How do diabetics work in the diabetes field?

As many of you know, I am on a bit of a hiatus from this site and all social media outlets related to t1dactiveliving.

Firstly, thank you for all of your encouraging messages. They have been so wonderful to read and hear in person.

This time has been the most beneficial for me in terms of my sanity. Overwhelmed, stressed, over-worked. It was getting ugly.

I popped in from time to time to see what was happening but for the most part, I have been in my blissful world of relaxation.

Revelations from my time away

Most diabetics who do some type of work in the diabetes field (whether it be for a diabetes publication, dblog, drug or pump company) do need time apart and burn out.

I felt very alone and guilty for taking time away, but I was quickly greeted by others out there telling me that they’ve been there too. Maybe some of them can’t say how draining it can be to be immersed in diabetes for so much of the day (talking about it, reading about it etc.) but I can.

It’s so liberating to be able to write whatever I want on this blog, so I will say this: It is damn hard to be diabetic and work in the diabetes field.

My belief

If you don’t find it difficult at all, you are in denial or don’t really see how much of yourself that you sacrifice. Maybe it’s a job that pays well, a passion for advocacy in some way or something else. Either way, it takes something out of you.

No matter what your reason for working in the diabetes field, you give a part of yourself.

To all those that do what you do…thank you. It takes skill, will power and strength to keep going day after day, on top of everything else.

Lots of love,

J

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6 Comments

  1. I’d love to share some of my own experiences here. I don’t want to generalize these to the entire diabetes community, but I know there are folks out there who feel the same way that I do. (In fact, connecting with those folks has been my inspiration to keep moving forward and not pack up and build a tree fort to live in on a remote island…)

    I have never felt burn out because I live with diabetes and have been working in the diabetes industry. I have been working in the diabetes industry for 15 years, full time for the past 6. (I also don’t feel that any denial around that, either.)

    Here’s a bit of perspective:

    I’m not saying I’ve never experienced burnout related to work – I have. But I could never say it is because I’m a person with diabetes. In fact, I think that living with diabetes is what makes me love my job so much – it doesn’t feel as much like ‘work’! (I’ve also taught in a classroom and guided outdoor adventure programs – both totally unrelated to diabetes – so I do have a point of comparison.) In the times, working with Connected in Motion, when I have felt work burnout, it is because of the tasks I am doing, and really has nothing to do with my diabetes, or CIM’s mission. Some days, I do get sick of answering emails. Some days, I do wish I was doing something other than fundraising. A lot of times, I wish I were out paddling or hiking instead of sitting at my computer, but I could really never say that that has anything to do with my personal connection to my work’s mission.

    On the flip side – I don’t think I could say that the diabetes-related burnout that I’ve experienced is related to my work in the field. In fact, I honestly do feel that it’s helped me. Regardless of what is happening in my work-life, I’m still going to have to test, I’m still going to have to deal with highs and lows, I’m still going to have to be conscious of what I eat, when/how I move, and the stresses I’m feeling. That still happened when I was teaching in a classroom. That still happens when I’m out guiding canoe trips. Today, when I start to feel burnout creeping into my life, I don’t have to look far to find someone to talk to – someone who gets it. The ending of my burnout stories were a lot different when I was working in an elementary school classroom.

    At the end of the day, it’s clear that each person is going to deal with their burnout in different ways. For me, I try to dig deep to figure out what it is that’s making me feel like I’m ready to quit – Maybe I don’t need to be starting my day reading emails. Maybe I do need to get out and go for a run in the middle of the afternoon each day. Or maybe I do need to just head out and spend a day at Walt Disney World (yep – that just happened!) and leave work behind for a bit. Each person will deal with it differently.

    I don’t think that people who choose to work in diabetes while living with the disease are in denial, nor should they feel that they are sacrificing their lives. (I can’t quite wrap my head around that thought, actually – what it is that is being sacrificed? What is it that it takes out of you that a regular 9-5 job (or in the case of most diabetes industry burnout, non-profit work) wouldn’t?)

    Just some more thoughts from a different perspective!

    Reply

    1. Thank you for this Jen. It’s very inspiring and I really did not mean for this post to sound negative as in, “Look at these people just slaving away for the good of the Diabetes community. By sacrifice and giving a part of yourself I mean that you openly share your experiences that are good and bad, and for me, as a newly diagnosed t1d, I think that takes a lot of courage on your part (I feel it’s extremely courageous.” Sharing your diabetes story to me is an act of courage because from my perspective you are sharing yourself, making yourself vulnerable. I did not mean any disrespect by this post at all. Thank you for your comments Jen.

      I think it’s safe to say that without CIM I would not be where I am today. Thank you for all that you do.

      Reply

      1. No worries at all, Jessie! Just wanted to leave some thoughts in case they resonate with anyone else out there! 🙂 Keep on being awesome! xo

  2. precisely why I could never EVER see myself doing something in this field as a career. I get so violently angry with diabetes it would probably ruin my life.

    Fuck betes. Live life!!

    Reply

  3. P.S. I didn’t see Jens comment until now. I really appreciate that perspective and that’s why Jen is so amazing at doing what she is doing. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for people like her. I am envious but at the same time I know FULL WELL I’d lose my mind if I was trying to be in her position.
    I am the follower, SHE is the leader!

    Reply

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