Burnout syndrome in diabetics. Causes and ways to overcome

He is your constant companion. Early morning. During breakfast. During the trip to work. During the presentation in front of partners. On the way to the gym. During the next attempt to give your body a good physical exertion. During dinner. And also late in the evening and even late at night when he needs to eat or drink again.

He demands your attention every day and every minute. We should not forget about him and he should not be ignored, because he is so naughty.

No, I’m not at all about a newborn baby who sleeps a lot and lets his mom have a little rest. I am about type 1 diabetes. When he appears in life, office work, which previously seemed to take up most of your life, becomes a real paradise.

At a minimum, a newborn baby smiles from time to time and gives others joy. What about type 1 diabetes? He leaves dozens of traces of daily punctures on the fingers. He is like an insatiable vampire, constantly hungry for the next dose of your blood.

Undoubtedly, all of us, people living with type 1 diabetes, understand that our disease requires constant attention and responsibility, and also causes us physical pain every day. But each of us falls into a stupor and shock when one day he realizes that there is no longer any strength and energy to continue the fight against diabetes.

Burnout syndrome. More than just a syndrome …

When they talk about burnout syndrome in diabetics, people usually imagine the worst scenario: a patient with diabetes deliberately stabs just as much insulin as is necessary to maintain their vital activity, and does not check blood glucose for weeks. But this scenario is far from the only possible one. Burnout syndrome can manifest itself in different forms, different scales and for many different reasons.

You may have felt tired of living with diabetes, because the blood sugar level falls again during sports activities, to which you have become addicted for three years now, and all the changes made to the training program did not bring the desired stability. Or, perhaps, you are experiencing a divorce with a man who was loved with all your heart just yesterday, and these experiences do not leave any room for thoughts about diabetes.

Or maybe you’re just tired of the daily routine. Counting carbohydrates, finding a place for a regular injection, always ending test strips , endless numbers, episodes of hypoglycemia or, on the contrary, sudden sugar jumps and a non-dysfunctional sensor for continuous glucose monitoring, which persistently wakes up at 3 am, when everything you want is just sleep.

How does burnout manifest ? In many different ways, from   complete disregard of the prescriptions of the doctor before continuing to perform daily procedures for managing diabetes amid emotional emptiness. Recognizing the symptoms of burnout is quite simple – here are some typical behavioral scenarios:

  • Hiding real blood sugar levels from parents so that they do not get upset and not worried
  • Uncontrolledmeals without taking into account the possible consequences for blood sugar levels
  • Sweet soda, beer, stronger drinks … just because it doesn’t matter
  • Constant desire to let things go
  • Insulin jokes in an amount exactly necessary to avoid getting to the hospital
  • Intentionally maintaining blood sugar levels at elevated levels, since low sugar levels lead to unnecessary stress.
  • The absence of any desire to take carbohydrates andinsulin insinuation “by eye”, because the need to constantly follow up on any details is already seriously fed up with
  • Avoiding fresh vegetables and fruits, because eating too healthy, when everyone around you does what they say is a healthy way of life, is too much
  • Reluctance to pin insulin or check your blood sugar in the presence of classmates or friends, because you want to feellike everyone else and not “eternally sick”
  • A month of depression after another visit to the hospital, when it turned out thatretinopathy is slowly but surely progressing, or the doctor has diagnosed neuropathy or some other complication
  • No one sees tears in the pillow, because diabetes becomes an unbearable burden
  • Transition to the “autopilot” mode, behind which there is a constant fear, self-flagellation and fear of asking for help.

In general, burnout syndrome can be as a result of the constant striving for the ideal: to the ideal indicators of glycosylated hemoglobin, which is the year in a row, to follow ideally the instructions of the parents, spouse or wife, to the ideal implementation of the recommendations of the doctors, is just a direct result of living with diabetes, when it is shameful to slack in and ask for help.

5 steps to overcome burnout syndrome. How to overcome and not give up!

  1. Be aware of the situation. This first step seems quite simple, although in practice it is the most difficult, because to realize one’s weakness is not an easy task. What does it mean to “realize”? Ask for help (even if you have no one to rely on except yourself) and give yourself the opportunity to experience all the facets of the surging syndrome.

It is no secret that many of us are fully focused on the needs of diabetes treatment, following the recommendations of the doctor and following the instructions of parents and loved ones – in such conditions there is no place for listening to their feelings. When burnout “feel” – is first of all to accept the situation, allow yourself to give vent to emotions whatever they were, despair, exhaustion, depression, weakness and even already so dear anger that diabetes – is forever.

Give yourself time to overcome burnout syndrome. The main thing is not to forget to keep the blood sugar level in a safe (and not necessarily ideal) range and to take care of your health as much as it is necessary, so that the burnout syndrome will not bring to the hospital bed. In truth, every person with diabetes (regardless of his type) is entitled at least once in his life to give a weakness and realize that he is tired of diabetes.

  1. Set a time frame. The second step is to create a real plan for overcoming the syndrome. Despite the importance of the first step, aimed at living the onset of the syndrome, a prolonged “freeze” in such a state is unsafe for your health. Ask yourself a direct question: “How much time do I have to cope with burnout syndrome?”. A week? Two? Or maybe the whole three months?

By setting the time frame, you can better plan for overcoming the syndrome, because the third step is a real change, and not necessarily in the daily routine associated with managing diabetes; there may also be changes in other areas that will make your life more pleasant and allow you to more effectively manage your diabetes.

If you are a busy parent, it may be beneficial for you to delegate cleaning the house to someone else — at least for a couple of months while you gain strength to return to your previous life. If you are studying at a university and are working two jobs, you may need to reduce the momentum and for some time limit yourself to studying and taking care of your health.   Or perhaps you are working at a job that you have long been dreaming to quit, or you solve dozens of tasks every day non-stop, and you simply don’t have enough strength to think about diabetes. Take a look at your life from the outside, think about what can be changed, and try to find a balance.

  1. Set realistic goals for nutrition and exercise. One of the main reasons why burnout syndrome occurs in patients with diabetes is constant pressure due to the need to eat properly and exercise. Oh yes, everyone also considers it his duty to tell us that diabetics cannot eat. (Tell “experts”: that ill-fated donut is better for them too!)

Of course, expect from yourself that from an emotionally devastated, diabetically exhausted person you will in one moment become the guru of proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, because this will only aggravate the situation. On the contrary, when you are ready for changes, promise yourself to do one new thing that will have a positive effect on your health – for example, stroll during your lunch break, or go to the gym immediately after work on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, or follow the principles eating healthy for breakfast, or limit your sugar intake to one sweetness a day. Let it be something simple enough, but specific. After a month or two, do not be lazy to add another new habit.

  1. Set realistic targets for blood sugar levels. The idea of introducing a new, simple and specific habit will be useful in terms of managing blood sugar levels. Again, you should not expect a dramatic change from yourself by the wave of a magic wand. It is much more logical to think about what you could do to improve your current performance – for example, check your blood sugar levels every morning immediately after waking up, be more careful in choosing the insulin dose for dinner, so that by the time you go to bed , the blood sugar level was within the required range, or simply not to part with the meter for a minute , and the rest will come by itself.

Simplicity and specifics. Step by step. After a month or two, as soon as you are ready, think about what other habit you can add. And yes, do not hesitate to contact your doctor for help! If you are still shy, it may be time to find another doctor. Do not give up – use all available opportunities to create the team you need.

  1. Praise yourself. Things are not as simple as they seem. Even if your blood sugar level is almost perfect and everything goes according to plan, it is only because you show due diligence. And even if blood sugar levels are higher than the target, you entirely e- still trying to continue to live on! Praise yourself for your efforts, because only those who go through it every day can understand what life is like with diabetes.

Remember, you have the right to experience burnout syndrome once and also have the right to overcome it, no matter how long it took. Just inhale deeply and remember that you are not alone who are faced with diabetes.

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