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Diabetes burnout

Diabetes requires constant decisions regarding self-management choices and taking the demands of the condition into account. It is common that the responsibility for self-management and meeting your own expectations may at times feel like a heavy burden.

Managing diabetes in everyday life is demanding. There can be various reasons behind diabete burnout. Even if one has adapted to the diabetes, there can be situations in life where one's own difference compared to others and the effects of diabetes on one's life may become more pronounced and draining. For instance, in particularly busy study or work situations, the attention required by diabetes and self-management can feel overwhelming. Other changes, losses, and challenges in life may also weigh so heavily that resources for diabetes care diminish. The most important thing amidst a burnout is to remember that diabetes requires self-management, but not solo-management.

What do my emotions tell me?

In diabetes burnout, feelings of inadequacy and the associated guilt often predominate. Limited resources and reduced coping may lead to a decline in self-management, which in turn may lead to an increase in feelings of inadequacy and guilt. This could create a self-perpetuating cycle. Even if one knows how to care for oneself, for one reason or another, they might not be able to maintain care routines and/or healthy lifestyles. The knowledge that one is not acting as they should can further increase feeling of guilt.

Guilt is a feeling that follows the experience of having done something wrong or having neglected to do something. If you feel guilty, pause and reflect on this emotion. What is the feeling trying to tell you? Is it saying that you demand perfection from yourself, and if so, could you be more kind to yourself? Is your current situation such that you cannot give your all, and could temporarily lowering your standards break the cycle of guilt and inadequacy?

Sometimes feelings of guilt suggest that in addition to diabetes care, there are other challenges in life, and there isn't enough time or energy to handle everything adequately. What kind of help or support do you feel you need at such times? The most important thing is to identify the reasons behind the emotions, as prolonged guilt and other negative feelings can become very burdensome.

Am I carrying outdated information and habits with me?

If you have had diabetes for a long time and are a "diabetes veteran", you may still vividly remember things told about diabetes decades ago, based on the knowledge of that time, about the expected lifespan, complications from diabetes, and life's limitations. Fears and bad memories might be stuck in your mind. Despite advancements in tools and treatments, you might feel that you haven't coped well enough with diabetes. Stagnant thinking and attitude can lead to inflexibility in accepting and implementing changes in treatment.

If your diabetes burnout is rooted in a dysfunctional thinking and attitude, it is possible to change, provided there's the desire and courage for change, and you don't face it alone. Talking with others facing similar challenges and peer support can often be relieving. Even just a few discussions focused on change with your caregiver or a psychologist can be helpful.

Updated 30.9.2023