You just don’t get It, do you? When your chronic condition feels like a lonely road.

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2015-03-12 22:50:34 -0500
Started 2013-03-09 19:35:46 -0600

“He/she just doesn’t get what I’m dealing with.”

I hear this a lot from my clients, and members often express the same frustration here. Their partners seem not to care how much they are suffering. Their partners may have made it clear they don’t want to hear about how they are feeling: “stop complaining.” They may listen, at least temporarily, and then change the subject: “yeah, yeah, now what about…” Even worse, tell them it is “all in their head.” Or accuse them of faking how they feel to get attention: “stop being dramatic.” Their partners are impatient and unhelpful when what they need is their understanding.

I am often reminded of how lonely the road can be for those who are living with chronic conditions. And what it means to “get” what someone else is going through, to understand someone else’s suffering, to walk the road with them.

Some of my clients are fortunate enough to have partners who try to understand how they are thinking and feeling, who are able to listen, to offer comfort, and even to anticipate what they need. In a word, empathy.

The harsh reality is that others need some extra help. Or just don’t have what it takes. Or won’t try.

Sad and unfair as it is, people who are loving and caring in so many ways often seem to shut down when their loved needs to talk about their chronic condition, or when they need emotional support. While they may pick up the slack in household chores, or offer other assistance, the support may begin and end there. Or they may not be so helpful there, either.

What’s going on at your house?

Here’s an article in Living with Diabetes that might help you get the conversation going at your house.

Any experiences or ideas to share?

77 replies

calayx 2015-03-10 23:23:52 -0500 Report

I have zero support from family and friends.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2015-03-12 22:50:34 -0500 Report

Hi calayx, so sorry to hear this. All the more reason for you to stay in touch with your friends here. You are not alone. I hope you will keep us posted on how you're doing. Keep in touch!

Jibber Jabber
Jibber Jabber 2015-01-18 12:57:38 -0600 Report

I am very blessed to have a hubby that supports me 110% in everything..not just my diabetes management…but this is not my first time at the rodeo…I was married before for 20 years to my children's father…and he didn't support me in anything…so I know how it feels…I hope this site helps those who don't find the support they need at home…hugs to all that need..

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2015-01-27 10:04:15 -0600 Report

Hi Jibber Jabber! I am glad to hear you found your way to someone who is really there for you. That's great. And yes, so many people don't have much support at home. But Diabetic Connect is open 24 hours a day! Thanks for sharing this.

sweetslover 2015-01-18 12:36:59 -0600 Report

My husband is wonderful and supportive. If I don't feel like cooking or cleaning up, he jumps right in and does it for me. He understands when I say I just don't feel good, that I cannot explain what is wrong. I try really hard not to constantly barrage him with my symptoms or complaints. I let him know when I am having a really good day or have great BG readings. He needs to hear good news as well as me. He understands that my neuropathy and L-5 radiculopathy have curtailed some of the farm chores that used to be my responsibility, and he willingly jumps in and does them if I mention I need help with something. I thank God every day for his love and support.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2015-01-27 10:01:58 -0600 Report

Hey sweetslover! Wow, you husband sounds like a real gem! That's great to know. I hear so many stories about unsupportive spouses. It's always nice to hear from the other side. Thanks for checking in!

Jim1954 2015-01-14 12:52:07 -0600 Report

Sadly at my home my wife does not want to hear it. At least she makes me feel that way. I was told about 4 years ago I have type 2 and it was by chance I found out then. One year later, I was told i have fatty liver and then one year later I had a pace maker put in. It has been overwhelming, I feel like I'm falling apart. She is quick to change the topic to what could possibly be wrong with her. So I have quit saying anything about how I feel.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2015-01-15 21:13:54 -0600 Report

Hey Jim, nice to see you here! Really sorry your wife can't be more supportive. I think sometimes family members feel helpless and so they have an attitude like, don't think about it and don't talk about it and maybe it will go away. But we know diabetes doesn't work that way. It may take time for her to come around. I hope you have other supportive people in your life! Stay in touch with us!

TsalagiLenape 2015-01-14 00:39:53 -0600 Report

Well I don't have said partner living with me yet. I am living with my parents again. I am in transition. My mom is a retired nurse of 35 years. So talking to her is good for both of us. Hugs

Grandmama16 2014-07-27 16:02:57 -0500 Report

Venting is always good in a safe environment. My family Is good about it but, then again it's mostly my hubby who hears my comments. He also has a chronic condition, Parkinson's, but so far is doing well. We both tweak our meds to help with fatigue.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-08-02 23:02:27 -0500 Report

Glad your husband is such a good listener. I suspect you do that for each other. Thanks for checking in.

Miss_Teal 2013-04-17 08:16:27 -0500 Report

boy this is true. My husband can't wait to change the subject. I recently made friends with a co-worker that is in the same boat as me and we exchange ideas and vent vent vent

Miss_Teal 2013-04-18 07:25:11 -0500 Report

and… I have been looking for a local seminar to join to educated myself more. Some you have to pay for - well my local library has an hour one in May and I signed up for it - FREE a local doctor is running it.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-04-17 14:11:57 -0500 Report

Hello Miss_Teal, that is a great idea. Sharing ideas, encouragement... and some venting along the way. That's support! Gary

Lbjinmaine 2013-04-16 13:41:12 -0500 Report

My problem is not so much support at home, but my own obsession with weight gain. If I don't take my insulin, I keep my weight down. I know what it is doing to me, but I can't seem to help myself.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-04-16 18:30:36 -0500 Report

HI! I appreciate your honesty here. It sounds like you also know the risks of not staying compliant. I really encourage you to talk to your doctor about this, or a diabetic educator, about how you can take good care of yourself and manage your weight. Glad you are here! Gary

Mrs.Patsy 2013-04-16 21:07:31 -0500 Report

Thank you Dr.Gary I did see my I am putting on weigh and I have made up my mind to try and lose about 30 lbs.I have been falling a lot and I want to keep some fat on.

sNerTs1 2013-04-16 09:42:29 -0500 Report

At my house, its awesome. My husband is right there with me through thick and thin. He even tries to understand my mood swings and instead of thinking its "that time of the month" <~ sarcastically said … he asks how my sugars are and maybe I should check them. He watches me and he even shops with me, reading labels and all.

My diet is his diet so it all works out. While he DOES crave his apple pies here and there, he is good without deserts. He asked me once if it bothered me if he ate his pie and I was like … want cake too? I don't care what others eat around me, its what I eat that I care about. I'm lucky to say I don't get the "cravings" and it was very easy for me to give up sweets! Lucky or blessed either way, they are gone.

Thanks for the question. Ive learned how others live as well and with learning there is understanding. **HugZ** Cheryl

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-04-16 18:28:47 -0500 Report

Hi Cheryl,

Thanks a lot jumping in here and sharing what's going on at your house. You husband really sounds like a gem! I suspect he benefits from sharing your healthy, low carb diet, broken up by the occassional slice of apple pie. That's a lot of support.

Getting educated is the key to understanding.

Take care!


lorider70 2013-04-16 10:22:33 -0500 Report

I can honestly say that if it were not for my wife's ongoing support, I probably wouldn't be here today. she was my main motivation when first diagnosed in 1989 and remains so today along with my son and his family. Hasn't always been a smooth ride; but I'm still here.

Harlen 2013-04-16 09:11:13 -0500 Report

Hello all
As much as my wife loves me and helps me she's a RN and works with me,but without this sight I would feel so lost
I thank each and every one of you for being there for me.

Graylin Bee
Graylin Bee 2013-04-16 09:31:44 -0500 Report

You have helped me from the first day I joined. So, a huge THANK YOU. (Not yelling font but shouting outloudly font)

firsttim410 2013-04-13 10:49:58 -0500 Report

Sad for those without support. Glad to see some of the responses are positive in nature. My wife is absolutely incredible in support of me. We found out three years ago about my late life diabetic onset And together we begin the journey to a complete lifestyle change. She feels like we are absolutely in this together. An incredible southern cook Who refuses to cook and eat anything herself that doesn't meet my requirements. When God said we would be one flesh I'm grateful she took it literally!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-04-14 18:41:11 -0500 Report

Hi firsttime,

Wow, you have a really supportive wife. It's great that the two of you are working together as a team. And I would guess your diet is probably good for both of you. Thanks for checking in!


diabetic72 2013-04-10 10:42:33 -0500 Report

Type 1 diabetic for 41 years. Good control except for the past 5-10 years. Dealing with the disease has been very difficult. I almost feel like I am in denial now after all this time. I just don't want the diabetes anymore and I feel like. I am in a box. Anybody else feel this way?

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-04-16 16:58:09 -0500 Report

Hey diabetic72, thanks for checking in here. Sometimes those feelings of helplessness and hopelessness set it, and it all just feels too hard. I am glad you came her for support! Gary

Wanda4pooh 2013-04-15 11:40:35 -0500 Report

I completely understand. Been diabetic since 1990. I hate it. Would like to be done with it. I am totally embarrassed by it. Don't want to talk about it face to face with anyone.

lorider70 2013-04-10 13:09:42 -0500 Report

I am a type II since 1989. Taking the meds and watching diet and weight hasn't been a problem; but the complications, even though mine have not been totally debilitating so far; have put severe limits on me that I thought I would never experience. I hate the fact that I have had to resort to using a cane, cannot walk more than a block at a time, all from neuropathy. Realizing that my limitations are mild compared to what other people are enduring are what keeps me going and remind me that i am one of the "lucky" ones.

Lentyl 2013-03-31 09:35:34 -0500 Report

It must be very difficult to be living in a non-supportive or minimally supportive situation. I'm alone and have no family. I joined DC just to be grounded with those who have diabetes. There are no support groups in the town where I live so DC helps lots. Thank you all for being here and being so supportive to each other.

kangarue 2013-03-25 03:23:16 -0500 Report

Most courses through your local Extension Office are free. All you have to do is call them to see if they have the program and if not request that their FCSAgent get the program. The cost should be free but if for some reason they do charge it should be very low.

kangarue 2013-03-25 01:34:31 -0500 Report

Have you heard of a program called "Living with Diabetes " it is done through our local Extension Office here in Tennessee and when I "graduated" from it and told my Endrocrinoligist about it he was really impressed. You get a lot of support and good useful information. AND I didn't have to pay for it and the course would normally cost $2100! I highly recommend it.

jayabee52 2013-03-25 01:42:02 -0500 Report

Of course it sounds like a good program! How does one get it for free?

kangarue 2013-03-25 03:36:20 -0500 Report

Sorry about that. I didn't know there was a tab for me to click on to reply to you. I am new on here. My response is on the post. Your local Extension Office is supposed to offer these types of classes through their FCS program. This is community education and should be free but there could be a small charge at times. There is another class called "Dining with Diabetes ".I haven't taken it yet. This is extra info. Please read the post for the answer to your question.

kangarue 2013-03-25 11:17:58 -0500 Report

I am bouncing between a phone and a laptop now, the laptop is much eaiser to figure out! But the program is really good. There is another one also it is "Living with Chronic Conditions", it covers diabeties but it doesn't go into detail.

kangarue 2013-03-31 22:35:30 -0500 Report

Hi! What is the question? The programs are: "Living with Diabetes " and "Dining with Diabetes ". They are usually done through local Extension Offices. Through the Family Community Sciences Division. Ours is through the University of Tennessee.

snuggles11 2013-03-18 21:57:28 -0500 Report

Just Joyce
Well said !
I'm alone with no support group !
The support I get lasts until I can educate myself also !
Be strong !
I will also !

jayabee52 2013-03-25 01:44:55 -0500 Report

I pray that is what you are here to do, Tammy.

Educate yourself with the many resources available on DC while getting the all the support you can use from the folks here. We do care!


diabetic diva 1975
diabetic diva 1975 2013-03-18 21:28:15 -0500 Report

I feel that non diabetics just don't get that sometimes you don't feel good/ your tired / cranky / irritable and just plain bad company due to diabetes. I tried to get my son and husband to research diabetes so they can be more understanding but I'm still not sure they do :( which is one of the reasons behind my joining this site, for the support and understanding of fellow diabetics.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-18 22:44:29 -0500 Report

Hey diva!

I understand how those blood sugar ups and downs can result in emotional ups and downs. Being in the middle of down time can be a teachable moment, a time to let them know that you aren't at your best and why. You might have to repeat the message the next time another teachable moment comes around. It's a learning process.

I am glad you are here! You came to the right place.


Dorrie65 2013-03-15 21:46:18 -0500 Report

I hope that it is ok if I add a different view here. I am on the other end of this, being the one that is the supporter. My partner has type 2, she was diagnosed not long before I met her. Her BS are pretty much under control for the most part. I try to be supportive for her. But I have a hard time sometimes. I am getting better at telling when she is having a low, and what to get her when she is. The part that I have a hard time with is when something else is bothering her, she is starting to experience some neuropathy. I am at a loss as to how I can help and support her with this. I can only hope that I am supportive enough.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-18 22:41:24 -0500 Report

Hey Dorrie,

Thanks a lot for joining in the discussion. I appreciate your honesty here.

Learning to go with the flow with someone who is living a chronic condition like diabetes is a process, a learning curve in terms of understanding diabetes, understanding how diabetes affects your partner, and understanding how to work together as a team. And as your concerns about neuropathy illustrated, the rules keep changing.

It's hard to live with so much uncertainty. It can leave you feeling pretty helpless at times.

What I would encourage you to do is to continue to be a good listener, to ask your partner what you can do to support her, and to let her know how she can support you. After all, you are a team.

It's great to be in touch with you!


Chrise70 2013-03-13 15:50:21 -0500 Report

My husband is very supportive and he always wants to know what my sugar levels are and he goes to my Dr appointments with me and asks questions that he has about my condition.

MrsCDogg 2013-03-13 06:51:40 -0500 Report

Several members of my family are also diabetic. I guess that is fortunate when it comes to support and empathy. My husband is very supportive as well. I try not to complain too much to him. Any time we are out and about he will ask if I'm ok, or if I need a snack. He's seen me when I'm low and I think it is a little scary for him.
Co-workers have been my only problem so far. No one has actually said anything, but I know those looks. "Yea, she's just faking that to get more breaks"
I don't want anyone else to ever have diabetes, there is a tiny part of me that wishes they could know how it feels. Just for one day I'd like for them to have a "bad diabetes day". Wake up with a blood sugar of 42 and barely be able to get to the kitchen to find a snack. Then to have to deal with how crappy I feel when it's high.
But, that's just me.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-14 21:55:34 -0500 Report

Hi MrsCDogg,

Thanks for checking in, and for your honesty. I am happy to hear your husband is supportive and watching over you. He has seen what happens when you are out of balance. Seeing is understanding. I can understand why you would be frustrated with your co-workers. You're right, they don't get it.


Set apart
Set apart 2013-03-11 21:05:23 -0500 Report

Hi Dr. Gary, it's easy to say we all have support, but in my situation I believe that although everyone is supportive they may get tired of hearing the same thing over and over. I guess I can't blame them, as a T1 like Gwen, I am the only one, so everyone thinks I should be like the rest of my family members. Is it a lonely road, you bet, is my family there, you bet, but there's nothing like talking to others who live with the same thing you do. How can I explain how experiencing a bad low makes me feel, it's impossible, but here on DC I can do this! This is why I come here, so it's not such a lonely road, so I can express myself openly. Yeah we got to be tough and strong, but it's also okay to somedays just say, "Today I don't want to be alone and I don't want to do this.". After all human nature calls us to sometimes be weak, and I know for myself there are days when I am, just that, and it's OK!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-11 21:44:54 -0500 Report

Hey Set apart,

Always nice to be in touch with you. I really appreciate your empowered, insightful reply. You bring up a good point here. People who aren't walking in your shoes can only understand but so much. As you said so well, that's why DC is such an incredible place. You are surrounded by people who are walking this road along with you. Good days and not so good days, you are never alone.

Thanks a lot, my friend!


Graylin Bee
Graylin Bee 2013-03-11 19:40:26 -0500 Report

Funny think happened a few weeks ago with one of my support system.
My sister reminded me that if it's not one thing it's another and bad thing will happen. I had mentioned I was frustrated because the van's engine fan went out. At least we had managed to have a few dollars ahead, that it took all of. She said first her wter heater had needed replaced and now it was her fridge. I was a little puzzled as to why she thought I didn't think things could break or problems might happen. Gee whiz I am just celebrating my 3rd year of getting out of the hospital alive and with both my legs, learning I am a PWD, losing my job, my home, then having 3 surgeries later in the same year, …
We don't really discuss D much, maybe at Tuesday night at Mom's she'll comment about "Hey. probably not much here that's good for you." As I pick and chose what I can have, "I planned ahead and had a snack awhile before, since I knew what would most likely be served her at The Cake Lady's." iis my standard response.
In both these instances I remember how very helpful she was when my life was falling apart and try to not get irritated when she seems a little less understanding. Probably in a few weeks she will say she didn't mean to give me a lecture about things not always working out, after all she was having eye surgery a week later to repair a hole in her retina. I think most of her lecture was aimed at herself rather than at me.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-11 21:41:53 -0500 Report

Hi Graylin Bee,

Wow, it has been a long time, my friend. So happy to see you!

Thanks for sharing this with us. What I took away from your post is how we learn to accept each other, even the annoyances that pop up here and there, by focusing on the big picture. You and your sister know you love each other, and you haven't forgotten how she has been in your court when you needed her.

Thanks for reminding me how important it is to stay focused on the big picture, as well as to use some humor along the way. People are who they are, wonderful, and flawed at the same time.

Glad to be back in touch!


Gwen214 2013-03-11 12:54:51 -0500 Report

My family is very supported, considering most of them are T2. I'm the only T1, I don't know what happen… Well, we all ask each other, because we know how diabetes can just make us feel BLAH! We encourage each other without trying to make each other feel guilty. Except, my parents, but that's how they care. Which we are all use to. It's the thought that counts..we all understand each other.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-11 21:36:25 -0500 Report

Hey Gwen, thanks a lot for letting us know what's going on at your house. I like the way you describe how you support each other, knowing how to offer encouragement without turning on the guilt. Sounds like a pretty harmonious place. Gary

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-03-10 16:48:50 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary, I don't look at my condition as being a lonely road. If a person constantly complains about their condition people get to the point where they don't want to hear it. Complaining is easy simply because you are not doing anything about the complaints. It is also true that people will stop listening if all they do is either complain, constantly talk about the disease or try to make their illness a reason to get attention such as sympathy. The fact of the matter is people including spouses, partners, family and friends get tired of listening. The support team at times need a break from your illness. Not everything that happens is about you having a chronic disease. Even you need a break from it. People don't get it for several reasons. Either they choose not to get it or have absolutely no interest in the problem because it isn't their problem.

I am diabetic, my sister has had a slight heart attack and takes medication for it. Other than that, nothing has changed in our house. We still do the same things we were doing prior to our diagnosis. We do not complain about not being able to do something because of our medical problems and we don't sit and talk about it. When I was diagnosed, I started eating the foods she had to eat because of her heart problem. The only two differences are I can't have a lot of sugar and she can and the snacks we have are different (although I did eat one Peep because it will soon be Easter) The only thing my sister does is remind me to take snacks if we are going to be out most of the day.

For those who need extra help, they should seek it. However for the person who won't try to help themselves, help cannot be forced on them. Sometimes the person who won't help themselves are those seeking sympathy. That can get old over time and the sympathy leaves along with friends and family who at one time supported them. The problem is too many adults want to be coddled simply because they have a chronic disease. I believe that anyone who is willing can help themselves and their support team by making things better for everyone. Support is a two way street. Learn self motivation, educate yourself, talk to your medical team, and don't burden the support team with every problem you have. In return, the support team will not burn out and will be able to be more supportive because now you have given them the opportunity to do some of the things they would like to do. You have to listen when they need you to support them and not turn listening into something about you. This way you will keep your support system and not have to travel the road alone.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-11 21:33:29 -0500 Report

Hi Joyce, you bring up some interesting points here, and I understand what you are saying. I agree that support is a two-way street, and that caregivers need to also watch over their own self-care. What I especially worry about is people who just don't get any support at all, with family members that won't or can't try to understand what they are living with. Sounds like you and your sister have found a way to work together, to support each other, while also allowing each other some space. I really appreciate your response. Gary

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-03-12 20:57:13 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary I think when it comes to family, they also have to accept that a family member has an illness. They have to come to grips with it. Some never accept the illness. As long as they don't accept the illness they are not going to learn about it, talk about, listen to you talk about or be supportive in any way. There are people in families who simply don't care about other family members. If the spouse or parent is self centered, they aren't going to care because it isn't going to benefit them in anyway. Sadly, you can't make people care about your illness any more than you can make them be more understanding or supportive regardless if they are a spouse, a friend or your children. This is why I do not depend on people to be supportive of me. I choose to be self supporting and only seek support from my support team if I am facing something unfamiliar to me. That support last until I can educate myself.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-13 12:44:32 -0500 Report

Hi Joyce, I can't argue that. I always try to give people the benefit of a doubt and start with the assumption tha tthey want to be care but dont' know how to. But, sadly, I have seen many situaions in which family members don't step up to the plate for their loved ones, and don't seem to want to, don't seem to think they should be expected to. So it comes down to accepting reality and getting support where you can.

Dyiemond 2013-03-13 13:32:51 -0500 Report

this is the life I live. They will pick up house work but dont understand my pain. They think because i look well ,i feel ok. Not true at all. Ohh the pain i endure everyday and night. Never a good nights rest. I just joined this site today. Seems like a caring place to be.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-03-13 13:30:36 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary families, could it be how the person was raised? For instance if you were raised in a family where the parents didn't show affection towards each other or as children they were taught very early how to fend for themselves, they may not know how to be supportive of other family members or other people. On the other hand if the person needing the support has gone to the well to often or has cried wolf, the family may not be supportive.

Today a neighbor who is our Executive Director for our Community Association talked to a woman we have helped far too many times with various complaints. Today the complaint was her power was off. We asked if she applied for Energy Assistance the answer was no. We asked if she completed the paperwork we gave her at different times to apply for the service again the answer was no. We asked why. The response was because no one will help her do anything. She was told to not ask us for help again until she took steps to help herself. This woman does nothing after being given all kinds of resources to help herself and her family will no longer help her for this reason. She has gotten to the point that no one will help her or listen to her complaints. Sometimes if a person does not make an effort to help themselves they are often left to flounder alone. You can't keep complaining about things if you don't make an effort to first take care of yourself by using resources giving to you. There are also times when if you are not getting support from your family you seek that support elsewhere.

PuddinPrime 2013-03-11 13:20:15 -0500 Report

Just because people are constant complainers, need 'too much' sympathy, or any other annoying habit does not mean they are not lonely.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-03-12 20:42:03 -0500 Report

I agree with you Puddin. It isn't easy being alone, or feeling alone or feeling as though no one cares. I think people simply don't realize there are people willing to listen or be there for them if they just ask for help.

raccoon mana
raccoon mana 2013-03-10 15:07:27 -0500 Report

my fiancee is very supportive of my health isues. hes always a making sure i pace myself to avoid a fibromyaglia flare up. and helps me make better food choices. Rich also has encouraged me to get into a regular exercise regime.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2013-03-11 21:24:57 -0500 Report

Hi! You fiancee sounds like a gem. It's always good to hear about partners that are willing to step up to the plate and be supportive. Gary

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