Diabetes Burnout from Basma
I’d like to think, thanks to our generation’s online presence, we’ve all made sharing burnout less of a stigmatized topic. Why is it that it seems to be such a taboo subject to speak about, when the prevalence of personal burnout is about 50% in Americans today?
Hi, my name is Basma ☺ I have lived with diabetes going on 22 years, am a diabetes advocate & public speaker, a new graduate registered nurse, and content creator. If you’ve interacted with me on social media at all, you’ll know how passionate I am about speaking out on burnout – and how completely normal it is to go through phases of burnout in one’s life.
As a person living with diabetes, it’s estimated we make up to 180 extra health-related decisions a day, compared to those living without diabetes (thanks Stanford research!). That doesn’t even begin to factor in everything else we have to juggle – work, social time, family, friends, and hobbies, to name a few. With the amount of energy we put into keeping ourselves alive every single day, doesn’t it make sense why burnout is so relevant?
What is Diabetes Burnout?
You might be thinking to yourself, “so what does burnout really mean?” Burnout is a form of exhaustion that is caused by constantly feeling overwhelmed – it’s considered an “excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress.” You might have gone through a period in your life where you felt exhausted 24/7 – overwhelmed at the thought of checking your blood sugars, emotionally drained from interacting with coworkers, unable to keep up with life’s daily demands. All these feelings stem from burnout – and I’m here to tell you this… you should never be made to feel ashamed of feeling this way!
Common signs and symptoms of burnout can include the following:
- Decreased satisfaction
- Sense of self-doubt
- Feelings of helplessness or defeat
- Increasing anxiety
- Lack of sleep and/or general fatigue
- A sense of lost creativity and/or purpose
The first time I felt burnout was my junior year of high school – social and personal expectations were at an all time high, college decisions were around the corner, and my diabetes management was the last puzzle piece that made everything seem that much more difficult. I experienced all the feelings I described above – and it was awful. Back then I didn’t know this was what “burnout” was, but after a while (and my diabetes management taking a hard hit), I realized I needed to something to feel like me again.
Taking Small Steps
I can’t tell you what fixes feeling burnt out – that’s different for everyone – but I can tell you what helped me. I started to (consciously) find pleasure in the things that used to bring me joy before. Being with my family, snuggling my dog, taking an extra 30 minutes to read a good book. I would consciously emphasize on the joy these acts would bring me, until I didn’t have to “fake it till I made it,” and it was all natural again. Once I found the joy in my life outside of diabetes, I started setting baby goals for my management – pre-bolus five minutes before my meal, write myself a note to change my lancet that day, set a timer to check my blood sugar after eating desert, etc.. I suddenly found that I could regain control over the “little” tasks regarding my diabetes management and I had the energy to attempt to control the larger goals. It didn’t take a few weeks to “snap” out of burnout, but consistency and encouragement from my loved ones helped me gain my perspective on life again.
Since then, sure, I’ve experienced burnout again. But every time, I go back to the basics – start small, tackle those tasks, and move on up. It always seems to help when you scale down and start looking at life piece by piece. You’re reminded that we don’t have to do it all at once!
Don't Focus on Being Perfect
Life is heavy, friends. With everything we’ve weathered as a community and individually as well, it’s impossible to be “perfect,” because perfection doesn’t exist! You are doing an amazing job at handling all of the obstacle’s life throws at you, and if you haven’t been reminded of that lately, then take it from me. I am proud of you for showing up, day in and day out.
As human beings, we fail to recognize the power we have within us to overcome change or adversity because we tend to spend too much time focusing on the present-day issues ahead of us, instead of remembering how many times we’ve overcome hurdles before. So, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite questions - what would you do if you knew you could not fail?