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.