Diabetes Social Media Burnout?

Welcome to Tuesday. September 1st. Oh, and it’s my brother’s birthday. Happy Birthday Chuck!

Thanks to the people at Diabetes Daily, today is also Diabetes Social Media Burnout Blog Day. According to Diabetes Daily:

“… let’s talk about ways in which we can address and take care of our burnout! Let’s talk about ways in which we can step back for a bit and re-fuel or ways in which we can handle the situations where we feel like we’re being attacked or even where we might find ourselves attacking others for differences in opinion.”
Okay… there are a few things I should get straight with you right from the outset:

First, maybe I’m late to the party, or maybe I just like this all too much, but I haven’t really felt social media burnout to the extent suggested by this topic. I’ve been connected to the internet since the early 1990s, but never in a big way until I found the Diabetes Online Community (the DOC) four years ago. Also, I never owned a mobile phone until about four years ago, and I’ve only owned a smart phone for the past few months. So that probably has a lot to do with it.

Second, and I hope I’m not jinxing myself, but I haven’t ever really been attacked on the internet. I’ve encountered a few uncomfortable situations here and there, discussions where someone felt a certain way on a subject, and were ready to go toe to toe with me if I disagreed with them. But those moments were few, and by and large, unless that person was advocating for something dangerous or unquestionably wrong, I just let them vent. Didn’t cost me a thing to do so.

Third, my influence on the internet, and within the diabetes community, isn’t that big to begin with. If someone wants to attack me, they’ll have to hit a pretty small target. I’m a fierce target… but when it comes right down to it, nobody is going to feel a lot of pride trying to knock down someone like me. I’m not a big enough fish for most trolls.
That’s not to say I haven’t ever experienced social media burnout. Usually, it’s around the time when I am busier than usual already. What I try to do is think of my social media interactions as fun. If it’s not fun, if it seems like too much of a chore, then I back off a bit.

Also, when I get a vacation (which is rare these days, but still), I usually disconnect totally from social media for the week or so I’m away. Once I do that, I’m really ready to engage with others again. Also, it seems like something big always happens during those rare times when I’m not as active on social media. More impetus to jump back into the conversation.
As for being attacked? It’s only happened twice that I know of, but I’ve experienced situations where someone accused me of somehow being a shill for a large company, or being part of a select group of bloggers within the DOC that always gets to go to big events while others stay home. Here’s how I deal with something like that:

Look… I know who I am, and what I stand for. I’m not afraid to change my stance on something if I feel that my stance needs to be changed. When someone has something critical to say, I try to listen first and consider whether there is merit to what someone is unhappy about. I allow for the possibility that I may be wrong. That’s a difficult thing to do, and I do it. And sometimes, I’ve changed my point of view. Also, it should be noted, I’ve paid my own way to nearly everything I’ve attended.

I also know the difference between disappointment and bitterness.

I didn’t get to go to MasterLab this year, or Friends for Life (never been to Friends for Life, actually). I am really bummed about that; I’m incredibly disappointed that I didn’t get to make it this year, and it still affects me when I think about it.

Now, if I were to take to the internet and complain about the people who were there, accusing them of being part of an exclusive clique of bloggers who always get to go to big diabetes events and hang out with each other all the time, blah, blah, blah (we’ve heard this before, right?)… well, that’s just bitterness. Bitterness comes from someplace different from disappointment. Those people who went to MasterLab this year? It’s not their fault I didn’t get to go. I get a lot more emotional mileage from being happy that they are there, as opposed to criticizing them for my not being there.

Bitterness can come from disappointment. But disappointment is never an excuse for bitterness. When the only argument you have is to say, in effect, “I’m better than you because look how bad you are”, that’s bitterness. I’m not going to give you my time. You have to own your bitterness all by yourself.

Also, I will add this: When you attack people in the diabetes community, you are attacking my friends. People who have laughed with me, who have befriended me, people who have commiserated with me through my failures, and celebrated with me through my successes. You don’t mess with my friends.

If it weren’t for this community, I wouldn’t be where I am today, physically, emotionally, or just about any other way you can think of.
Finally, and I hope this doesn’t sound overly simplistic, but I try to think of the information superhighway just the way I think of an actual superhighway. Along the road, there are places to eat, places to lay your head at night, places to gather socially with one another, places to share experiences, places to ask questions and seek advice.

Along the superhighway, there are good, helpful, strong individuals who live in communities that protect one another and support and encourage one another. And there are terrible, awful people, who thrive on the misery of others, and try to pump up their own sense of self-worth at the expense of someone else. Unfortunately, there is nothing to bar the access of those people from the information superhighway. The best we can do is protect ourselves, and each other.

Well, those are a lot of words, and maybe not a lot of advice. But if I were giving advice on dealing with social media burnout? I’d say: Participate as long as it’s fun and/or meaningful to you. Encourage and support others. Learn the difference between disappointment and bitterness. And…

Do not let a bitter person steal your voice.

The blog post I did not want to write.

This is the blog post I did not want to write.

I love writing here. Actually, I love writing. I enjoy being a part of the Diabetes Online Community, and I enjoy writing (and now podcasting) maybe more than anything else I’ve done in the past few years. It’s a constant source of enlightenment (yes, I learn from you). It’s a constant source of joy to look at a topic and write something meaningful. It’s fun. A lot of why I do this is because it’s fun. It’s a gift to be able do this, and it’s one I’m grateful for every day.

But my paying job needs me right now. Until the end of the year, my work weeks that usually total around 40 or so hours are now totaling around 55 hours or so. That’s not so much when you’re 25, but it’s a lot when you’re 53. Also, The Great Spousal Unit has been away almost as much as she’s been home over the last few months, and I really feel like, you know, since I made this commitment to her 22 years ago, I should actually spend time with her when she’s here. Both of those things have seriously cut into my time to write and podcast.

Let me be clear: I am not closing up shop. I will continue to write. I will be delivering new episodes of Diabetes By The Numbers. If you write to me requesting a Champion Athlete With Diabetes medal, I will be happy to send one out. I still plan to participate in the #DSMA Twitter conversations every Wednesday night. I’m not saying no to anything, and I will try to fit whatever I can into my schedule any way I can. I am not going away.

But, though it really hurts my heart to say it, unless something changes, my pretty much three-times-per-week posts will be less frequent through the end of the year. Once we reach January, I suspect that will change and I will be able to go back to something a little more regular again. That’s what I want, and that’s what I like. I write here for you, but I write here for me too. Can you get endorphins from writing?

The really good news is that there are still plenty of other diabetes blogs to read, and even more coming online all the time. I get so much reading about others living with diabetes, their experiences, their challenges, and how they’ve met them with bravery and resilience. That should hold me for a while, and I hope it will hold you too in the times when you don’t see something new here.

I’ll talk to you soon… I promise.

The athletes among us.

The fact is, I have a number of Champion Athlete With Diabetes medal winners to talk about. Somehow, I got sidetracked and haven’t talked about it for a while.

Then I received a couple of e-mails in the past week about a couple of athletes who are growing, learning, and reaching their athletic goals while hauling diabetes around with them everywhere they go. Those people are fantastic, and they make me want to be like them.

If you live with diabetes, or someone close to you lives with diabetes, you know it’s hard. Sometimes, diabetes is a needy, clinging thing that requires constant attention. If you can deal with that and are still motivated enough to chase your athletic dreams, I am in awe of you and your achievements.

Previous medal winners have come from far and wide: as close to me as Northern Virginia, as far away as Trinidad, and also New Zealand. And those medal winners have minted their medals in a variety of ways: half marathons, basketball, curling, lifeguard competition, and so much more. We’ve given away over 30 medals, and I still get pumped every time I read a new e-mail from a D-athlete.

Every athlete’s story is a unique one, but they all leave me with the same feeling. The feeling that they are greater than the medals they wear. It’s not an overstatement to say they are inspirational. It’s not too much to call them heroes.
So let’s raise a toast to our wonderful athletes. And if you are conquering diabetes at the same time you’re conquering your competition, I have a medal just like the one above for you too. Here’s what you do to get one:
1. The athlete receiving the award must be living with diabetes.

2. The athletic event must have taken place in the last six months. For now, we’re going with a pretty loose interpretation of the word “event”. If you feel you’ve accomplished something important to you, that’s an event. ‘Nuf said.

3. Send me an e-mail at champswithdiabetes@gmail.com. Tell me your name, name of the athlete (it’s okay if it’s you), and your address (gotta know where to send the medal). Most important, tell me what athletic goal was accomplished, and when. Extra points if you tell me how you felt accomplishing the goal. Full disclosure: I reserve the right to use your testimonial here, on Twitter, and on Facebook. I will not use your name if you don’t want me to. As always, I will never share private information.

4. When you receive your medal, it would be great if you post a photo of it around the athlete’s neck. You can send a Tweet to @ChampsWithD (hashtag: #champdathletes) or post it on the Champion Athletes With Diabetes Facebook Page.
I salute you, Champion D-Athletes. It takes a rather large amount of courage to compete, or maintain an exercise routine. Heck, sometimes, it’s everything we can do just to climb the stairs. Getting out of your comfort zone and taking that brave step is something that should be recognized and rewarded.

If it’s a big deal to you, it’s a big deal to me too. I want to support you, or support the Athlete With Diabetes in your life. Don’t wait… send me an e-mail for your award. There are plenty more where these came from.

Imagine this:

This post is for everyone who does not live with diabetes.

Hi there… thanks for taking a few minutes out of your day to visit my space on the internet. Today, I’d like you to close your eyes and imagine this:
Imagine that you’ve just gotten a life-altering diagnosis from your doctor. You’ve been told that you have an incurable disease. You can manage your disease, enough to stay alive, but it’s still an inexact science and often, just when you think you have things well in hand, you face a life-threatening situation. Completely out of the blue. Even though you’re “doing everything right”. Like I said, an inexact science.

Imagine voluntarily poking your finger multiple times each day, just so you can have a benchmark from which to apply your inexact science. Imagine having to do it more often on the days when you feel your worst, like when you have the flu, or after you’ve had a terrible bout with hypoglycemia this morning.

Imagine you’re an insulin pumper. To be able to get the one thing that keeps you alive, you have to be willing to abuse your body every three days, injecting a thick needle with a spring loaded device. Once you remove the needle, a little plastic cannula is left behind. Having a foreign object in your midsection, your behind, your thigh, or your arm for 72 hours means you’ll eventually develop scar tissue that will make it even harder to abuse your body every three days.

Imagine you’re using a continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, to help keep abreast of how your blood sugar is trending throughout the day. Great tool… but there’s another injectable, this one every seven days.

Now, imagine you’re not an insulin pumper. Great. Now you have to inject your insulin using a syringe several times each day.

Imagine having to fight to get insurance to cover even part of this, including the very drug you need to stay alive. Oh, maybe you can get that drug, but it’s not the version of the drug that works best for you, because your insurance carrier has decided they can make more money by steering you to another version. The brand that’s covered doesn’t work as well for you? When you’re on the brand of insulin we cover, your glucose runs high all the time, potentially causing co-morbidities to become a reality? So what… we make more money with it, so you’ll use it. And pay us for the privelege.

Imagine a state legislature and a congress that allows this to happen.

Imagine being told, at the age of 65, when you’re eligible for Medicare, that you’ll have to give up your CGM because it’s not covered. Imagine a congress that allows this to happen.

Imagine living with the threat of all of the things that might happen to you as a result of living with diabetes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, without a vacation, whether or not you were able to manage your diabetes well over the years.
The point here isn’t to guilt you, dear reader, into feeling sorry for all of us living with and affected by diabetes. Instead, the point is to show you how much we endure, and how strong we really are, even at our weakest.

People With Diabetes are your friends and neighbors. Family. Co-workers. Teachers and students. Infants, teenagers, adults, and seniors.

Imagine a world where one is not stigmatized by nature of the disease they live with, but rather recognized for their endurance despite the nature of the disease they live with.

Like These Links.

Welcome to Friday! Don’t forget to wear blue today to support and encourage everyone living with and affected by #diabetes. I’ve got one more day of software training in New Jersey, then it’s back home tonight. In the meantime, check out this #diabetes click bait.
Does wearing an insulin pump help you have a healthier heart too? Some researchers in the UK think so. I think there are other reasons why this might be true, but there seems to be a link there anyway. Check out this link for the full report:
Insulin Pump Reduces Mortality from Cardiovascular Disease By Almost 50%
Lauren Stanford has a nice recap of the five things that have helped her deal with diabetes burnout and further transition into adulthood:
5 Things That Helped Me Cure Diabetes Burnout
Lauren and her mom Moira are joining the JDRF riders gathering this weekend in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. It’s a little old, but if you haven’t seen it yet, this is worth a read. Moira has this to say about her recovery from a broken ankle and foot, and why her ride is especially important this year:
I’m BACK ON MY BIKE!!! (The One Where I Realize a Harsh Reality)

And thank you both for riding for all of us with Type 1.
Kristin is one of my favorite writers. Last week, she had a less than fun day. This is why we need better, more accurate, more affordable tools to help us manage diabetes:
Diabetes Pulled A Punk-Ass Move
Finally… Hope Warshaw has a wonderful feature on her blog where she interviews DOC champions. Her latest is a nice interview with Kelly Kunik. She talks about starting her blog, finding the Diabetes Online Community, what it means to her, and #IWishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes. Check it out:
Dialoging About Diabetes: PWDs Offer Ways to Improve Communication and Care #11 Kelly Kunik
Enjoy the reads, and enjoy your weekend. Thanks for reading! Have you read anything interesting lately?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,011 other followers