Today is the 10th day of the 10th month and could be mentioned for a number of reasons, it is 1 month and 1 day until Remembrance Day, it is 2 months until my baby brother turns 21, it is 76 days until Christmas and 83 days until 2014. It marks 3 months and 1 week since I went on an insulin pump and 80 days until I have been T1 Diabetic for 16 years.
Today also marks the 10th year since my Father’s death.
So you’ll forgive me if I’m unable to focus on much else. There’s another thing that happened to me 10 years ago… I started suffering from Diabulimia. There often seems to be a social stigma around certain conditions and disorders; mental disorders especially. This seems to be lessening in some disorders with the array of famous people coming forward and admitting to being bipolar, for instance. There’s never much said about eating disorders though.
So, I’m going to talk about an eating disorder. I have never refused to eat when hungry, nor have I binged and purged, I don’t eat to excess and I have never intentionally dieted or avoided foods in a bid to lose weight. I have / do suffer from an eating disorder though. I did not start suffering because of body image (I’m not a stick, but that has never bothered me!). I went through this because one big, traumatic and life changing event made me feel that I had only one thing I could take control of in my life. My diabetes.
I can’t remember all the details of when it started, a lot of October 2003 is in a blur, but I know it started slowly. I would get up and go to school, as I took my lunchtime injection in front of the school nurse I had no choice but to take that one, but I would skip my morning injections or my evening ones and take one long acting dose to cover the day. I started buying biscuits and chocolate with my left-over lunch money, extra food, but no extra insulin.
The first time I was in hospital because of this was 26th October 2003. It was 5 days after my Fathers funeral. It was also my older brothers 18th birthday. It was the second time I had DKA and it hit me like a tonne of bricks, I felt awful, physically and mentally, my Mother spent her eldest childs birthday at the hospital with me. I was admitted and released from hospital on the 28th October 2003. This would be the start of years of unhealthy and destructive behaviour (for my diabetes anyway).
I won’t go into details about every date I was admitted to hospital, but knowing it was my fault everytime filled me with such horrible guilt. I could see what I was putting my Mother through, but I couldn’t stop myself. I just couldn’t make myself take my injections.
I think the problem was, I felt great doing it, it was something no one else could fix, only me, and that felt good. Every few months it went too far and I ended up in hospital with DKA, but the times I managed to stop DKA, I had such a rush because I had control. In hospital, it was always blamed on infection, I was just “susceptible” to them, no one ever questioned my lack of injections. I think if they had and someone had just spoken to me about it or provided some help, I just may have stopped this sooner.
It’s difficult trying to explain how destroying your body and being deceitful can feel good, it’s almost like someone had flicked a switch in my head that stopped me caring about myself, which meant that those that cared about me were shunted to one side whilst I was giving up.
Since doing DAFNE back in 2007, I haven’t had a self-inflicted trip to hospital. I have been taking just enough insulin to keep me feeling well, and blood testing approximately 0 times a day. I have been diagnosed with Maculopathy, had laser treatment and I may possibly need more. I am fully aware that I did this to myself and no good feeling can change that.
When I decided I wanted an insulin pump, I injected and blood-tested to prove that I could handle the responsibility, I started on the pump in July 2013 and life with diabetes has never felt better.
I look at the pictures of my Dad and me and always think… Would I have suffered with Diabulimia had he lived? Probably, I don’t think it would have gone on as long or as far as it had though. Going through this and doing what I have done is not worth it, long-term it is not worth it and never will be.
Would I do this again? Possibly, bad habits are hard to break and as easy as it is with a pump, I have to tell myself to blood test and bolus all the time, if I didn’t, I know I wouldn’t.
As much as I may have let my Dad down when it’s come to my attitude with my diabetes, I’d like to think that he’d be proud of the person coming through the other side. Whilst I’m not there yet, there is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s beautiful.