I was diagnosed when I was nine years old and didn’t experience any sort of burnout until I got to college. I think the onset was a mixture of being on my own (though I had been independently managing my diabetes since I was probably 15), taking an extremely heavy load of classes from the start + being an editor for my newspaper, and having to find a new doctor. I think that last part had a big part in it. Up until college, I had been with the same endocrinologist since my diagnosis, but since she was a pediatric endo, the time had come for me to find an adult one. I loved my doctor, and it took a few years before I was able to find one I felt as comfortable with as my first one. I finally found one about a year and a half ago that I feel actually cares about me as both a person and a patient.
For me, I think it was a lot of emotional burnout, which then became physical. I was tired of the burden the disease put on my life, especially when I was so busy with other things. So I started to put my control on the back burner as far as priorities go. I stopped checking my blood sugar more than once or twice a day, and I wasn’t as careful about counting carbs and giving accurate boluses as I had been (before this point, my a1c was always below 7). I jumped around a few different doctors, and eventually went a couple years without even seeing one because I was tired of the search. Now that I have a great doctor, I’ve been getting back on track, but it hasn’t been an easy road. My a1c still hasn’t been below 7.8 since I started college (I’m now 24 and two years out of college, working full-time, and about two months from my 15 year mark with type 1). I think at my appointment coming up in a couple of weeks, I should be right around the 7.2 mark, which is fantastic, for now. I was in the 8-9 range for about 4-5 solid years there, and it’s been an extreme challenge to get back to between 6.2-6.8 like I used to be at. But I’m getting there, and I care, which is what matters now. I’m back to checking 5-8 times/day, counting carbs, bolusing appropriately, etc. I want a CGM but don’t know if I can afford it yet.
If I’m being honest, my main motivation is not for myself (though not developing complications is a big one), but for my future family. If it’s what God wants for me (and I hope it is), I will be married eventually, and I want kids more than anything. So a huge motivation for me is knowing that eventually, I’ll be wanting to get pregnant, and if I want healthy children, then I need to be healthy and have great control of my diabetes first.
So, all that to say, I think burnout is different for everyone who experiences it. I think it’s a very emotional thing for everyone, but it manifests itself in taking care (or not taking care) of the physical side of diabetes. That might mean something minor and short-lived, or it might be a complete disregard for caring for the disease for an extended period.