Ninjabetic – diabetes burnout
This morning I woke up feeling very happy. So happy in fact that it felt very alien to me and I realised that this isn’t the norm, not at the moment anyway. I know that most people are a little grumpy in the mornings, especially now the weather is getting colder which makes leaving a nice warm bed even more of a challenge, but in the past few months I’ve been waking up and feeling nothing. I’ve felt very numb in the mornings, not really knowing what to do with myself and worrying about what the day ahead would bring.
A while ago I started to dread going to sleep in the evenings, especially if I’d had a particularly good day, because I didn’t know which card the next day would deal me. I would wish for the good days to stretch out for as long as possible while worrying about the challenges that diabetes and gastroparesis would throw at me when I woke up. Quite often my wish would be granted and the days and nights would drag on and on, however, that was because gastroparesis (when it’s misbehaving) doesn’t let me sleep. Over the last few months, I’ve been trying as hard as I can to supress the issue but I know it’s not going away and it’s probably time to face up to diabetes burnout.
It feels like diabetes is an annoying flatmate that took up residence in my body without asking
I wondered if burnout would come and find me, I wondered how it would feel and how I would cope when it did. I wondered if I would need to tell my healthcare professionals and, if I did what, support they would be able to offer, if any. To be fair I think I’m doing okay(ish) and most of the time I manage to get my bum out of bed and get on with my day; however, managing (or coping as I now feel) has come with a price in the way of not self-managing my diabetes as well as I should be. There have been days when testing my blood glucose feels like a huge weight pressing down on me. I stare at my metre, the test strips and the lancet and a simple blood glucose test that should take less than 30 seconds often takes 30 minutes. “I’ll do it in a minute” I tell myself, but that minute soon passes by, taking with it some important decisions that I need to make based on a number.
While there’s a secret battle going on inside my head between ‘rational thinking’ and ‘I don’t want to’, I’m also thinking about what will happen if I don’t test. How will I feel? What will the repercussions be? What will my consultant say if he finds out? Mostly, out of guilt, I have carried on testing, however, the tired and frustrated side of me wants to throw my metre and all the numbers that come with it out of the window. It feels like diabetes is an annoying flatmate that took up residence in my body without asking and is now having constant parties, making a horrible mess and getting on my last nerve. What would most people do with that flatmate…? Kick them out.
Guilt is another big factor in my diabetes burnout. How can I let down so many people by admitting I’m not as strong and courageous as they think? How can I motivate others when the thought of eating and seeing my blood sugars rise and fall makes me want to say “no more, I’m done with you”. I truly admire people who never let diabetes get to them and always see the positive side of life, they make me feel like everything will be okay and this miserable storm that I’m going through will blow over sometime soon; however, my reality is that the combination of diabetes and gastroparesis seems to be sucking the happiness out of me (like a big long-term condition dementor, Harry Potter style).
Guilt is also a massive player in my impending diabetes appointment and my current thoughts are to run far away and hide until I’m feeling more like myself. I haven’t cancelled an appointment for four years and most of the people who follow my blog will know how much I enjoy seeing my consultant (he’s actually the most amazing consultant in the world) but I have a feeling that when he asks how I am ,I’ll either have a big fake smile on my face and lie through my teeth (never a good idea, I know) or I’ll cry my face off and we’ll have one of those awkward moments where we both ignore the fact that I have giant panda eyes for the rest of the appointment. It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to avoid my diabetes clinic but the thought of stepping into the department makes me feel like the walls are closing in.
‘Diagnosed all over again’
I don’t know where to go from here. In a strange way I feel like I’ve just been diagnosed all over again. Feeling very helpless and uninformed when it comes to gastroparesis is definitely not helping and as much as I try to get a grip on it, I’m doing so on my own. I remember about four months after being diagnosed with diabetes I stopped having any interest in it at all; I pushed it out of my mind and at the time I felt a whole lot happier. I now know that what I did was the biggest mistake I could have made but at the time it was a welcome relief. I didn’t only feel happy but also powerful and in control. I went on feeling happy and powerful for the next nine years until complications hit me and I realised that I wasn’t happy at all, I was in denial and I was actually incredibly weak for not facing up to my responsibilities. I was always secretly worried and I’m now starting to feel that false sense of happiness return, with worry lurking away in the shadows. There’s no other way to say it… diabetes burnout sucks.