Jeez, burnout sucks. And boy, was I feeling it last week. My blog post from last Friday accurately summed up the exhaustion, stress, feelings of defeat and the heaviness I was feeling as I flew back home. I didn’t even have the energy to yell ‘Bullshit!’ during the part of the safety video when the guy claims lies that there is great coffee to be had on the aircraft. That is just not true, Qantas.

Thanks to everyone who reached out – to everyone who Tweeted, Facebooked, Instagrammed, commented, texted and emailed. I did take a few days off SoMe, but when I logged back on, I read absolutely everything that was sent to me, and I am overwhelmed (but in a really good way) by everyone’s support.

I participated in yesterday’s #DSMA chat because the awesome Cherise thought that a community chat about advocacy burnout was a good idea, and as is Cherise’s way, she was right. I learnt a heap about how others manage the inevitable feelings of overwhelm that affect so many of us at one time or another.

I am incredibly fortunate to work in a place that truly values the lived experience.  As I wrote in this piece after the Ascenisa #OzDSMS, my CEO has always not only valued my role in the organisations he has led, but has championed the importance of lived experience. I’m really glad he was able to speak to some of Australia’s most impressive advocates (all of whom he already knew) to continue to explain just how important the work they/we all are doing truly is. I held on to that for a lot of last week and over the weekend too.

But it was the support of those with diabetes that helped me dig deep to find the way out of the dark space; those who understand that special brand of burnout that we feel when not only has our own body done its best to undermine us, but others and circumstances around us pile on, making things just so damn hard.

There is an ever-increasing body of evidence that shows peer support is helpful to people living with health conditions. But there is so much more to why we become parts of these communities than to just improve our health and wellbeing, or to connect with others who ‘get it’.

In these communities, those advocacy efforts we are working on in our own little corners of the world become real and big. Heather Gabel wrote this awesome Twitter thread about frustrations I share with her about how we need to focus on the social change our communities create. I will always need the tea and sympathy, but I also need the connections with those world-changing folks whose drive, determination and dedication help me thrive.

I would be naïve to suggest for a moment that the devastating and crushing burnout I was feeling last week has disappeared. It’s still there, and I suspect it will be for some time, and I’m going to keep taking time out, and stepping back for a little bit longer. But I am far more motivated now, and the crappy things that culminated in feeling overwhelmed are starting to look like blips rather than insurmountable peaks. Thanks to everyone who helped me step back and refocus.