I know I’m preaching to the converted here, but living with diabetes is a 24/7 thing. One of my favourite diabetes blogs is by Cara and the title is Every Day Hour Minute . Sums it up pretty well, really.
Diabetes burnout is something that’s experienced by a lot of people with diabetes. Much has been written on the topic, including the fabulous book, Diabetes Burnout by William Polanski. Many of us can grasp the concept of what diabetes burnout means: a lack of motivation about managing our diabetes; feeling frustrated and overwhelmed at the thought of performing diabetes ‘tasks’ and a general feeling of being ‘over it’. The thing is, for many of us, when we’re in the grips of actually dealing with a period of burnout, the ability to understand just what burnout is disappears.
While I have never been diagnosed with depression, anxiety or any other mental health condition requiring medication, I certainly can speak first hand of my experiences with diabetes burnout. I say this not to distance myself from people living with any mental health condition, but to point out that because burnout is experienced by so many people living with diabetes, it may not be considered as serious. We need to be clear that it may be ‘common’, but that does not diminish how real it is, how scary it can be or how guilty we feel if we neglect our usual diabetes routine as a result of burnout.
It’s a recurring theme in weekly Twitter chats; comments on diabetes support Facebook pages and brought up frequently at our information sessions. Clearly, people are crying out for information that addresses the issues and looking to connect with others who are going through the same thing. Sometimes that connection and support is a step to helping us deal with the burnout. For me, I know that being around people with diabetes (in real life and cyber space) makes me feel motivated and more interested in my diabetes management.
The Diabetes MILES – Australia* study reported that 28 per cent of adults with type 1 diabetes experienced severe diabetes-related distress. That number would be considerably more for people experiencing mild to moderate distress levels.
Building regular screening for diabetes burnout into our check ups is necessary to help us not only work through these periods, but to help identify triggers that may contribute to the burnout. The Diabetes MILES – Australia report says that: diabetes-related distress [is] unlikely to be detected routinely without systematic screening and monitoring. It’s time for this to be happening now.
Renza Scibilia is the Manager of Type 1 Diabetes and Community Programs at DA–Vic. She has lived with type 1 diabetes since 1998. The opinions and thoughts expressed in her occasional blogs are her own.
DA–Vic Note: If you are feeling down because of your diabetes, or you have depression and have just been diagnosed with diabetes speak to your doctor or diabetes educator for more information and support. You don’t have to deal with this on your own.
Minding Diabetes is a website that has been designed to help you to identify any problem areas you may have with the emotional aspects of diabetes, and to get help and information.
*The Diabetes MILES – Australia survey was conducted by The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes, a partnership for better health between Diabetes Australia – Vic and Deakin University. Read the full report or get snapshot view with the one page highlights