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If you have type 1 diabetes (T1D), you know how hard it is to manage. The constant highs and lows (literally), carb counting, injections, device alarms, and on and on… day in and day out.
In recent years, there has been growing recognition of the
Chances are, if you’ve lived with T1D for more than a few years, you’ve experienced burnout at some point during your journey. I know that I, along with every person I know with T1D, have had my fair share of burnout episodes.
Yet although this issue is gaining increased recognition, there is a huge lack of practical resources to help us cope.
Luckily, there are a handful of books by people who are also “walking the walk” that can help you feel less alone, improve your mental health approach, and offer tips about approaching the daily burdens of T1D.
Here are seven books we love, and think you may, too.
About the author. Dr. Bill Polonsky is the president and founder of the San Diego-based Behavioral Diabetes Institute, the first organization dedicated to understanding the relationship between mental health and diabetes. Polonsky is an associate clinical professor in psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. Although he does not live with diabetes himself, he’s considered a pioneer in this area. His impressive resume includes earning his PhD in clinical psychology from Yale and serving as the senior psychologist at the legendary Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, as a faculty member at Harvard Medical School, and as the chairman of the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators.
Book synopsis. This seminal book, originally published back in 1999, explores the idea of “diabetes burnout” and where it stems from. Throughout the book, Polonsky offers interactive questionnaires and self-evaluation tools to help you understand where you stand on the burnout spectrum and guide you towards overcoming burnout, to help you be more proactive and positive in your diabetes management. Additionally, the book features worksheets to help assess your motivational level and establish a plan of action.
Why people with diabetes (PWDs) love it. Polonsky offers clinical insight and tips that are informed by his own research and experiences as a diabetes educator. Plus, his writing is compassionate and humorous so it doesn’t feel like constant doom and gloom, but rather like getting advice from a trusted friend.
Where to get it. This book is 348 pages long and can be bought as an audiobook ($18.37 to purchase, or free with an Audible account), physical book ($14.79), or e-book ($14.05). All options are available for purchase on Amazon.
About the author. Kerri Sparling has had T1D for 34 years, and has dedicated her career to “amplifying the patient narrative.” She is a writer, poet, and speaker who has been an active leader in the patient advocacy space since 2005.
Book synopsis. “Balancing Diabetes” asks the question, “How do we figure out how to manage our diabetes along with all the aspects of life that are outside of diabetes care?” Sparling uses the book as a way to compile strategies used by PWDs and their caregivers to offer insight and to help with that delicate balancing act.
Why PWDs love it. Rather than focusing on diabetes, this book focuses on the person, the life of the person and their families, and looks at how diabetes fits in. The person-first narrative reminds us that we are not just our disease and looks at how we can be kinder to ourselves while managing our diabetes. Also, this book is not just catered to people with T1D. Sparling’s advice transcends age, gender, relationship to the person with diabetes, and whether you have type 1 or 2 diabetes. Anyone touched by diabetes in some way can relate and find help in this book.
About the author. Ginger Vieira has had T1D and Celiac disease since 1999. She currently works at the nonprofit org Beyond Type 1 and as a freelance writer, motivational speaker, and YouTube content creator, where she publishes vlogs about her life with diabetes. So far, she has published five books about diabetes, with topics ranging from pregnancy and T1D to children’s books explaining what low blood sugar means.
Book synopsis. This burnout book is meant to be used as a guide to help readers manage the daily work and pressure of diabetes management. Vieira discusses tools and encouragement to help you get back on track and take control of your diabetes management, and see it as a rewarding priority rather than an exhausting chore.
Why PWDs love it. Perhaps this comes from Vieira’s background as a motivational speaker, but “Dealing with Diabetes Burnout” does not feel like a lecture or a dry volume in any way. Instead, the author comes at you with a friendly and straightforward voice that tells you, “Diabetes can be tough, but you are tougher, and here’s how we can manage it.” She is able to use humor, compassion, and raw honesty to create a realistic look and plan of action when thinking about diabetes burnout.
Where to get it. This book is 256 pages long and can be bought as a physical book ($15.21) or e-book ($9.99) on Amazon.
About the author. Adam Brown has had T1D since 2001. He previously served as senior editor at diaTribe.org, and lead diabetes technology & digital health coverage at their sister consultancy, Close Concerns. He has an expansive resume, and writes and speaks extensively about diabetes and chronic disease, and is widely recognized as a leading expert in diabetes technology. In early 2020, he decided to pivot his career to become a mental health professional.
Book synopsis. “Bright Spots and Landmines” originally began as a column on the diaTribe website in 2013, and Brown later transformed it into this actionable guide in which he shares the aspects and strategies that have made the largest impact on his diabetes. The book contains countless tips, questions, and shortcuts to help you understand where you are in your diabetes management and where you would like to be. “Bright Spots” of course refers to things that are going well that you can build on, and “Landmines” are the tough areas you’ll need to learn to navigate carefully.
Why PWDs love it. In addition to the wealth of information you can find in this book, Brown argues that we should not just focus on the mistakes we make in diabetes management (the Landmines), but instead work to bolster our Bright Spots. He encourages readers to find what’s working and ways to do those more often so we can have more successful glucose management, and live happier and healthier lives overall. This book can be used by anyone, whether they are newly diagnosed or have managed diabetes for 50+ years, type 1 or type 2 — as the tips and tricks are universal.
Where to get it. This book is 250 pages long and can be bought as an audiobook ($14.95 to buy, or free with an Audible account), physical book ($6.42), or e-book ($1.99). All options are available for purchase on Amazon. You can also download a PDF copy of the book for free on the Bright Spots and Landmines website; if you choose this option, you are strongly encouraged to donate to diaTribe.org through their portal.
About the author. You might know Sierra Sandison as Miss Idaho 2014, who made headlines launching her #ShowMeYourPump campaign, a social media movement encouraging people with diabetes to be “out and proud” with their medical gear to raise awareness for the disease. Now, Sandison travels the country to speak at schools, and various health and educational conferences across the diabetes community.
Book synopsis. Her book “Sugar Linings” acts as both an inspirational treatise and as a memoir. Sandison shares her story and discusses the positives of living with T1D, such as finding a new community. She hopes to use the positives, or “sugar linings,” as reminders and beacons of hope so that readers can take them through their hard days.
Why PWDs love it. Readers love this fresh take of focusing not on the negatives, but the positive things one can gain from living with T1D. It’s an upbeat look at an often brutal disease that lets us be a little more hopeful and curious about what we may have been given with our diagnosis.
Where to get it. This book is 163 pages long and can be bought as a physical book ($14.99) or e-book ($9.99 to buy, or free with Kindle Unlimited). Both options are available for purchase on Amazon.
About the author. Riva Greenberg has had T1D since 1972 and works as a freelance writer, diabetes corporate advisor, educator, advocate, health coach, and online influencer. She has advised the Centers for Disease Control in the branding of Diabetes Self Management Education and Support Services. She has published three books that serve as a trilogy on how to manage your diabetes well; the first book in her installment is “The ABCs of Loving Yourself with Diabetes.”
Book synopsis. This brightly illustrated book aims to offset the fear and frustration of diabetes and offer messages that will make you feel happy and accomplished. Greenberg uses a “love-all” theory that helps readers treat themselves more lovingly, with patience and forgiveness, to help create better diabetes management. The book is full of helpful and inspiring tips and images to inspire readers to find joy, courage, and pride in their diabetes management.
Why PWDs love it. Greenberg offers helpful tools that focus on the positives around the work you are already doing yourself. She does so by using each letter of the alphabet to offer a phrase, a few paragraphs of explanation, and an image to help illustrate her tips regarding diabetes and mental health. For example, K’s phrase is “K is for Knowing you are capable of change.” Readers love these anecdotes as they are easy to remember long after putting the book down.
About the author. Chuck Eichten was diagnosed with T1D when he was 13 years old. Today, he is creative director of the Nike brand in Portland, Oregon. After 30+ years of experience, he wrote “The Book of Better” to share some of his tips and warnings about how to successfully manage your diabetes, with a focus on the advantages of using an insulin pump. Through his work, he’s realized we all want an honest conversation, the ability to laugh (even at ourselves), and we want the truth about what can make our lives better. He attempts to apply all of these aspects to the conversation of diabetes management.
Book synopsis. The book is both a memoir-of-sorts and an illustrated novel that helps explore life with diabetes. Eichten takes you through what’s made him successful in his diabetes management, as well as his “idiot mistakes” (in his own words). He reminds readers that we should always strive to do better, and even a little bit better is better than nothing. And if we work every day to be a little bit better, we’ll eventually get to a point where we are a whole lot better.
Why PWDs love it. Eichten is brutally honest, stating that “Diabetes sucks, but your life can still be awesome.” He is candid in a way that doesn’t distract or deter readers, but rather encourages us by reminding us he has been where we have been, and we won’t always be stuck in the bad days. As a graphic novel, his book is short and to the point.
If you’re looking for some positivity and help to elevate your mental health with diabetes, this collection of books could be of great comfort to you.
If you like a more medically-driven approach, you may opt to start with “Diabetes Burnout: What to Do When You Can’t Take it Anymore” by Dr. Bill Polonsky. But if you prefer something lighter with more visuals alongside your reading, you may want to select “The ABCs of Loving Yourself with Diabetes” by Riva Greenberg or “The Book of Better” by Chuck Eichten.
Or maybe you want some storytelling or prefer memoirs more than anything. Then we suggest you dive into Sparling’s “Balancing Diabetes,” or “Sugar Linings: Finding the Bright Side of Type 1 Diabetes” by Sierra Sandison.
No matter which book you choose, you’re sure to gain a lot of helpful tips and encouragement to help you navigate your own diabetes management.