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Diabetes Burnout - How it Happened

Last updated: March 2022

Diabetes. Burnout.

If you’ve never heard the term, I think this defines it pretty well.

“...a state in which patients grow tired of managing their disease and then simply ignore it for a period of time, or worse, forever. Diabetes burnout is not the same thing as depression, instead it is something that takes place when a person is either unwilling to change, or simply tired of the endless attention diabetes care requires.” 1

Diabetes burnout can be dangerous

I hope you never experience it. Not because it’s horrible, but because it becomes a place of comfort that is dangerous. Dangerous? Yes. I’m not being dramatic when I say this. There is a very real potential for complications that can occur while we are ignoring the disease for an extended period of time. It also becomes way too easy to think they can’t happen to me. It becomes all too easy to just say I’m tired and I don’t want to be diabetic anymore. That is one very big rabbit hole.

My experience with diabetes burnout

I’ve lived through burnout. It lasted about a year. I went from managing my diabetes effectively for 8 years with diet and exercise: eating in a way that supported my health, walking and testing. Then some things in my life changed. I had to cope with illness in elderly family members who lived a couple hours away, my job satisfaction was lower and my young adult kids were going through normal growing pains. Let me tell you, diabetes was the last thing on my mind. Something had to give. It was my diabetes care. I found myself saying “I’m not diabetic today” as I scarfed down whatever food I wanted. I also recall thinking “I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.” I stopped testing. I stopped watching what I was eating. I started to gain back some of the weight I had worked so hard to get rid of years before. My clothes for work were getting snug. I didn’t care. I didn’t give a flying fig about diabetes.

After my elderly parents were in a good place, my job felt better and my kids were managing, I started to feel guilty about having ignored my diabetes for so long. Then I got scared. “What if…” crept in. It wasn’t like I didn’t know there could be complications but now I was worried. Some of the complications are silent for long periods until they show themselves. I pushed myself to go back to the doctor. I’d been avoiding the doctors appointments. My A1C was back to where I started 9 years before. I had to start over. That was the hard part. I felt like a failure.

But that was the only hard part. I was lucky. I hadn’t done any damage to my eyes, to my nervous system, to my heart, to any other organ in my body. My test results checking all of these were still in the normal range. I had escaped the complications. Thankfully.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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