I sent my mom my pump upload and counted to ten. It was sophomore year, and I had not really been feeling my best. I knew it was bad. Really bad. But I didn’t want to admit it. Right on cue the phone rang. I said a quick prayer and answered.
What followed next was a culmination of tears, arguments, excuses, and bottom lines. I didn’t have an answer to the “What have you been doing to yourself?” question from my mom and I had hit bottom. Rock bottom. I had fallen victim to diabetes burnout and needed the “Come to Jesus” talk as my mom likes to call them (She’s Jesus in this scenario in case you were wondering).
I think diabetes burn out is unintentional. I didn’t wake up one day and think “Hmmm I am going to be burnt-out today”. A lot of times I do not even notice I am burnt-out until I realize I have high blood sugar the majority of the time and I feel like crap.
It happens when class work piles on, work schedules get busy, friendships are booming, and there are a million other things in the world I would rather be doing. I mean who really sees pricking your finger, figuring out carb counts and temp basals, voluntarily shoving needles into your abdomen and legs as fun, and furthermore as a priority? I certainly don’t. If we did I don’t think we would have such a thing as burnout.
Getting out of it is hard. Hard? It’s nearly impossible.
Once you finally realize your burnt-out all of the emotions you were suppressing hit you like a tidal wave. It is a blindside of anger, sadness, shame, frustration, guilt and fear you didn’t know existed. I am angry that this is happening to me when my peers appear to live carefree lives. I am sad because I feel like a failure. I am ashamed that I can’t complete what are essentially easy (just undesirable) tasks. I am frustrated that diabetes has come to the forefront of my life during this time. I feel guilty that my mom sees it as giving up on myself and my health, and fear if I will ever be able to get out of it?
You have to ask for help. My beacon of light is my Type 3, my Mom. Not only because she is a CDE and can give me tangible tools and pump changes to get my management back on track, but she cares. I know when I cried to her on the phone back in sophomore year, tears were in here eyes too. As a mom who lost her own brother to complications of diabetes she has seen a reality that I have not, and one she wants to avoid. When I am not healthy and at a minimum not doing the mandatory tasks, it is heart wrenching to her. She feels the pain of diabetes burnout every time I do.
She doesn’t want to hear her Grade A student is sleeping through class because her blood sugar is high. Or that she has no motivation to go to the gym because she feels like crap. She doesn’t want her daughter to feel this burden. To feel hopeless and to feel like a failure. And her least favorite thing to do is be the disciplinarian, but someone has to do it and she refuses to watch from the side, helpless. We must find common ground and move forward in a loving, non-judgmental fashion.
And lastly you have to reach a point where you are willing to accept the help being offered. I have had to set my pride aside at times and stop fighting the system and those who are there to help me. Not checking your blood sugar is not an option. Not giving your insulin is not an option. But sometimes you just need some extra encouragement and someone to tell you diabetes sucks, and it is okay.
It is okay to be burnt out. It happens to everyone. You just can’t stay burnt out. You just need your beacon of light.