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Slightly Charred.

Diabetes burnout and social media burnout have a tendency to go hand-in-hand for me because it becomes tiresome to document my failures.

“No, the failures of your pancreas,” said a friend.

Nope.  The failures of me, pancreas and all.  I can’t separate the two.  Diabetes challenges me emotionally and physically because I am lucky enough to deal with a disease that offers me a fair amount of control … which translates into a predictable to do list.  As much as I try to reduce my level of responsibility when it comes to this crap, I have to own my role in this disease.  It’s not something I could have prevented, but it is something I have to deal with.  I look at other health issues in my life and realize how little influence I have over them.  And then I look at diabetes and I’m forced to acknowledge that this disease is a confluence of intention and reaction.

Writing about diabetes has become hard some days.  It used to feel good to write about a low blood sugar and get that story out there because it felt like a purging of bad feelings, and the flood of “me, too!” moments made the edges of frustration softer.  Now there are moments when sharing feels pointless; no one needs a reminder of why my disease can be a pain in the ass … least of all me.

I have good intentions.  I intend to take care of myself, and despite the variables that influence diabetes outcomes, I make efforts.  (I exercise.  I eat well.  I don’t smoke.  I am proactive with my medical appointments.  I check blood sugars and take insulin.  I list things that seem smug, like the aforementioned list.)  But diabetes is still diabetes, and I am still reacting to the disease a fair amount of the time.  Reacting to a low (eat something!) or reacting to a high (bolus!) or reacting to a skin irritation (Toughpad me) or reacting to frustrations related to the diagnosis of complications (eyeball fuckery) or reacting to the underlying theme of always hoping for the best and yet being pragmatically prepared for the worst.

Community helps me process this stuff.

Community is a good way for me to manage my emotional health as it relates to diabetes (directly).  Connecting with peers helps me find my footing in moments when I feel like diabetes is dominating.  But that sounds so formal, like secondary headline on a journal article.  The diabetes online community and all this blogging stuff has given me so much in terms of emotional health success.  So what am I doing, writing about social media burnout?  I actually feel stupid saying that there can be burnout from social media, even though I know there can be.  It just feels like the most first world issue there ever was.  Almost like having too many pairs of sturdy shoes – “I simply cannot manage all of the opportunities that are available to me!  Woe is my woe-crammed self.”

So am I burnt out?  Or just slightly charred?  And do I need someone’s permission to voice this issue?  (No.)

Sometimes I question my decision to (over)share so much of my diabetes process in a public setting.  Putting information out to the Internet invites strangers to comment and critique, which is productive when the discussions are empowering and awful when the discussions are cruel.  I’ve had a lot of positive experiences overall via the Internet but it’s been a mixed bag at times.  Which I’m not surprised about – not everyone will like everything, or support everything, or spell everything correctly – but at the same time, it surprises me when I see people rip others apart for their shortcomings or vulnerabilities.  Watching people run commentary that’s hurtful detracts from the nice, mellow community vibe that I appreciate most.  Basically, sometime people (myself included) are dicks, and I hate when that happens.  It makes it harder to share openly and to support.  As the years go by, I want to share less because I want to protect my right to fuck up.  It’s a weird halfway, because the moments where I fuck up are the ones I need the most support during.

So what’s the point of this post?  Here you go:  On September 1st, the team at Diabetes Daily wanted to generate some discussion about social media burnout.  And I hope people talk, because discussions like these make our community stronger.  Or at least that’s the goal.

It’s not about curating a perfect online existence; it’s about living a real, healthy life even with the raw and ragged edges.

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Brandon #

    Thank you for continuing to publish this blog and share your day-to-day. I’ve read it for a number of years now and I use what you write to help me relate to my son (age 11; dx @7) and know how to help, support and teach him without going overboard & burning him out!

    I’ve read a lot of people’s stuff but yours is the only one I stay with… and check every day.

    08/18/15; 12:53 pm
  2. Jen #

    I whole heartily agree with Brandon. Your blog has helped in managing the physical and emotional day to day care of my daughter (age 16 / dx 9). The last two years have been very rough, but your blog has always been like a “warm hug” in letting us know we are not alone in our successes and more importantly on the days that make you feel like a failure. Thank you!

    08/18/15; 2:14 pm
  3. Thanks for passing this along. I definitely plan to participate.

    I’ve been feeling major burnout this summer, not the diabetes kind (much) but the social media kind (so very much). So I unofficially gave myself permission to take most of the summer off from blogging. And it kind of feels good – except that I feel very disconnected from the community and my friends. But that’s okay, I guess, because a break can be good sometimes. I think I need real-life connecting though, because I do feel kinda lonely. Thank goodness for my cat!! (Kidding. Mostly. Meow.)

    08/18/15; 6:33 pm
  4. Dan #

    Hi Kerri,
    I took this as a time for me to listen to your post. Your sharing is what make you….you.
    To me this was a discussion of what diabetes burnout means to you on a personal basis. What can we do and when can we approach this subject is a different question.
    My only question is …… How can we help you?

    As always have a great day. It can help to sing and dance in a warm summer rain. There are still rainbow to find and smile.

    Dan

    08/18/15; 9:57 pm
  5. Jenny #

    I’ve been reading your blog about 11 years now, and I notice you used to have more guest bloggers. Not that I don’t love to hear what you have to say, (because I do, I really do!) but maybe you need to line up some guest bloggers and give yourself a break for a bit. Take a step back, long enough to miss us a little, and come back raring to go! I can’t imagine life without your blog, but do what you need to do for you, be it rethinking what or how you share, refreshing or revamping.

    08/19/15; 9:18 am
  6. Tim Steinert #

    I think some of the emotional burden for how this disease affects/effects us is unnecessary. Let me explain. I live in Seattle. I’m a Seahawks fan. There are a lot of people who think,

    “Why didn’t they run it?!!”

    “What losers!!”

    That day, Seattle lost the game, yes. But they’re not losers (or failures). They just didn’t win the game. That’s all.

    It’s an important distinction for everyone. But it’s vitally important to those of us with diabetes. No matter what happened yesterday, we have to get up and fight the battle all over again. The thing I’ve learned that’s extremely helpful is:

    I didn’t succeed yesterday. That has nothing to do with today. It can’t have anything to do with today. Yesterday is over.

    Did I fail?
    Did I succeed?
    Did I learn anything? Then glean the lesson.

    Failure or success? Forget it. Because it won’t help me. I don’t have the time or the energy or the interest in anything that is not going to help. Failing doesn’t make me a failure.

    08/19/15; 10:01 am
  7. Vicki #

    Kerri,
    I am not a writer, and I don’t always use the correct punctuation. I always try to use spellcheck!

    When I met my T1D significant other 8 years ago, I scoured the internet for information. Why did he need cookies? Why does he not test? Why is he so angry, or complacent, or burnt out? Why doesn’t he like to go to the doctor? The lab? The ophthalmologist. What is so difficult about ordering prescriptions? What is up with daily injections? Why are there two types of insulin? Why don’t more people know about this disease? Why don’t I know more? How can I help? When should I not help? Why when I help, does he get mad? The list goes on and on.

    Then I found you’re blog. I know you don’t know me, but I feel like you are my best friend. Every day when I turn on my computer, this is the first place I come. You have helped me more than you know. You have provided comfort with your explanations of how things feel, (lows and highs). You have explained how glucose levels and grumpy levels can go hand in hand. You have provided guidance on CGM’s, (yes he has one now), pumps, (yes he has one now). The importance of a good endocrinologist. (Yes he has one now) Why he is so over ordering prescriptions. (It is not as easy as it sounds). And, why he hates doctors. (Never any good news there!) You are that girlfriend I call to ask WTF? Or what now? Or I just don’t get this. You always have the answers somewhere in your blog. You have provided links to other parts of our life. The Diabetes Man Cave sums up a lot of struggles in a T1D home. My Significant other isn’t ready to read it yet, I leave it open on the computer just in case. But, I have the insight I need to hopefully be a good partner. Thanks to you.

    You have graciously shared your family with me. I went through your pregnancy with you. Everyday hoping for good news. Hardly able to wait for Birdy to be born. Prayed for you when you struggled. Celebrated the new addition to your family. Watched as your husband became a huge success! The red carpet, how cool is that?

    I have shared your blog with several other T1D’s and they are as grateful for the information as I am.

    You are the voice of my T1D. You say the things he would never say. You explain the things he would never explain. Your challenges are his challenges, (without the childbirth of course).

    Thanks to you, he is a Joslin 40 year survivor. And has the certificate to prove it. How would I ever know about that? Yep, Kerri!

    It is no wonder you are burned out.. There is an entire community out here that is sucking out your life force. Draining you of information, and craving more. Just know, that you are appreciated more than you realize. I hope you are never too burned out to write. You are just so good at it!

    I wish there was some way to repay you for all you have done for me, us. A heartfelt thank you is really all I have, along with a healthier partner, and a better relationship.
    Thank you.

    08/19/15; 10:24 am
    • Vicki, thank YOU. That is such a nice comment for you to leave, and I’m really, really honored to have you here reading. If you and your SO ever find yourselves passing through Rhode Island, please let me know!! xo

      08/21/15; 8:41 am
  8. ria #

    does this mean we’re breaking up ????
    we are all in this D s–t together, or we wouldn’t be reading your blog
    good, bad, or ugly
    it is reality

    08/19/15; 8:52 pm
  9. Nebet #

    As the years go by, I want to share less because I want to protect my right to fuck up.

    As a newly-diagnosed T2 diabetic currently struggling with “coming out” questions surrounding this new label I’ve been handed, this phrase really resonated with me. How much do I want to expose myself to unwanted and/or uninformed critique? to people’s assumptions?

    In light of those questions and the emotions they raiser, I want to thank you for sharing so much already. Just reading the comments on your posts, I can see what a great resource this blog is and has been and will continue to be – even if you stopped posting tomorrow.

    08/20/15; 10:00 am
  10. Sarah #

    You never fail to write something that makes me laugh and moves me. I think you are brilliant and wonderful and have gained so much in the three years I’ve been social media stalking you since my daughter’s diagnosis. Thanks.

    08/20/15; 2:54 pm
  11. Kerri:
    I agree with all of the other comments!!! U r a STELLAR human being!!!! Ur intelligent, an AMAZING writer, a great mom and wife and for me, u have been a much needed bear hug on a really crappy day!!!

    I found 2 amazing blogs in the early days after my diagnosis, Scott Johnson’s blog and Six Until Me. Without u and Scott, I don’t know what I would have done!!! Ive learned so much from u both and continue to learn and connect with other T1D’s thru this DOC that u talked about. My life would be very different if I had not done that initial google search after my diagnosis. Thank u for sharing what u do in ur blog!! Thank ufor advocating for ll of us in the diabetes world!!! And thank u for being u!!!

    U do what u need to do to take care of u!! I will be sad if u no longer write this blog but u must take care of urself!! And if I can do anything to help u in that endeavor please dont hesitate to ask!!!! Thank u for all u do!!!!

    Sandy

    08/21/15; 12:45 am

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