Eating Disorders are known to be extremely dangerous, they can cause heart attacks, organ damage, brain damage, infertility, and death. Luckily, for those with Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating, there are clinics and charities that can help. But for those suffering from Diabulimia – it’s a different story.

Diabulimia is a merge of Diabetes and Bulimia, and it has been noted to be the most dangerous eating disorder. It is a situation where someone with Type 1 Diabetes intentionally omits, or reduces, their insulin in order to lose weight.

If you’ve ever known someone who is insulin dependent, you’ll know that missing a dose, or using too little, is a life or death situation; because no matter your size, you can still have Diabetes complications by missing or using too little insulin. Like all eating disorders, this is not attention seeking or rebellion. This is simply someone who is suffering from a mental health condition, where they have a nag in their head suggesting they are fat or too big.  Unfortunately, due to the ignorance toward the disorder, it is often pushed away by Psychiatric centres due to the complexity. It has also been reported that some sufferers have also been told

Don’t be stupid 

by healthcare professionals who see omitting and reducing insulin as a

childish game. 

It’s a situation that is happening a lot. Although help can be found – it is difficult due to there being limited resources in this area of eating disorders.

 

By omitting insulin, glucose levels continue to rise. This causes Hyperglycaemia, leading to polyuria (which is when you go to the toilet a lot). Polyuria then causes the calories eaten to be passed straight through and out of the body through urine. The result of this is that the calories cannot be used and the body begins to starve. Like any other eating disorder, if left untreated, the body will then start breaking down muscle mass and organs in order to make more energy, which can be fatal.

And the scary thing is research has found that 40% of all women with Type 1, between the ages of 15 and 30, will give themselves less insulin or omit in order to lose weight.

Some of the main consequences of Diabulimia are:

  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of body mass
  • Nerve damage
  • Loss of sight
  • Kidney failure
  • Chronic pain
  • Heart failure
  • Loss of limbs
  • Organ damage
  • Brain damage
  • Death

It’s terrifying how many people go through this, and how little support is out there, let alone how little it is known to the public. Some people still believe Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating don’t exist. If the common ones that are also on the rise, and have been known about for centuries, are still not believed by a large amount of the population – then how are people with Diabulimia going to feel?

Many sufferers have commented that they avoid treatment due to negative reactions – and due to avoiding treatment, it has claimed many lives.

 

There’s a reason I’m writing this article. Having suffered from Bulimia, a friend of mine – with Type 1 Diabetes – asked me to talk about it. He struggled with Diabulimia but had to fight in order to get treatment – in a country where treatment is free for everyone, he had to fight for it.

Diabulimia, along with any eating disorder, is frowned upon and that has to change. The stigma that it is easy to stop and that it is for attention is what is driving more people to avoid treatment and risk their lives.

Eating Disorders are a mental health condition – they cause a lot of pain and heartache; they’re similar to an addiction – whether you’re starving or overeating; a sufferer of Diabulimia, or any eating disorder, deserves treatment and care – just like any other person in the UK.

If you know someone struggling with Diabulimia, or you are struggling yourself, please be aware that there is a helpline with trained counsellors who will listen and help.  The helpline is run by Diabetes UK.

Call 0345 123 2399

(Warning: Calls to 0345 numbers can cost, usually between 2p to 10p per minute from a landline, and between 10p and 40p per minute from mobiles.)

For talk support, online – you can join DWED –  Diabetics with Eating Disorders – which was set up for Diabulimia sufferers.

 

If you’re struggling with Anorexia, Bulimia, or Binge Eating, you can speak to B-eat – a charity dedicated to Beating Eating Disorders. Their Helplines are open from 3pm to 10pm every day of the year.

Adult Helpline: 0808 801 0677

Youthline: 0808 801 0711

 

Because this article is about ending stigma and giving support, here are some donation links to charities that help people specifically with Diabulimia. They run on their donations, so make sure to keep giving!

 

Click HERE to donate to Diabetics with Eating Disorders.

or

Click HERE to donate to Diabetes UK.

 

Facts, Figures, and Stories:

  1. Diabulimia: The World’s Most Dangerous Eating Disorder

2. Diabetes UK – click HERE to visit their website.

3. B-Eat – click HERE to visit their website.