Diabetes burnout is real, and it takes many different forms. In the past, I have been burnt out to the point of a complete inability to do any sort of diabetes task. Other times, I have just muddled along with low-level haziness and apathy with and at my diabetes. Sometime burnout has been caused by such a deep hatred of diabetes that the very idea of actually managing it is impossible. Focusing on diabetes after a miscarriage ridiculously felt like a betrayal to the baby I’d been unable to keep. My broken body had not been able to carry a baby, and there I was still tending to it – to the very part of it that I held responsible for the loss.

Today, I am burnt out but in ways that are different and if there was such a thing as a burnout spectrum, I wouldn’t think that I am at the really serious pointy end. I suspect part of that is that those diabetes tasks that once seemed impossible during periods of debilitating burnout are far fewer these days. Having to refill a cartridge and change a canula every three days, calibrate a CGM occasionally, and change a sensor even less occasionally is manageable for me even while I am feeling the way I am right now.

The bottom line is that at the moment, I don’t want to do diabetes and that is a big shift from where I have been since using Loop. It is also a big shift from where I usually am after attending a diabetes conferences and being surrounded by friends. This usually gives me a kick of motivation and focus, allowing me to put in a little more effort which generally yields pleasing results.

Instead, I am a mere 48 hours back from one of those occasions of peer support and I am staring at diabetes with that deep-seated hatred that feels unfamiliar these days. This has not sprung on me all of a sudden. It’s been brewing and fermenting over the last few months. It’s a combination of diabetes being diabetes and some advocacy burnout that has hurt me in ways I never imagined possible. I’ve not felt comfortable mentioning it because what the hell do I have to be burnt out from? My automated insulin delivery device that does most of the heavy lifting for me? The CGM on my arm that barely beeps at me? The support of friends and family? The ease of access to any sort of health professional I need? My diabetes isn’t first world diabetes, it’s first class diabetes so why would I possible be feeling crap about it all? (Oh good, let’s add some guilt to the way I’m feeling too then, shall we?)

And I’ve not felt comfortable mentioning it because, apparently, I am so self-confident and resilient that these things aren’t meant to happen to me. Or rather, that is the perception that a number of people have felt the need to share they have of me. (If anyone can locate that resilience, I’d really like some of it back. It is AWOL in the same way my beta cells are, and I am finding this all rather inconvenient.)

This brand of burnout has been joined by something new. I have had a couple of panic attacks over the last few weeks and the repercussion of those has been to suddenly feel very wary about my ability to make decisions about diabetes – my own and how I read things in the wider diabetes world. I am back to second guessing myself – a behaviour that I really had managed to positively change thanks to devices that I trust implicitly. As it turns out, those devices are smarter than me and as much as I was a maths whizz at school, I am no match for an algorithm that knows my diabetes better than I do.

But the bits I need to do? I’m misfiring left, right and centre.

I stared at a low glucose level on my Loop for two hours yesterday, unable to process exactly what I needed to do to deal with it. The low was entirely my fault. I’d forgotten to change the time on my pump when I arrived back into Melbourne because I was dealing with a more pressing matter – namely, staying out of quarantine. (Airport panic attack led to me trying to remember how to breathe properly rather than making that time zone change. I felt it better I focus my efforts on minimising the effects of said panic attack in an endeavour to keep away staff on heightened alert because of a global respiratory virus epidemic.)

I did a sensor change yesterday morning and it bled all over the place and felt terribly painful, and instead of just ripping it out and starting again, I wept – at the blood, the waste of a thrown-out sensor. And having read not long ago someone refer to CGMs as non-invasive.

So here I am. Burnt out, overwhelmed and feeling broken into little pieces. Oh, and terrified to write about it because I am finding corners of the world that I usually turn to when I am feeling like this not especially kind at the moment. (Unlike other times when my tribe has been amazing as I’ve navigated the tricky waters of the burnout continuum.) But I’m sharing anyway, because it’s what I do, and my mess is my mess and this blog is my blog and so somehow this feels the right place to dump the chaos and clutter I am trying to tidy up and make sense of.

Burnout is real. This feels hard and sad and more than a little scary. And it’s a reminder that no matter how well we think we are doing with diabetes – and no matter how we seem to be on top of things to others – there is always the chance that it overcomes us. That seems just so terribly, terribly unfair.