Diabetes Burnout: What is it?

Cazzy Magennis
Written By:
Cazzy Magennis
Last Updated:
April 10, 2020
Have you ever felt like you just want to give up? feel angry and sad over your diabetes? You are not alone. Check out my experience of diabetes burnout
diabetes burnout

We’ve all heard the term: “diabetes burnout”, but what does that mean?

According to Google it means, “a state in which patients grow tired of managing their disease and then simply ignore  it for a period of time, or worse, forever.”

But, for everyone, I think there is an individual and personal reason to what diabetes burnout means to them. We all experience it, even if we don’t realise we are and we can all react in different ways, or deal with it in different ways. So here is a little post on diabetes burnout and what is means to me.

Diabetes burnout is a period in time in which you and I become tired, exhausted and frustrated with managing our diabetes. This means we can ignore it, or we just feel down over it, or we feel like no matter what we do, nothing is working, so what’s even the point anymore. Been there?

We all have, or if you haven’t...it will happen one day.

Remember T1D is a 24/7 disease and no breaks are granted. People often think because I am travelling...that I am on a constant holiday, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Firstly because I work whilst travelling, and secondly, I am always dealing with so many elements with my diabetes. If only it felt like a holiday!

So even though I travel, I can still experience burnout, and it’s not that I don’t appreciate what I do, it’s that I still do it with type 1 diabetes, so it’s more challenging.

It’s important to know that those who experience burnout don’t need to be depressed, but they aren’t lazy either. It’s just that sometimes diabetes can feel overwhelming and we get a little burnt out from all the hard work it takes.

It can look a little differently for everyone, but these tend to be some common symptoms (thanks to beyond type 1!)

  • Strong negative feelings (e.g., overwhelmed, anger, frustration) about diabetes
  • Feeling controlled by diabetes
  • Isolation, or feeling alone with diabetes
  • Avoidance of some, or all diabetes management activities and being unmotivated to change this behaviour

I thought I would give you some advice on what I do when I am experiencing this frustration with diabetes.

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Be realistic

We tend to be REALLY hard on ourselves. Like we have to achieve this expectation of perfection when it comes to managing diabetes. I believe unrealistic expectations of doctors (who don’t have type 1) causes a lot of that. It’s easy to say to someone “you need to achieve this blood sugar within this time frame”.

If only that was the reality. Everything from stress, periods, food, exercise, climate, general well being, EVERYTHING affects diabetes, so don’t expect to get it right every time. I’ve messed up lots of times, but I just take the bad days, learn from them, and use them to know what to do if I find myself in that situation again.

Take it easy

If your body is screaming for rest, then give it rest. Remember you can’t achieve all your hopes and dreams (or travel goals) if you’re sick. Your health should be your priority in all situations, even if it makes you feel awkward, or you feel like you’re letting people down.

You need to realise just how important your health is, and if the people around you care about you, they’ll understand too.  

Use baby steps too. Don’t go aiming for a perfect day of numbers. Do it in small chunks. If you can get a good morning blood sugar, then that’s brilliant.

Focus on that, then move to the next stage. If your aim is to get a good blood sugar after exercise, then aim for that, then move on to the next stage. Just take it in baby steps, and when you do achieve those little goals, it will make you feel so much better!

Don’t overthink the “complications”

If I have had a week of terrible blood sugars and things aren’t going to plan, I easily go into the “I am going to get complications and die” train of thought. That isn’t ideal, and it’s not reality. Blips in your diabetes care isn’t going to cause you complications. Everyone has blips, even those with the HBA1C of 5 etc. NO ONE is perfect and that is okay, because where is the fun in perfection? Don’t let the negativity stop you from trying.

Let yourself have the moment, feel the frustration, then take that energy and turn it into something positive.

Get support

Whether it’s support in the form of your friends, family, doctor or the awesome diabetic community that is online, there is support for you and you should use it. If I am feeling rough, I go on Instagram, and tell my story, then others often tell me they know how I am feeling, and they actually do!!

That means I really don’t feel alone, or feel like I am going crazy. I feel supported and it motivates me to try harder.

Use your loved ones too, I have such an amazing boyfriend, sister, mum, dad and friends network who are super understanding and proud of me, and that gives me hope to keep going and keep trying, even when I feel like giving up.

So, if you’ve ever feel like you’ve failed or are failing, we have all felt like that too. I never want to create this image of perfection on instagram, diabetes isn’t easy, and I don’t always get it right. I am always trying, but I am not, by any means, perfect. But, that’s okay, because I am a warrior and you are too.

If you’ve experienced burnout, then let me know your story.


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