Diabulimia: When Diabetes and Eating Disorders Collide
Mar 12, 2013 11:42
Imagine being able to eat anything your heart desires without putting on any weight? While this may seem like some sort of dream diet, it's actually a dangerous eating disorder associated with those suffering from diabetes.
One ED sufferer's story was recently highlighted over at ABC News. At 11, Erin Williams was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. By 14, she had decided to stop taking her insulin which caused her body to "burn through fat and muscle." But instead of raising concerns, her sudden weight loss caused her to experience positive reinforcement from her peers which made her continue to restrict her insulin doses:
"You hear all these things and you're like, 'This is the greatest thing in the world,'" said Williams. "It takes a hold of your life like nothing else."
Diabulimia can be terrifyingly easy to hide. Apparently, 30% of type 1 diabetic women "will intentionally stop taking
insulin at some point in their lives to lose weight." Williams could eat as much
as she wanted and still lose weight. Other symptoms like fatigue and
irritability were deemed as part of being a teenager.
After 10 years of suffering in silence, the problems of her eating disorder finally escalated, causing health problems like high blood sugar and extreme sleepiness/fatigue. At one point, Williams was walking around for months with a shattered ankle but didn't even know it because her nerves were so badly damaged. The 24-year-old was eventually diagnosed with osteoporosis, and forced to wear a cast for two years in order to let her ankle heal.
Williams' story is a prime example on how society
considers thinness as being the best possible way for a body to be,
regardless of whether or not it's healthy. She has since recovered and launched a site to help others by sharing her own story, with hopes that it can prevent other young girls not to give in to the pressure of having to be thin in order to feel like they belong.