What is diabulimia? | Diabetes UK

What is diabulimia? | Diabetes UK

August 7, 2019 1 By Jose Scott


It’s an invisible condition and yet
it’s quite a destructive one if you don’t look after yourself. There are
three key features, the first one is that you have to have Type 1 diabetes so you
can’t have it if you haven’t got diabetes, don’t really see it in Type 2.
The second is that you omit insulin at varying degrees. You might omit only a
few units of insulin or you might omit a whole dose or you might omit it many
times you know so that’s the second key feature and the third feature is that
the reason why you omit insulin is that you have a fear that the insulin will
cause weight gain. Why do you use the word fear? Because that’s what it is they’re
frightened they find out insulin I will put on weight gain because they will have
experienced that. Just how dangerous is diabulimia? Well it’s really dangerous I
don’t feel like I need to tell any anybody with diabetes this or any
diabetes clinician this but if you persistently omit the insulin that you
should be taking you’re going to have constant high blood sugars and they will
be whether you can see or not be damaging parts of your body inside at
the end of the day you will die earlier I mean that’s the sad bottom line and
you know your family will lose you you will never find out what you could have
done with your life so it’s pretty serious.
it might be difficult to even conceive of a reason why someone would do that
like a motive. Because it’s so obviously wrong? Right yeah right but people smoke and they know it’s wrong, people
drink too much that’s wrong people eating too much so we all engage in
self-destructive behaviors it’s a sort of a human part of us some people part
of our human trait unless you’re getting a signal to tell you that it’s big
enough to make you change your behaviors if you’ve got nobody telling you I’m not
I think you’re not looking after yourself so you’re not getting an
external signal that I’m really worried about you in a way that is supportive
and you’re not getting an internal signal ie pain then it’s very difficult
to find that signal inside self that you must look after yourself
now so these people with diabulimia they’re not getting enough of a signal
yet they’re not in pain they’re waiting until they’re getting their first
complication or I’ll sort myself out in a few weeks or they’ve got this idea of
what’s called optimistic bias which is they think it’s not going to happen to
them but they’re the ones they understand that people get complications
but it’s not going to happen to them the reason why it appears to be more
coming younger people is that it’s during the adolescent phase when you’re
becoming more and more independent we’re looking after your diabetes and by the
time you hitting 14-15 years you are going through the adolescent
phase of your life which is where you are trying to work out what, who are you,
you know what is my personality like, what is it I like, what is it
don’t like, what do people think of me you know that’s a really important part
of adolescence is how you think other people perceive you do they think I’m a
nice person, not a nice person, do they think I’m fat or thin, I’m a likable, lovable, you
know all of these questions you’re raging inside you and then on top of
that condition that you suddenly think oh my goodness I’ve got this condition
that’s with me I really don’t like it it seems to be getting in the way of my
life can’t go out with my friends drinking without me having to worry
about my diabetes can’t fall in love with that boy or girl what will they
think about my diabetes will they like me with my diabetes what will they think
about me injecting if you can drop diabetes you would and one way of doing
is by not injecting insulin and in that process
of not injecting insulin you may discover or learn that you’ve lost a lot
of weight you’ve now got a tool you have you will find a tool that says well
actually I can lose that way you and I might think that’s really irrational
pull yourself together you need insulin to live but from a person’s point of
view that anxiety response can be quite disabling and distressing when you have
that fear of weight gain in that mixture of thoughts and feelings is also the loathing
that you have that you’ve got diabetes why me, a
burden that you feel so that’s all gets activated so you can see how it could
happen it’s like a toxic mix isn’t it until we get our head around how
important a good healthy mind is to the relationship that you have with your
diabetes you can give a person as much medicine as you want and as much
technology as you want until they are happy comfortable about having diabetes
from a psychological point of view you’re not going to make much inroads
that’s my perspective you