started – I know the trigger. I miscarried in terrible circumstances and, after the constant monitoring and intense management that comes with trying to get pregnant and then conceiving, losing the baby allowed me to ‘take a break’.
I’ve not come back from that break.
My question is this: When does it stop being ‘diabetes burnout’ and become something more? And what is the ‘more’?
We use the term burnout so much in diabetes; I feel that I’ve become a little desensitised. It’s the norm – most people go through periods where they are so unmotivated that they can’t deal with their diabetes, or pay less attention than they typically would. But how long is ‘normal’? How long can we go on like this?
My burnout is scaring me because it has been going on for so long. I fear I’ll never get my mojo back and actually get to a point where I am able to care for my diabetes in a capable way.
I go through periods of so few BGL tests that my meter resets itself. I have not seen my endo for far too long and I’m way behind in my complications screening. The only thing I am up to date with is eye screening because I had cataract surgery in the last twelve months.
A button on my pump has been playing up for over 3 months – half the time taking three or four attempts to get it to work – and instead of getting straight on the phone to the company’s customer service team and organising a replacement, I let it slide until Monday, when I realised that next week I am getting on a plane and going away for 6 weeks and if I don’t get it sorted I’ll end up with a dead pump while overseas.
I’m taking my insulin, although haven’t basal tested for a long while and know that the rates need adjusting. I ‘blind bolus’ a lot of the time. Wearing a CGM is useful because it gives me an idea of my glucose levels, but I don’t actually do anything constructive with the data I am receiving.
I keep in touch with the online community which is my link to seeing and hearing how others are coping. While I don’t participate in every week’s OzDOC chat, when I do get there I feel supported and know that I have people to turn to if I need them. I guess I’m not completely disengaged.
A nasty hypo often gives me a shock and I get a few days of decent and frequent monitoring out of it, but this is short-lived and I fall back into minimal self-care pretty quickly.
And I feel totally and completely shit about the whole thing. And guilty. Of course I feel guilty.
In a couple of years of some pretty difficult stuff, diabetes is the thing that I can let go of. At least, I feel I can. I mean, I can’t stop being a mum. I can’t stop being a wife, daughter, sister, friend. I can’t stop coming to work. I can’t stop doing the things I need to do to be a functioning human. But I can stop with the self-care.
And because I am an idiot, or in denial, or just plain over it, I can’t see just how short-sighted this thinking is. I may be getting through the day and doing all those things that I tell myself I can’t stop doing. But how is all that going to work if something actually does happen as a result of my minimal self-care?
I honestly don’t know where to go from here. I feel paralysed and unable to make decisions that I know may help me start with some baby steps to get back on track. Is it a matter of re-engaging with my HCPs and talking to them for strategies? Do I try to set myself tiny goals, like a morning BGL check each day – or even every second day – that is achievable and will start to give me some data to work with? Do I go back to seeing a psychologist again and discuss ways to get back on track?
I don’t know.
It all seems too exhausting. It all seems too damn hard.
Is this burnout? Or is it something more?
I really don’t know.