How to have a diabetes meltdown day

Out of nowhere, my son came to me one day and said, “Mom, I think it’s about time for me to take a diabetes meltdown day. You know, like the kind of day that Joe mentioned? A day where I get to complain about how much life with diabetes sucks and you will just tell me I am wonderful and do everything for me.”

Ah yes, I remembered.  If you have never had the chance to listen to Joe Solowiejczyk talk about a diabetes mental health day, you are missing out.  Joe has lived with type 1 diabetes forever. He is a nurse as well as a family therapist who specializes in helping families living with type 1 diabetes. He advises that every once in awhile, everyone needs to have a meltdown for the good of their mental health.

If you live with type 1 diabetes, you get tired. I am not talking the regular, I haven’t slept tired. I am talking about the mental and physical exhaustion that comes from bolusing, testing, counting carbs, and treating highs and lows numerous times every single day of your life.

It is not surprising that after years of this life, people with diabetes become depressed or burnout.  For the good of your mental health, a diabetes meltdown day is an option.

What is a diabetes meltdown day?

diabetes meltdown day Diabetes Advocacy

According to Joe Solowiejczyk, every once in awhile, it can be therapeutic to simply spend the day hating your diabetes.  Allow yourself to wallow in how crappy things are and be supported by your friends. You get to do this for a full 24 hours or until you have had enough.

How to plan for your diabetes meltdown.

Before you can have your diabetes meltdown, some plans must be made.

  • Have a loved one available to take care of your diabetes needs for the day.
  • Make sure that you have friends who are willing to call and text you every hour to tell you how brave and wonderful you are.  They should pile on the compliments and empathy like there is no tomorrow.
  • Have a glucometer or other diabetes device ready that you can sacrifice under the wheels of your car.
  • Line up your favourite feel-good movies or tv shows that you can binge-watch all day long.
  • Fill your freezer with your favourite ice-cream flavours and make sure you have enough insulin to cover your misery.  
diabetes meltdown

How to have a diabetes meltdown.

Step one

Once you have everything set up and are ready to take your mental health day, the first thing to do is to take that glucometer (or whatever device you have decided to use) outside and run it over.  Put it under your car’s wheels and crush it like you would love to crush your diabetes.

If it is a child with diabetes who is having their meltdown day, take them to a safe place, give them safety glasses and a hammer and let them pound out their frustrations on the device.

Step two

Next, you can settle into your day of feeling sorry for yourself.  Have your loved one or dear friend check your blood glucose levels for you.  Keep your phone near to you and fully charged so that you can receive all of your phone calls and text messages.

Find your most cozy pj’s and blanket and settle in.  Get your bowl of ice-cream and have your support person tell you how amazing you are for counting carbs and injecting every day as they give you the insulin you need to cover your food. 

Step three

Begin to binge-watch your favourite comedy or sappy show while managing your messages of empathy and support.

Keep this up for as long as you need.  Allow yourself to just hate having diabetes.  Give yourself the chance to set your mind free watching something that makes you feel happy.

How long will it take?

It is your mental health and your break. You can do this for as long as you like over the course of 24 hours. For my son, well it didn’t last very long.  He liked the break but soon felt like getting back to his life.

The moral of the story

The point behind Joe’s diabetes meltdown day was simply a day to allow yourself to feel, grieve, and take a break.  Perhaps you don’t have someone who can come over and care for you for a day but you probably have an old glucometer that you no longer need.  Put it under the wheel of your car or take a hammer to it. Release some of your frustrations in a relatively harmless way.

You may not like ice-cream.  Go for a walk or exercise instead.  Do something that is a pleasure for you that has nothing to do with diabetes care. Perhaps you would rather lose yourself in a book rather than a tv show. Again, it is okay. Do whatever allows you to focus on your mental well-being and unclutter your mind.

Take time to look after your mental as well as your physical health with diabetes

Create your own diabetes meltdown day and customize it for your own needs.  Take a day, an afternoon, or just an hour and make it all about you and not you and your diabetes. Find a safe way to put diabetes out of your mind for a period of time.  Focus on refreshing yourself and allowing yourself to recharge in a safe and healthy way.

Check out our Diabetes Planner for more mental wellness tips.

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