We all face it at one time or another: diabetes burnout. For some of us, we can eke out enough motivation to get by, but others face a much longer, darker path. Jen Enger, a 30-year-old Chicagoan who works in marketing, was diagnosed at the tender age of 8, and after 20+ years of living with type 1 diabetes, she hit the brick wall of diabetes burnout earlier this year.
Last month, Jen won a copy of Amy Stockwell Mercer's book The Smart Woman's Guide to Diabetes in our monthly DMBooks giveaway (a drawing for free copies of the books we review). Afterward, she told us about how she had recently rescued herself from her bout with serious burnout. It's always inspiring to see someone "come out the other side," so Jen agreed to share some of her thoughts and the tools she used to pull through in hopes of spreading some encouragement.
A Guest Post by Jen Enger
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How I got over diabetes burnout:
I read about Nat Strand winning The Amazing Race. I was blown away by what she did. I used to be real adventurous, played sports year-round in high school, etc. I've slowly let diabetes be an excuse for not being adventurous.
I also read The Sugarless Plum, Zippora Karz's memoir last Christmas and loved it! Again, I was totally inspired by her determination to get a handle on diabetes and not let it stop her from dancing. I recently picked it up and thumbed through it again. Total inspiration for me!
2) I found people outside the diabetes community who inspire me.
As helpful as the DOC can be, I found it inspiring to venture outside of the Diabetes Online Community and start reading tons of healthy living/eating blogs. I got some great ideas for snacks, meals, etc. I kept thinking, "I wanna be as healthy as they are." But at first I kept thinking that diabetes would get in the way. Instead, I needed to remember that because of diabetes, I should be in kick-butt shape/health... and do everything I can to get there!
3) I investigated new ways of thinking about food.
I was intrigued about all this talk of "curing diabetes" with the Raw Diet. I don't believe it's really a cure, but I began looking into it. I watched the documentary Simply Raw and loved the idea of lowering my insulin needs and losing weight. Again, I know I can't be cured right now - but hopefully someday!
I bought Clean Start by Terry Walters and began looking more into clean eating, which emphasizes eating whole, natural foods like fruits and vegetables and avoiding anything that is processed or has artificial ingredients. I actually met Terry, had her sign my book, and watched a live demonstration of her cooking. Being more conscious about eating clean has really helped my blood sugars.
I read The Raw Detox Diet by Natalia Rose and I began doing something Natalia recommended, which is eating just fruit on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. She has a theory about separating foods into categories by how quickly they are digested by your body. The more I did this, the more I had to lower my insulin! I lowered my basal quite a bit, lost 5 pounds, and went from a 1:8 carb ratio to a 1:15.
I suddenly got really excited about doing research on food and being the healthiest I can be. This led to a drop in A1c. I went from 9.3% to 8.6%. I have a LONG way to drop still, but I'm totally encouraged and it was just what I needed to keep me going.
4) I found a great doctor who "got it."
At my last endocrinologist appointment, my doctor looked me in the eyes just when I was getting overwhelmed with all the work I felt like I had to do and he said, "You should really be proud of yourself. This is a great accomplishment in the last three months. Diabetes is hard. It's not normal to have diabetes and you are doing a great job living with it. I'm here for you and [your CDE] is here for you and we have a whole team of people who want to help you reach your goals."
I wanted to cry! My doctors' office at the Kovler Diabetes Center at the University of Chicago is also getting behind the emotional/mental side of diabetes and offering therapists to talk to as part of the treatment plan.
I took out a list of goals that I had written down a long time ago, and I started to look at them and dream again. I went on Pinterest.com (if you're not on there yet, it's fun and addicting) and I found pictures that inspired me. I remembered to dream again and to make goals and to begin working toward them — not letting diabetes get in the way of ANY of them!
In doing that, I realized how much I had loved blogging and what a great outlet it was for me. So back to the DOC I went!
These are bits and pieces of what I can pin-point that helped pull me out of my diabetes funk. Of course, there was my personal faith, my husband, friends, and family that have always helped encourage me in my journey with diabetes. But these are some other tangible things that helped this time.
Have you dealt with diabetes burnout? We'd love to continue the conversation in the comments section about how the rest of us have coped with "the big B"...