I was recently asked to present at the Greater Dallas Chapter JDRF Type One Summit on the topic of diabetes burnout and stress. It was an amazing event so I have to share with you!
JDRF hosts this one day event, bringing people with type 1 diabetes together to learn and share. It is always a bit surreal to be in the company of so many who “get it”. It’s very humbling actually, but I was with my peeps! The event was set up in three parts. In the morning there were all the standard diabetes vendors with latest pumps, CGMs and other gadgets. Fun to mill about and snap some selfies!
Lunch was a showcase of fun kids sharing JDRF events and initiatives, followed by Keynote Speaker Kyle Cochran, a four time American Ninja Warrior who lives with Type 1. He was super inspiring! In the afternoon, kids got to hang with other T1D kids their age, while parents and adults made their way to education sessions.
Presenting on Diabetes Stress & Burnout
I was the first presenter after lunch in the adult track on the psychosocial aspects of diabetes (that’s just a big medical word for how diabetes impacts your emotions, motivation and mental state). This was huge for me on so many levels 1) That JDRF sees me as an influencer and expert diabetes coach; 2) that JDRF understands that it takes a whole lot more than diet and exercise to live well with diabetes and; 3) the acknowledgement that no matter how long you have lived with diabetes, you still need support. Diabetes burnout can happen to anyone , at anytime.
Everyone who is touched by diabetes knows about burnout and stress. It’s a lifelong challenge that is “As Unpredictable as the Weather” as the name of my presentation indicated. Since we can’t control the weather nor the nuances of diabetes, our best approach is to be prepared. That idea seemed to resonate with attendees. The event planner said my session was a popular sign up, and I was thrilled that the room was nearly at capacity! Obviously, we all shared a connection with diabetes, but I was taken aback by some of the applause I received. Just for sharing my story (and to be honest, a tear or two), my ‘diapeeps” knew my struggle and their support was palpable. But most importantly, I was able to provide some insight and ideas about new ways of preparing for the stress of diabetes.
Truth about diabetes
If I had to provide you with the cliff notes version of my presentation it would be this.
- Despite all the money and innovation, people with diabetes still struggle. Research shows that outcomes haven’t improved in the last decade.
- Research also shows that mental and emotional well being and support improve outcomes. This knowledge has been around for over 15 years.
- The battle call of diabetes is to “fight”, but our bodies cannot stay in fight/flight/freeze mode. We need rest/digest/restore time to stay in balance.
- Our bodies love balance.
- We can trick out bodies into rest/digest/restore with intention and new tools, thus creating more balance to combat with the stress of diabetes.
- Change is inevitable, we change every moment of every day. We will be different in a year from now, just as we were different a year ago.
- With intention and some new tools, you can introduce more peace and feelings of control, and those intentional changes will change you for the BETTER!
So what is my take away from the summit? If you have the opportunity to attend a diabetes gathering, no matter how large or small, do it. The connection is healing and there is so much comfort in being around so many who know your struggle The atmosphere literally “feels” different. #Amazing! And you are sure to learn something. I learned from the presenters, from the people who sat next to me at lunch (a 6 year old and a 42 year old who both were diagnosed in the past 18 months – the disease knows no age), and from those who shared their stories with me after my presentation.
I also suggest that if you are NOT dealing with the “psychosocial” aspects of diabetes very well, better known as burnout, reach out; to me, to a support group, to a counselor, or anyone else you trust to listen to you, hear you and help you. That positive act of reaching out is a self-care step that changes your path, if only a bit. And just a bit in a better direction is all it takes to get started.
Be sure to check out my new ecourse – its a great way to battle burnout in the privacy of your own home!