“I am surprised you have not given up yet,” a nurse said to me somewhere in Year Three of my search for a diagnosis. I knew my body was fighting something, but I had no idea what was coming around the corner. 

Finally, I got my Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) diagnosis in August of 2022. I felt vindicated, like I had just won something, because finally, I had answers. But shortly after the enthusiasm wore off, I quickly realized that this is something I now have to deal with for the rest of my life. Over the next year, I started experiencing what I now recognize as chronic illness burnout. Most people talk about fighting for answers when it comes to chronic conditions, not many talk about grieving the life you once lived once you receive them.

My journey led me to founding MedDefend, where I’m able to give others a better way to navigate healthcare, including managing burnout. What does chronic illness burnout look like, and what can you do to address it? Below, we’re sharing some of our best advice. 

Do I Have Chronic Illness Burnout?

Chronic Illness Burnout is feeling overwhelmed by your illness. This is easy to do when it comes to chronic conditions: you have to manage your day-to-day symptoms, doctor visits, insurance conversations, advocating for yourself, and more. No longer can you live the life you once knew of always being available to get up and go without a moment’s notice. 

Here are some signs you are experiencing chronic illness burnout:

  1. Avoiding Social Situations: Whether it’s avoiding going out in public or to an outing with friends, staying inside and avoiding social interactions can be a big sign of burnout in general.
  2. Short Fuse: Do you catch yourself getting angered more easily? People can be jerks when it comes to chronic conditions, especially with common phrases like, “You don’t look sick” and “Just push through it” constantly being thrown our way. It can be hard to manage emotions when you’re dealing with chronic health issues. If you feel yourself becoming more emotional and responsive, this can be a sign you are burnt out. 
  3. Missing Doctor Appointments: Avoiding the doctor can also be a sign of chronic illness burnout. Sometimes you may want to avoid finding out something else could be wrong, or go through another round of testing.

Steps You Can Take to Address Chronic Illness Burnout

Accept what health conditions cannot be solved, and focus on what you can solve

You know that saying “control what you can control?” Well, I hated hearing that when I got diagnosed with POTS, but it’s true. I cannot cure my POTS; I can only learn to manage my symptoms and live in my new norm. I modify my activities, eating habits, and work schedule to ensure I am avoiding flare-ups at all costs. Speaking with others who share my condition has helped a ton with learning how to navigate my new life. 

Ask for help, find your support system

This one is sometimes easier said than done. Like we mentioned before, people can be jerks, and if you don’t have a chronic condition, it’s often hard to understand. Try to find people outside of your friends and family to connect with. Support groups, advocacy groups, or fundraisers are a great place to start. 

Practice good mental health

We recommend everyone suffering from a chronic condition try to see a counselor. It won’t be for everyone, but therapy provides a convenient, unbiased environment to air all your frustrations. Getting diagnosed is half the battle; learning to live with your condition is the other half. Therapists are a great place to build the blocks you need to tackle your daily life with a chronic condition and manage burnout. 

Navigating the Healthcare System is Easier with the Right Partner

At MedDefend, we provide a new way to navigate healthcare. Unlike other tools out there, we stick with you from A-Z. We help assess your current condition, and offer guidance and advice on diagnoses, all while giving access to a community of like-minded peers and providers. 

Fighting a chronic condition is exhausting, and we want to take a little off your plate to let you know you are not alone. Follow us for more content and information, and if you’re ready to get in touch with one of MedDefend’s knowledgeable health advocates, book an appointment today.