Mood Swings

I have been married for 8yrs to a type 1 diabetic (he has had it since a teen). I wanted some advice from people with diabetes. My husband doesn’t like to talk about his type 1 and I find I am often at the end of some kind of raging anger inside him. He flares up and is raging ever now and then.

I’d like to understand how he feels but he never talks to me and shuts off. Then never mentions it afterwards. Is it a sign of low or high blood sugar? Is there anything I can do to help him? I did notice that he hadn’t eaten much today and it his anger outburst was just before dinner? Help me understand as I want to help without pressing him for information xx

First, welcome.

Second, it’s hard to guess what is going on without more details, so some thoughts, likely terrible, but I’m willing to try…

  • Sure, not eating makes moods worse. Here, I’m thinking of court judgments that get progressively worse up until lunch, and once fed, judges are nicer. On the flip side, low blood sugar leads to weakness and dizziness, so for me a disinclination to fight, although I have seen anger associated with high blood sugar.

  • My spouse used to repeatedly ask me if I had checked my blood sugar, part of her anxious disposition. My mother, after my father died, under a lot of pressure, repeatedly attacked me, and it went on for years, giving me an attitude of ‘leave me alone’. With my spouse, once I decided to just test when she asked, she behaved better, my A1c got better, and over time I was able to lessen her inappropriate requests, taking time to educate her about the correct and/or suggested timing.

  • I don’t know your relationship, so pardon if this is way off base, but depending on how you verbally approach your partner, it might set him off, if it put him in a position where he felt weak, triggering defensiveness. or in my case if he came from a family where he was often attacked. Attempts at sympathy or concern can easily backfire unless you know that he is fine otherwise.

  • Question, how is his control? That could be another reason, in that he doesn’t to discuss something that he is doing terrible with, but again, I have no idea of his health or your situation.

  • Is he open about being Type 1 or is it something he hides, is tight-lipped about? Asking about it could run counter to how he wants to present it to the rest of the world.

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I also get angry when I’m low. And often I don’t know it.
Most importantly I don’t remember it.
So your husband might not want to talk about it because he can’t see it as a problem.
A cgm might help him a lot. I very rarely go low anymore and when I do I can see it coming.

DO NOT start implying that his mood is a result of his blood sugar…whatever you do, don’t do that. It may or may not be true. But, it comes off like you are invalidating his emotions, which you don’t want to do. Diabetics have a lifetime of people doing this to us, and it makes a lot of people instinctually madder.

I would just lovingly hand him a treat - something he likes to eat, like halloween candy or some delicious cheese and cracker plate that has been lovingly prepared. Call it an appetizer. If his blood sugar is low, he will be hungry and he will prob eat it.

One idea - you could make him a mini screwdriver - full of orange juice, with just a tiny bit (like an airline bottle) of vodka in it. I had a boyfriend who used to do this to me in college. It worked like a charm. It should be in a small glass, so it doesn’t make his sugar high, like an old fashioned breakfast orange juice glass.

You want to magically levitate his blood sugar without him realizing that is what you are doing. It will save a lot of energy and heartache.

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As a couple, what is your relationship with food? Are you food lovers? I’m trying to think of more tricks…

Honestly, if I was often the target of my partner’s rage and they repeatedly refused to talk about it, they would no longer be my partner. Whether it’s due to his blood sugar or not, you should not be the target of your husband’s rage, and if it happens, there should be an apology from him and openness to discussion about how to prevent it from happening in the future. As is, it sounds potentially abusive or like it could develop in that direction. That’s highly concerning, and low blood sugars are not an excuse, regardless of whether they are a contributing factor. Some suggestions on thread are that you essentially tiptoe around the issue, but that risks enabling it, rather than addressing and solving it. Instead if it were me, I’d be insisting that he go to therapy for anger management and with me to couples therapy if at all possible. If not, he would need to figure out how to have those uncomfortable discussions or lose the relationship.


@Cardamom isn’t wrong, but this statement makes me think that she will have her work cut out for her if she is gonna try and resolve the relationship between this man and his illness. More practical solutions might be warranted…at least in the meantime. Developing someone’s relationship with their illness can take a long time.

Plus, don’t you think this will be tricky for her if she doesn’t have an illness herself that helps her relate? That might be a contributing factor here.

Yes, I suppose it depends on the level of rage and the impact on the OP as to their approach in handling the situation. I don’t want to normalize this though—this is not something that most diabetics do. Your husband sounds like he has an anger problem and may need professional help in working on it. It is not the reasonable duties of the spouse of a diabetic to endure rages directed at them.

Yeah, @Claire3, please feel free to ask us anything. We will do our best to help establish normal boundaries. It all gets pretty complex. Did you see Chris’s letter to diabetes today? It was a good one. A Letter to Diabetes

I think that one of the really tricky things here (to determine) is if he even knows that he is being such a meanie and making her feel bad? He might, but he might not. Its possible that his altered perception of the world around him makes his response seem reasonable. Its possible that he has no ill intent whatsoever.

She can’t ‘mother’ him. That won’t work. She’s walking a fine line. Its very, very tricky.

Why doesn’t he have a CGM, @Claire3? This would be valuable to you both.

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Rage is more than anger, it is uncontrolled emotion, it can be extreme and it can be physical.

What is the source of his anger, this must be known first, is it diabetes or is it something else and diabetes is a possible trigger. He has anger issues that must be dealt with, he needs counciling. You should not be his verbal punching bag or even worse his physical punching bag.


Sorry for the delay in coming back to you all. Thank you for your helpful comments. I like the Orange Juice and vodka - might try this myself.

When I first dated him, I didn’t even realise he was diabetic for ages as he hid it from me. During the 15yrs together, he has spoke to me a handful of times about it. I respect this and very rarely even ask about it. I never remind him of medication or testing as I don’t know what he he supposed to do. I’d like to understand more and have a million questions, but I don’t ask them as he doesn’t like to talk about it.

What I do know is he is not looking after his health at all at the moment. He drinks beer most nights, eats takeaways, crisps, snacks and drinks a lot of Diet Coke so can’t sleep at night. I think he can’t cope at the moment and work stress is making it worse. He is moody and gets angry more easily. The worst he has done is get in my face in an aggressive way (nose to nose) and say something in an aggressive way.

My understanding of Type 1 is from online only.

I’m trying to understand more as I’m sure his current lifestyle isn’t helping his mood.

Thank you for the CGM advice. I’ve had a look and don’t think he has one

That’s interesting, thank you. He never apologies after and then bounces back as if ‘what’s the problem?’ I’m certain he also doesn’t recall these episodes or they don’t register somehow. I used to get upset, but somehow I have learnt to not retaliate and not mention it after. I used to think how can he be like that and act normal later, but you telling me he might not remember it makes sense.

Anything can be the source of anger. I think it’s a combination work stress, not enough quiet time, eating habits etc. But it could just be something random like dropping something. After reading these comments, I actually think he has an anger problem which is made worse due to dealing with managing his diabetes.

He cooks for himself, he rarely eats with me and the children as he’s ‘not hungry then’
He is quite a good cook when he does cook, so food ideas would be good for him to try out.

As I am the person with diabetes, not the one who watches as I spiral out of control, I can’t really say what he is thinking or how you are reacting.
My wonderful husband married me knowing full well what life would and could be like. I had been doing diabetes on my own for over 10 years when we meet and just celebrated my 50th year. He has been through it all with me. And early on, the lows were super hard on him. This was before CGM and pumps. For the longest time, I thought I hated him when I would yell and scream at him during my lows. Finally when I was seeking help with my depression, my therapist suggested my husband come to a session. So we all talked for an hour and my husband finally got the answer he needed from a professional not me. She told him that anything happening during a low was just my brain not firing correctly because it was screaming for glucose to stay alive. No brain functions correctly without glucose. She told him that my rages during my lows were not because I hated him. And she asked if I behaved the same with our children and he stopped and thought and said yes. So he knew how much I (we) love our children so it had to be no glucose causing the mood swings.
Of course my CGM has helped stop those scary lows. They are almost completely gone now. And while I still don’t share a lot about my day to day care, he does have a pretty good understanding of diabetes.
A CGM is a great place to start. I did find getting my blood sugars into a better spot ( not great at first but better) I mentally felt better. Less swings in blood sugars. Up and down blood sugars are physically and mentally exhausting.
And maybe finding a mental specialist who has knowledge of diabetes or chronic conditions might help. I was very fortunate to have an organization in town who deals with diabetes and the mental side of it. Good luck and have a talk with him about what he needs from you and what you need from him.
And look into Behavioral Diabetes Institute. There are also some great talks at TCOYD on YouTube.

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