Diabulimia is a common eating disorder in diabetics who stop taking insulin or reduce their doses to lose weight. It mainly occurs with teenagers who were diagnosed early and are dissatisfied with their appearance.
A year after her death, the world had access to Lisa Day’s account, the young diabetic who died after a drastic weight loss strategy. In her diary, Lisa recorded in brief paragraphs days of agony and depression because of her condition. Until her writings were found, her anguish was not known to her family, who described her as a person who loved life, fun and many friends.
Lisa’s story, while tragic, is not an unusual one. Although diabulimia is not yet recognized as a medical condition, but rather as a spectrum of eating disorders, it silently affects many people who have to deal with diabetes on a daily basis.
One of these people, Luciana, decided to share her story with diabulimia, which fortunately had a different outcome than Lisa’s story.
Myth or truth: Does insulin make you fat?
Read Luciana’s statement below:
“Hi, I’m Luciana and as soon as I became diabetic, in 1988, my life changed.
Two months after being diagnosed, I began to overeat and to compensate for the overeating I took insulin to compensate.
I always did this secretly from people, because at that time diabetes treatment was limited to 2 doses of NPH per day. Regular insulin use was sporadic and done solely to correct blood glucose levels that were well above normal.
At that time there was no insulin lispro, aspart, glargine, etc., no carb counting and multiple dose insulin treatment.
It didn’t take me long to gain weight. With 1.53 I reached 69.9 kg. Six months after I was diagnosed with diabetes, I remembered how much
lost weight before discovering diabetes.
I decided, therefore, to temporarily abandon the doses of insulin to lose weight (without stopping eating). Then I would take them again.
Sweet, or rather bitter, deception.
I lost weight, but I couldn’t stop the bad eating behavior. I even tried. But a simple mistake in eating, a simple hypoglycemia that required the intake of sugary foods completely terrified me at the idea of gaining weight.
And, once again, he lowered or reduced the necessary doses of insulin. It was tempting to be able to eat as much as you wanted and always be skinny, but it was also scary. Countless times I cried at bedtime, afraid of the future, desperate for the consequences that would come if I didn’t change my behavior.
The biggest problem is that such behavior affected my whole life: studies, dates, friendships, projects. I had a hard time sticking with things, as what should have been the easiest task (taking care of myself) seemed impossible. Then imagine the others. I became a very angry, stressed, stubborn, depressed child with extremely low self-esteem.
In the days when he was able to take care of his diabetes, he would overeat and end up gaining weight. It didn’t take long for him to come off insulin doses (while still eating too much) to lose weight.
I searched for the most different doctors, but never, none of them spoke specifically about what was going on. They simply told me that I had to have a strong will and that if I continued doing what I was doing, I would regret it. After such a speech, they tried to treat me the same way they treated other patients. I’ve never heard of anyone acting like me, so I figured I was the only person in the universe who had been through what I’ve been through.
It took years of psychotherapy, but there was no improvement in what I needed most… taking care of my diabetes.
In 2000, that is, 12.5 years after the discovery of my diabetes, I had the great joy of participating in a group of young people with diabetes at ADJ-SP. My life from then on began to change. In that meeting I had the opportunity to meet a girl (F) who spoke openly about what was happening. I swear I thought she was talking. The same difficulties, the abandonment of insulin to lose weight and the deep sadness of doing so. I was transfixed, excited. I discovered that she was not the only person in the world. For the first time I spoke openly and without shame about the things I did. That was a great release.
As if that wasn’t enough, I ended up meeting a guy also with diabetes at that same camp who I dated and married. From the beginning he knew about my difficulties and he was, at the same time, firm, demanding and affectionate with me.
In the future I met (N), who also had the same problem. The openness about me, the daily help of a family member (husband), in addition to the work that I began to get involved in helping people with diabetes were essential for diabulimia to disappear.
Today I take care of my diabetes calmly, as usual, and I have never gained weight. My glycated hemoglobin levels in 2010 were all below 7 (before 2000, many were above 15). The marriage is over, but this has not affected my diabetes management and care in any way.
It was in 2009 that I learned that the problem I had was called diabulimia (by the way, I also learned that it was only recognized as an eating disorder in 2006). I decided to investigate and realized that the Joslin (the world’s largest diabetes research center)Please treat such a situation as a serious problem. Reading it, I cried for hours. I knew then that it was not just Me, F and N, but us and many other girls and women (from different parts of the world who suffer or have suffered from it) and how this problem needs special treatment.
With all due respect to the myriad psychotherapists, diabulimia isn’t just treated on a couch or in chair conversations (and I have a degree in psychology). Medical follow-up is essential, but not enough. An integrated mixture of medical treatment, family support (the family should be educated and taught to deal with people with diabulimia), coexistence and work in the area of diabetes, exchange of experiences and, if possible, coexistence with a person who has gone through the problem and got over it.
If you are a person with diabetes who is going through what I went through, you should know that the sooner you seek help, the sooner you can get out of this problem (and preferably before complications arise). So I leave you my email so you can contact me, if you want [email protected]
A big hug and good luck.”
Understand its treatment It is essential that you obtain a good glycemic control and therefore a better quality of life. Knowing how to make good decisions is even more fundamental,
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