Time to use some crowd control?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2011-12-19 09:36:55 -0600
Started 2011-11-06 19:01:02 -0600

Who are you surrounding yourself with these days?

You have probably heard that old expression, “the company you keep.” Well, whoever said it first certainly knew what they were talking about. Most likely, he or she learned it from experiences, some good and some not so good. As most of us have.

If you are facing a health challenge, it’s really important to have as many supportive people as possible in your life. Facing a chronic condition is a day-to-day journey. Nobody should have to walk that road alone.

Here is a question for you. What does your support network look like? Maybe the best way to answer that is: How do you feel after you spend time with the people in your life? Do you feel cared for? Listened to? Understood? Accepted for who you are? Confident that you have somebody to rely on if you need them? Basically, be there for you. If so, then you have some solid support behind you. And are there also people in your life who leave you feeling judged, ignored, criticized, misunderstood? How many people in the plus column and the minus column?

Not feeling so supported right now? If you want to figure out why, the starting place might be to think about what kind of people you most need in your life. So here’s another question to ask yourself: What the word “supportive” mean to you? And what do you most value in the people you surround yourself with?

To help you answer that question, here are some of the qualities of a supportive friend or family member:

Listens without judging you

Offers advice when you ask for it but does not tell you what to do

Gives you a helping hand when you need it, and lets you do the same for them

Defends you when other people criticize you

Lets you be the real you, and is real with you in return

Has an optimistic attitude toward life and encourages you to be optimistic

Let’s you express how you’re feeling, without cutting you off and telling you to “think positive” or “get over it”

Asks you questions about what it is like to deal with your diagnosis instead of making assumptions or pretending everything is fine

Doesn’t share with othes what you have said without your permission

Treats you with respect, when you are together and in front of other people

Stays with you during those times when you aren’t at your best

Now, keep in mind that these are some pretty tall requirements. Unless your friend or family member’s middle name is God, expecting one person to have all of these qualities is a whole lot to ask, and probably too much to ask. After all, like us, the people in our lives are human. They have good days and bad days, strengths and weaknesses, and their own challenges to deal with.

Try to avoid expecting one person to be everything you need, to be the perfect supporter. That’s a lot to ask.

You might find that some people in your life can offer some of what you need, and you for them. Maybe they are good listeners, for example, but for reasons of their own can’t give you a helping hand when you need it. Or maybe you have a friend that you check in with once in awhile if you need to hear some “tough love” when you’re having trouble with staying compliant, or some practical advice. Most likely, your friends and family look to you for certain kinds of support and not other kinds.

Let people be who they are, accept them with their strengths and their limitations, and ask them to do the same for you. That’s what support is all about. And remember that there is more than one person in a support network, that’s why it’s called a network.

You might find that you have people in your life who want to be supportive but don’t know how to. They may need a little advice, a gentle push, some “patient” education. Sitting down with a friend or family member and letting them know how their behavior affects you, and how they could be more supportive, might help to turn the relationship around.

Is it time to take some action to make positive changes in your support network? People in your life who can’t or won’t be supportive? Drama makers? They may need to be deleted from your guest list.

You may not be able to completely control who you have and don’t have in your life. Your family members, your room-mate, your co-workers… they probably aren’t going anywhere. But you can learn ways to live with them without being brought down by their negativity or lack of support. Remind yourself that if they can’t be supportive, it is their own limitation and not because something is wrong with you. Accept what you can’t change and focus on what’s working in your life. Mix things up by surrounding yourself with as many supportive people as possible.

Here’s another way to look at the list. What kind of a support are you to the people in your life? Don’t forget, this is a two-way street. You could also say that the best way to have the support that you need is to also be supportive toward other people. It’s a matter of putting out the energy that you most want to attract.

Still hanging out with that same old crowd?

It might be time to use some crowd control. Bring people into your life that can team up with you to bring out the best in each other. Support is power!

27 replies

LabRat90 2011-12-19 09:36:55 -0600 Report

Thanks Dr. Gary for making me take an honest look at my support system. I usually have a great one, at home, at work and even across the miles with my sisters. But sometimes I get so frustrated with the one person I can't walk away from. I wish sometimes that she would focus on her own diet and less on others. Every diabetic is different in what one can eat because of metabolism, exercise, and just genetics. I wish she would just understand so we could have a great holiday together without the criticism.

nzingha 2011-11-07 22:58:37 -0600 Report

…u know i never thought about this before.. but except for my mother, who took great care of my father with his diabetes before he died, no one else in my extended family ever asks me how i am feeling, whether i have my diabetes under control, or even try to ensure that i stay within my limits, always offring me things they know i should not be eating..maybe they dont understand or because i dont look sick on the outside..huuummm interesting!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-11-10 14:44:19 -0600 Report


You do make a good point here. Diabetes is invisible in a lot of ways. As a result, I wonder if people don't, out of their own lack of understanding or denial, assume that it is not a big dieal or, if you ignore it, it will just go away. And since you look good, why not reward yourself with a big hunk of cake? (So they can have one with you and not feel guilty.)

It seems there is always room for more education, even if it makes you feel like a broken record. But all the more important to stick close to the people who do get it, who are walking that road with you.



GabbyPA 2011-11-08 14:43:18 -0600 Report

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said you don't "look" sick. Out of sight out of mind. People just forget because we don't have a physical look to us that makes us scream I have an illness. I am glad for that personally, but I don't think people really "believe" we have an illness that can easily kill us.

annesmith 2011-11-13 02:12:23 -0600 Report

I'm glad you brought that up. I have noticed that most people that are not educated on diabetes seriously think there is a diabetic "look"—-they think that if a person looks strong , as in, they have a bigger body build, like a wrestler, or they have big bones, or , they look " hard and healthy", that that person is not diabetic. I have run into tons and tons of people that think all diabetics look weak all the time, that they are all super skinny, that all of us look "soft", that we all look pale all the time…we all don't always look this way. I have plenty of days when I look good and healthy on the outside and my blood sugar is well over 200. I understand why they are thinking this, in fact, many years ago before I was diagnosed I thought pretty much the same thing—-I , along with them , thought all diabetics looked weak and pale…I have met quite a few diabetics that have strong voices, a very strong stature, and they can be walking around with a blood sugar of 300…I was at work one day, and said to a co-worker that so and so is diabetic , and the co-worker saw him walk by and she said " OH, NO…he can't possibly be diabetic…look at how hard his face is, and how strongly he walks, plus , he doesn't even look weak ever…" I got real quiet. It's kind of humorous in a way how we as humans get images of how people supposedly "look" if they have certain illnesses. ANNE

nzingha 2011-11-08 19:51:38 -0600 Report

in fact when the diabetes was inside destroying my body.. i looked really great…now I am healthier than I have been in the past year but the medication shows in my eyes and my eyes dont look as bright as they did before.. but I am healthier than ever… sugar under control and its reflected in my dental works, my skin tone, my hair…they never ask…

GabbyPA 2011-11-07 10:03:36 -0600 Report

You know what I have found is that unless I am actively talking about and working on my diabetes goals, the support is not really there. Not that they are not supportive, but unless I am proactive, they are not really paying much attention either.

I got inspired by a few members here to do some things and as I am working on those, I see my support is coming back. How interesting...I never realized that until I read this post.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-11-10 14:37:47 -0600 Report

HI Gabby!

Thanks for jumping in. It seems like, when we are getting real support, we are also more likely to see what real support is. Inspiring each other is a big a big part of support, and we have a lot of that here!

I hope you are having a great week,


annesmith 2011-11-13 02:23:13 -0600 Report

Yes, Dr Gary, I accepted your friendship request…thank you!!!!!! Thank you for the reminders on who we surround ourselves with…I remind myself regularly not to get careless. I have found , especially over the last year, to stick with talking about my diabetes in general with other diabetics…I used to try to talk about it with a lot of nondiabetics, and they pretty much meant well, but, I'd usually be left with a blank expression from them , or, some would tell me " You know, all diabetes can be reversed purely through strict dieting…there's no excuse for it." I learned the hard way a few times. Then, I really learned well that there will always be a nondiabetic that deliberately tries to interfere with what my doctor says…this type of person does not crop up very often , but, surprisingly, these types of people DO exist. I have learned to change the subject right away, and to NEVER never never bring up any health problems with this type of personality. Yes…I have learned, and continue to stay focused on positive people and to have a positive attitude. I am astounded in a way, that anybody on the face of the earth would live each and every day trying to control people's illnesses…but, I just pray for them, as, I realize I have God to answer to , and I do not want to disappoint God by being overly judgemental. I just tell myself " Well, maybe this person had a hard life growing up, maybe he or she has control issues that they are having a lot of difficulty with." It can be super hard on some days with this type, but, I have learned…I look forward to talking with you again!!!!—-Sincerely, ANNE

GabbyPA 2011-11-11 09:24:49 -0600 Report

Support is funny. I am glad for my safety nets. Those are always there, I just don't always use them as much as I should.

pixsidust 2011-11-07 01:07:09 -0600 Report

I think all of us have had friends like Job of the Bible who came to heckle him in his misfortune. The most common thread is that his friends said Job you must have done something or this would not have happened to you. When I was diagnosed like Job my friends at work said the same. I was to blame for Diabetes.

My support that has been unconditional has been with my sister Carrie. She is the bright light that always believes my best, cries when I cry and just plain loves me.

Recently I cut a key person out of my life very purposefully because of their lack of honesty and behind the scenes manipulations. I let them know, I forgave them but chose not to keep their company. I felt better for it, to do as I felt right. Many are afraid to let someone go but forgiveness does not mean you must continue that relationship.

I am the backbone of my family and for years supported many. At the age of 55, I decided its time for me and am taking my first rest. I raised my sisters as my Mother abandoned us. Cared for my grandparents in their elder years until they died. Took care of my mother financially. Paid bills for my sisters when time was tough and live liked a Pauper to be able to do it.

As a recruiter, I saw folks in that vulnerable unemployed time. I try to inspire, teach, motivate and give hope while trying to find work for each. Funny after 25 years with one company, I am unemployed now.
A couple of job hopefuls, I took shopping to buy work clothes and one got groceries. The kid across the street got new school shoes and supplies for a couple of years. Then there was my nieces friend who had no coat in the dead of a St Louis winter and this scratches the surface.

I am glad for this site and the wonderful people. James and others are such an asset. Assessing who we have for support is so important.

I have read here where some have family members who make unkind statements to them about weight etc..I believe family does not have to be who you were born into but can be who God places in you life. Family can be found in many places…I am glad to be part of the Diabetic Connect Family.

annesmith 2011-11-13 02:37:40 -0600 Report

Yes…I have run into co-workers over the years at more than one job who simply think that I did something to bring the diabetes on. I even believed them for a short while. It's genetic predominantly, although, I have read a lot of current research which predicts within the next 10-20 years, 1 out of 3 people will become type 2 diabetic—-so, there has to be something with our fast food eating , more sedentary lifestyles as compared to people 50-100 years ago, that causes diabetes, HOWEVER, nobody should be punished for it, regardless. I honestly believe that with THAT many people predicted to become type 2, half of it is the way we all eat, HOWEVER, it does not, in any way , shape or form, mean that all these people did it on purpose—-of course not. I think that most of it is genetic, in fact, I know it is for a fact…one of the best E.R. physicians in the state of Iowa told me that diabetes is genetic, and that fast food, etc just aggravates it. I suppose those co-workers who think we all did something to bring it on have a small point——our modern day lifestyles have obviously made diabetic statistics SOAR, I suppose they could make a good case in point by saying we ate too much fast food ( for those that happened to). However, it's mostly genetic, so, even after 1 in 3 people becomes diabetic , I myself would still say over 50% of them already had diabetes in their genes. A good case in point from me: I bet there were thousands of type 2 diabetics 50-100 years ago that had it, but medicine back then did not find it …so, with all the good modern day technology we have, it is tracked down sooner and with more accuracy than it was back then. I do think that our lifestyles have added TO the problem…that much I will agree on…hope this helps!!—and, by the way, whoever told you at work you did something to bring on your diabetes was either insensitive as all get-out, hateful towards diabetics, or undeducated, or, all of the above…they were wrong…ANNE

Mickey/CCHT 2011-11-07 01:29:49 -0600 Report

You are so correct about family. Family is who is there for you thru it all with no motive other than they love you. Sometimes we are gifted by being born into these families, and sometimes it's the ones we make.
I pray things work out for you. Sounds like you have helped alot of people out of the kindness of your heart and I pray that it is returned upon you. God Bless you and your family

Mickey/CCHT 2011-11-06 23:15:54 -0600 Report

I am very blessed in this aspect. My family is small, and i have a small group of friends. But everyone i have in my life are all supportive and encouraging. My brothers don't sugar coat things for me, when I have the "woe is me"'s he is there to set me straight!
I'm also blessed to have added to my support network by finding this site. I'm totally addicted! It's has been a wonderful source for knowledge and support.
God Bless all of you here!!! Mickey

jayabee52 2011-11-06 19:43:51 -0600 Report

Unfortunately for most of my life I have been a loner. I do have friends but most of them are living far away. I did have opportunities with people who I felt would be a negative influence in my life, but I went my own way, and I am glad I did. I probably have more friends in the virtual world of DC than anywhere else. Folks here are supportive and sensitive, and I believe very good for me,

LabRat90 2011-12-19 09:28:46 -0600 Report

James, you are a beloved asset to this community. I'm often considered a loner also. As a matter of fact, I'm distressing over the fact that two of my four sisters will be visiting us for Christmas. There will be far too many people in my small house for only two days and I'm about to have a hissy fit. That will make me have five diabetics and nine non-diabetics. Almost a 50% mix. We have a good support system most of the time. But when we get together, there is always one nameless person that thinks she is the GOD of all things diabetic. How can I get through this weekend without stressing too much? The problem is that this person is not very knowledgeable but wants to teach everyone else. Aghh!

pixsidust 2011-11-07 12:48:10 -0600 Report

James you certainly are loved here. I can not imagine Diabetic Connect without you. Please live for a long time! I and others need you!

pixsidust 2011-11-07 12:44:08 -0600 Report

James You are loved here. I could not imagine Diabetic Connect without you. Please live for a very long time. I need you here!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2011-11-06 20:44:30 -0600 Report

Hi James,

I was thinking about you. Nice to hear from you.

Where friends are concerned, I would say quality over quantity. And you're right, there are lot of fantastic people here on Diabetic Connect!

I am sure glad you are here. I hope you are doing well!


jayabee52 2011-11-07 18:14:12 -0600 Report

I'm in pretty good shape for the shape I'm in! LoL!

My next project is to learn how to revitalize my kidney's nephrons. My filtering % has improved from 2 months ago till my most recent blood test in Oct, (GFR in Aug 14% in Oct 16%, and I wasn't doing anything special.)

Blessings to you and yours!

Old-n-Grey-n-Wiser 2011-11-06 19:13:19 -0600 Report

A very positive suggestion, a friend who can only criticize is a poor supporter and friend


kaiya2465 2011-11-06 19:39:11 -0600 Report

So very true. I often take a look at who I have in my life & sadly I have had to walk away from some very negative people. I am so far now surrounded by people that I can feel good about. We can Laugh, Cry, Joke..& we all have a nice time 75% of the time.
The reason I put 75% is because we all have our down times, but for now…Life Is Good!!!!!

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