Before I begin, I would like to cover what I’m sure you all are thinking: what is a burnout? Well, a burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. It is one of the worst feelings in the world. You feel like the world is closing in on you and it’s time to give up. It is so important to understand what a burnout is because anyone can be going through it, not just diabetics. However, you always have to remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and this feeling will go away.
No one really understands what I’m talking about when I say I am having a burnout. They sort of just nod and try to agree. Having a 24/7 disease, there are no breaks or vacations. You must keep track of everything all the time. I tend to have burnouts when I have rollercoasters with my blood sugar (meaning it is high and low constantly). Another time I have burnouts is when I know my doctors appointments are not going to be good when I visit. I stop giving enough attention to my diabetes because sometimes it gets overwhelming. I know when the appointments are going to be bad when my blood sugars are out of range for at least two weeks prior to the appointment. This is very dangerous. There are some serious outcomes to not paying attention to your diabetes, the worst one being death.
I only know I’m burning out when it's too late. Once I get in the burnout cycle, I just have to push through until I come to the realization that I am meant to be on this journey with diabetes and it’s not going to go away even if I try to make it. When I had my first burnout, I didn’t really know what was happening. I had never felt that overwhelmed before. It was like everything I tried to do just didn’t work out. I could try to be so good and have perfect blood sugars, when in reality there is nothing perfect about having diabetes. Now, I try to find different ways to overcome a burnout. They don’t happen as regularly as they did when I was younger because now I know how to control them and figure everything out. A few months ago I was burning out and decided it was best if I started keeping a log on when I changed my sites, what my blood sugar was when I checked it, and what foods I ate. This has really helped because when my blood sugar is high and there is no reason because I gave myself insulin and I haven't eaten in hours, I know that it could have been the food I was eating. Though burnouts feel neverending, trust me when I tell you that they do end. You will get better. It takes time, but the outcome will be amazing!
It’s hard to handle school, my diabetes, and outside activities when diabetes is a 24/7 disease, but once I get my head clear, I realize that the state I had been in was horrible and that I need to focus more on my health without overwhelming myself. Something I have just started doing recently, but has already had a big influence on my life, is having a “Happy Days” jar. Everyday that something exciting or memorable happens, you write it down, fold it up, and put it in a jar. If you are ever feeling like there is something on your shoulders, holding you down, pull one out and remember the times when you were happy. Always remember there are more good days than bad!