This is an uncomfortable subject for me. It’s an embarrassing subject for me. I’m not sharing my story for attention. I’m sharing my story because there were so many signs I had and no one knew about what I was doing, not even my husband or my mother or my best friend. They didn’t know there was a name for what I was doing. All they knew was I wasn’t taking care of myself. They didn’t know I was ultimately making myself sick to lose weight. They thought I was just in denial and probably thought I had just had enough with diabetes. I know I lead them to believe this. I was ashamed. No one knew. No one. This is why i feel it’s that much more important for me to discuss openly. This is something that has directly affected my life and well being. It’s why I have some of the diabetes complications I have now. It’s something I’ve struggled with for years following my 1998 Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. It didn’t get bad until the end of my senior year in high school. The “it” I’m referring to is an eating disorder called Diabulimia. I struggled with this debilitating action for years without even knowing what I was doing had a name.
Diabulimia: occurs when a person with type 1 diabetes intentionally manipulates their insulin doses or completely omits the insulin all together for the sole purpose of losing weight and/or keeping weight off.
What happens is this:
When a person skips taking the insulin injection, it puts the body in a starvation state, resulting in a break down of muscle tissue and fat, eventually turning into ketoacids, rendering your body full of toxic acids. While all this is occurring, the body is unable to process sugars that have been consumed or that have been excreted by the liver. Just FYI, a diabetic can eat nothing all day and still have elevated sugars because of the liver secreting glucose.
So, what happens to the sugars in the body? Well, they’re excreted in the urine rather than being used by the body for energy or being stored as fat. All this happening is what can eventually lead to a life-threatening illness called Diabetic Ketoacidosis.
I was put in the hospital a couple years ago due to falling victim to diabetic ketoacidosis (some of you may remember). See, here’s the thing; I knew what I was doing was bad for long-term diabetes related complications. What I didn’t realize, due to my lack of knowledge and ignorance was it could take my life at any moment and that I could drop dead right then and there. No clue. I mean, I was doing this for years and was never put in the hospital for it. This is why I’m sharing my story. I had never even heard of diabulimia and diabetic ketoacidosis. Never. That’s unacceptable. If you’re a parent or a friend of a type 1 diabetic, it’s truly important to know the signs. So, what are some of the signs? Here are just some of the ones I had:
Nausea and Stomach Cramps (I was throwing up a lot from the nausea).
Drinking an abnormal amount of fluids
Severe Fluctuations in weight/ Severe weight loss/Rapid weight Gain/Anorexic BMI
Early onset of Diabetic Complications particularly neuropathy, retinopathy, gastroperisis & nephropathy
Anxiety/ distress over being weighed at appointments
Lack of BS testing /Reluctance to test
Over/ under - treating Hypoglycaemic episodes
A fundamental belief that insulin makes you fat
Assigning moral qualities to food (i.e. good for sugars/ bad for sugars)
An encyclopaedic knowledge of the carbohydrate content of foods
Avoidance of Diabetes Related Health Appointments
Loss of appetite/ Eating More and Losing Weight
Recurrent episodes of Hypoglycaemia
Frequent trips to the restroom to either urinate or throw up from nausea
So many years I felt so alone in my fight against this disease. Like I was the only one in the world. I can’t express enough how grateful I am for the DOC (diabetes on-line community). Sites like tudiabetes, sixuntilme, etc…the list goes on. I love having the support of my family and friends, but, sometimes you just want to speak to someone who truly understands. Who’s going through what you’re going through. Diabulimia continues to be a struggle for me as far as the thoughts go, but, every single day I conquer it.