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  1. #1

    diabetes and mood/anger/violence

    Hello,

    First I must thank Dr. Baxter and say that this site is a really wonderful resource. I have found some great answers and been able to share some of my experiences.

    My father is an insulin dependent diabetic and has been my whole life. My younger sister was diagnosed with the disease when she was nine (I was thirteen). I often tell people that I come from a "diabetic family". I have two other sisters and we are not diabetic, but we all test our blood/sugar regularly. My father was diagnosed in the 1970's by a GP. He did not see a diabetes specialist, but stuck with his GP who practiced from a home office. When my sister was diagnosed it was the late 80's and the begining of the age of information. Suddenly our lives changed and we learned, as a family, much more about the disease. My sister went to an endorcrinologist and saw a diabetes counselor. This uped the ante for my Dad's treatment. He aslo started seeing an endocrinologist and a counselor.
    One of the things we became aware of was the affect of low/high blood sugar on moods. Things were often "crazy" in our house with two diabetics whose blood/sugar was more often out of control than in control.
    I am interested in more info on this and I'd love to hear from other people who either have diabetes or, like me, grew up in a "diabetic home".
    For example, my father and sister were known for flying into rages but then, almost as immediately switching to calm and having little memory of having been angry/upset/hurtful. As you might imagine the two of them fought a lot, but they also fought alot with the rest of us.
    When I was in highschool I only knew one other girl whose father was diabetic and she had similar experiences with her father's mood and anger.

    Thanks in advance for any info or shared experience,

    Holly

  2. #2

    diabetes and mood/anger/violence

    That's interesting. I have a cousin who was an undiagnosed diabetic for years until he was in his 20s and his behavior was very erratic. I often wonder if it was related. I think once he got straightened out physically, he did settle down.

  3. #3

    diabetes and mood/anger/violence

    I am no expert on diabetes but I have a couple of clients who exhibit similar patterns of anger/rage when their blood sugar levels are low. It seems to be a known characteristic of the disease.

    I would imagine that the long-term effects on children growing up in families where this was part of the environment would be similar to Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) -- in both cases, a fundamental characteristic from the viewpoint of the child is the unpredictability of that person's outbursts.

    See Adult Children.

  4. #4

    diabetes and mood/anger/violence

    Yes, the mood swings (that range from violent outbursts to catatonic-like apathy) are a known aspect of living with diabetes but in my experience they are not talked about as much as the physical aspects of the disease.
    My mom did a very good job of explaining the sudden mood swings of my dad and sister, but, still we walked on eggshells and had a hard time differentiating what was just the "blood sugar reaction speaking" or what was just my dad or sister speaking.

    To janetr,
    My sister was undiagnosed for about a year and was also acting erratically. After she was diagnosed we learned that her behavior was as much a symptom as her physical ones (like gaining weight and losing it quickly and dramatically). Because my sister was going through puberty when she was diagnosed it took a while for her blood sugar to come under control and her behavior remained erratic for a few years. My father's blood sugar was also a mess because for years prior to my sister's diagnosis, he had simply been injecting himself three times a day with insulin, without testing his blood sugar, thus, it was a blind (and sometimes ineffective) dosage.
    It was sometimes pure craziness in our house. It did get better and better as time went on. My father and sister began seeing a counselor as part of their treatment and that was extremely helpful.
    Has your cousin's behavior become more steady since his diagnosis and treatment?
    Thanks for the responses.

  5. #5

    diabetes and mood/anger/violence

    Quote Originally Posted by holly
    My father's blood sugar was also a mess because for years prior to my sister's diagnosis, he had simply been injecting himself three times a day with insulin, without testing his blood sugar, thus, it was a blind (and sometimes ineffective) dosage.
    It was sometimes pure craziness in our house. .
    Oh wow! That does sound crazy.

    Quote Originally Posted by holly
    It did get better and better as time went on. My father and sister began seeing a counselor as part of their treatment and that was extremely helpful.
    I'm so glad for everyone. It's amazing how physical problems can greatly affect our emotional and psychological state.

    Quote Originally Posted by holly
    Has your cousin's behavior become more steady since his diagnosis and treatment?
    Yes. He was thrown out of many, many boarding schools and lost many jobs, but now he's holding a steady job and even has a girlfriend.

    My father had mood swings like that and was violent, not to me, but to my mom and to things and animals. His father was an alcoholic. My father didn't drink, but I wonder if there is something physical that caused that or if it was just learned behavior. It's interesting trying to fit all the pieces together and see how deeply we're affected by the behavior of our parents.

  6. #6

    diabetes and mood/anger/violence

    Janetr,

    I am glad your cousin is on track. It sounds like his diabetes is being properly treated.

    It is extremely interesting why people behave as they do. I never knew my father before he was diagnosed with diabetes, but according to his friends and family he changed dramatically after his diagnosis. My father never abused us, or my mom, but he had an enormous temper and we never knew what would trigger it. He was totally inconsistent (things that made him angry one day would provoke absolutely no response the next day). Later in life when I had the opportunity to meet other kids of diabetic parents I realized our stories were very similar. It was a relief.

    Perhaps your father had a physical imbalance of some sort that resulted his violent behavior. I think there is still alot to be learned in this area.

    Oddly, my father did not remember many of his "angry episodes". The diabetes counselor said that this is common. Well, it drove us crazy. How could he not remember throwing the radio down the stairs? There was no accountability. He would immediately revert to slightly dazed calmness, as if nothing had happened. That was perhaps the most frustrating part. The flipside however, was that my sisters and I developed incredible patience and learned to look for the signs of a low or high blood sugar reaction so that we could prevent them from getting out of hand.
    I often think that dealing with this when I was young made me sort of non-confrontational. I still hate dealing with anger (in myself or others) and this has definitely affected my life.
    yep, I guess we just keep putting the pieces together.

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