How to Deal With Type 1 Diabetes Burnout

When we think of experiencing burnout as adults, we usually relate it to work. Maybe it’s been a stressful quarter, or you have to deal with a terrible boss. We get overworked, we experience a lot of stress, and that leads to burnout.

Well, burnout can also happen with Type 1 diabetes.

Look again at this sentence: We get overworked (Type 1 diabetes requires 24/7/365 work), we experience a lot of stress (fluctuating blood sugars, doctors, pressure to be perfect), and that leads to burnout.

Burnout as a Type 1 diabetic can look like:

  • Not checking blood sugars

  • Not giving insulin

  • Not eating healthy

  • Canceling doctor’s appointments

And yes, burnout can happen to children and teens – it’s not just adults.

Based on the typical symptoms of burnout, you can see that this can lead to really bad control of their Type 1 diabetes, and possibly severe complications.

So, there are a lot of ways to deal with burnout, but I have one starting suggestion:

Start small. Don’t expect perfection.

It can be really overwhelming to try to go from a 10.0% A1C to a 6.0% A1C.

It can be really hard to go from not checking your blood sugar at all, to checking 4-5 times a day.

So, if your child or teen is experiencing burnout and doesn’t want to control their Type 1 diabetes, set very small goals for a few weeks at a time. Maybe it’s just to start checking 1-2x a day again, and work their way up. (This is also a great reason to have your child wear a CGM! They don’t have to check as often, and you have more data about their blood sugars.)

Yes, total control is the goal, and that’s what all of the doctors and family want – but it can be too daunting to go from 0 to 100.

When they start to do things more consistently, reward them – whether it’s out for dinner at their favorite restaurant or a new shirt. Then, add in another small goal.

In my experience, one of the hardest parts of checking your blood sugar more often is seeing the “bad” numbers.

I often feel like a bad blood sugar meant I was a bad person. Reaffirm your child’s value, even if their blood sugar is too high. Tell them that you are there to help them, and you can work through this together.