Though not recognized an official medical term, “diabulimia” is a phrase coined by those who have suffered through a new type of eating disorder.
Diabulimia refers to when those diagnosed with type one diabetes intentionally forego their insulin injections as a means to lose weight.
For those with diabetes, there are various ways one can control their glucose level through the use of insulin. If a type-one diabetic doesn’t take their insulin, it could result in high blood sugar, which leads to fatigue, blurred vision, being very thirsty, and frequent trips to the washroom. More dangerous problems caused can be retinopathy, muscle problems, and hair loss.
The call to officially recognize diabulimia as a medical condition has been surfacing since 2013. BBC published an article in January 2013, which focused on the condition as well as a testimony from Tayler Hackett who told the news outlet of her obsession with being thin and thereby skipping her injections.
“Basically even though I knew not taking my insulin could lead to blindness (it’s one of the biggest risks), I didn’t care because I was consumed with it and I wanted to be thin,” she told them. She did suffer from health complications such as almost losing sight in one of her eyes. BBC reported that she was 18 months clean at the time of her interview and wants the condition to be recognized.
Not every person who suffers from diabulimia recognizes the dangers in time. Just last year, The Telegraph published an article detailing the life of Lisa Day, a young woman dealing with diabulimia. Her sister, Katie Edwards, said that Day had become obsessed with her weight and what she ate.
“She would eat the bare minimum, and as she got older, she realized if she didn’t take her insulin, she could lose weight that way. She knew different techniques to do it and would drop several dress sizes in a matter of days,” Edwards said.
The Telegraph reported that avoiding her insulin caused Day to suffer from kidney damage, bilateral cataracts, and severe eye disease. In September 2015, Day passed away at the age of 27.
In her interview, Edwards added that she and her mother were clearing through Day’s things and found notebooks full of diet plans. They believed she had diabulimia and if she had gotten proper care, she may have been saved.
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