Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Burnout - Mara's Story

A couple of years ago I was blessed to meet Mara on one of my many trips to New York. Even though she's not a blogger, Mara and I have become facebook friends and have stayed in touch. I love that she has agreed to write something for my "Your Voice" project and I really feel like it fits perfectly into Diabetes Awareness Month. I would venture to say that anyone living with diabetes has suffered what we call "burnout" at least once (most of us many more times than that).

This is a big reminder to people that living with diabetes is a full-time job and that it can often times be overwhelming (even when you've lived with diabetes for many years). Here is Mara's story and I'd like to thank her for her gracious submission!

When Cara mentioned that she was seeking “non D-bloggers” to fill in some spots while she took a hiatus due to diabetes burnout, I jumped at the chance. Anyone who knows me via Facebook (either in “real life” or just through the DOC) knows that I am not shy about posting about diabetes. Usually referred to by me as “Big D,” diabetes becomes the focus of many of my posts, which are often vents or questions/requests for feedback from other “D-peeps.” (I put these things in quotation marks because I’m not really sure if other people use these D-nicknames (sorry, “D-nicknames”) or if these are just pet names I have for it in my head!)

So, when Cara told me to go for it, write a guest post, I was trying to think of what I’d write about. This was almost a month and a half ago, a few days before my 20-year Diaversary (Oh come on, I know we all use that one!). I was thinking I’d write about all the things I’ve accomplished in 20 years in spite of the fact that I have diabetes, and because I have diabetes. I was thinking about referencing how I feel that having diabetes as a kid, I’d been forced into independence and self-sufficiency at a young age, and how that just transferred to other areas of my life. I thought of mentioning how through the DOC and in-person events, I’ve met so many other people living with Type I Diabetes for many years like I have, and how wonderful they have been as support, even if I’ve never met them and just read their blog posts and go “Yeah, ok- whew- somebody gets it!” I also thought of writing about how proud I feel that I went through 4 years of college without even knowing that a pump existed, and these days I work a crazy schedule and manage to manage everything, no matter how many other deadlines I have.

You feel a “but” coming, dontcha. I feel it, too. I felt it just at the point when I had all these ideas in my head for my guest post on this blog. That “but” came in the form of one of the most erratic and stressful times of roller-coaster fluctuations I can remember in a long time. I’m still struggling with it, have an endo appointment in a couple weeks, and I know, like all the times like in the past, it will work itself out. But, I felt the irony of not being able to write a guest post to help Cara out in her time of “D-burnout” because I myself was now feeling it. The truth is, I AM proud of my independence, what I’ve accomplished, how incredibly healthy I am despite having a crazy disease like diabetes.

But, I hate it. I hate when I feel one way when I’m low and another when I’m high and when my body is just tired- TIRED- from days and days of ping-ponging between these too. I hate that I work long, crazy hours at my full-time job and have diabetes as my second, unpaid job (one that I did not volunteer for). I hate that I do everything right and sometimes it still goes all wrong. I hate when I eat an entire meal and stuff myself and then realize I’ve miscalculated and have to eat half the kitchen to fix it (which will of course require a correction 3 hours later…). I hate that I bring tons of supplies along when I won’t be home for many days and my high sugar makes me eat through them and send me into panic. I hate that I’m more than ever in need of a CGM but my insurance company disagrees and considers this crucial piece of diabetes management a luxury (um, are there any luxuries you know of in diabetes?!) And I hate that I can’t help out other D-peeps who are in need of comfort and advice because I’m so burnt out myself.

So, why am I writing now? I thought I couldn’t write about diabetes when I was burnt out. I had emailed Cara to say that I didn’t think I could do it at the time because of my burnout. And then I realized that sharing this with the diabetes community would relieve my stress and maybe some of yours. And you know what? It worked. I feel like I’m writing to a journal, and it feels good to get my frustrations out in writing (and I even saw that others blogged about the burnout, too). But, it feels even better to share my frustrations (and successes…) with people who I know at one time or another have felt the same thing. And, um, yeah – we should all be incredibly proud of ourselves. We’ll see what the next 20 years bring.


kim said...

right on the money! feels like i could have written this myself, the description is so accurate! i hadn't really realized that what i was feeling was "burnout". for so long i just thought it was me, and there was nothing to do about it except take vitamins. it was good to find that i was not alone.

Colleen said...

Mara & Cara - love it!
I'm only on year six, but still have my moments and the biggest help has been those d-people who write about their frustrations.
Thanks for taking the time!