Any diabetic will tell you that numbers are just the surface of diabetes. Blood sugar readings are what our doctors care about – but diabetes is not JUST biological. It’s psychological, too. And taking care of our emotional wellbeing is usually not given enough priority in the diabetic community.
I was diagnosed and immediately took on the mindset of “It is what it is.” It was a good way to think about it at first, I think. I never turned inward or went through a period of wondering why diabetes happened to me. But, on the flip side, I was reluctant to let myself feel anything about diabetes. I wouldn’t let myself grieve on the bad days or celebrate on the good days. Nothing about diabetes was worth getting worked up over in my mind, because like I said, “it is what it is.” That buildup of emotion always explodes at some point. For me, the warning signs start before I hit a wall. I get more and more anxious about my diabetes to the point where it’s all I can think about.
Now, those are the signs I look for to indicate burnout. I’ve learned from countless burnouts that seeing a counselor helps me check in with myself every once in a while. When you feel yourself getting burned out, the key is to stop everything for a little while. Stop thinking about your blood sugar, stop checking the CGM app on your phone, and instead of thinking, just listen. Listen to yourself, your body, what you’re feeling. Notice how you’re coping. Is your coping mechanism working for you?
These are lessons we diabetics have to learn for ourselves, which I think is a shame. No one ever tells us that at some point, we will become so sick of diabetes that we will want to stop treating it altogether. The simple fact that our emotional health isn’t prioritized in regular endo meetings shows that there is a disconnect between health care providers and T1D patients. But I’ve seen this getting better – there are so many resources online that talk about burn out and being emotionally healthy with T1D. That’s something I didn’t have when I was diagnosed, which just shows that things are getting better, no matter how it feels sometimes.