ONE LIFE - TWO JOURNEYS (with DIABULIMIA)
Updated: Mar 10, 2020
Flickering, bright light. I slowly open my eyes - it hurts. The room is far too sterile and bright.
Where am I ?!
Bit by bit, I can keep my eyes open longer under exertion. What is hurting on my chest? I register that someone is standing by me. This pain, my body, it just hurts like hell, every fiber. What ́s going on here. I feel panic.
The memories come back. The breakdown, the feeling in the morning, the vomiting, the drive and then nothing! My father carried me into the car because I could not go anymore - until this part I know, but then only a high, harsh tone with the appropriate light, followed by a lot of emptiness.
I look desperately at my mother.
She squeezes my hand, almost clasping it.
"We almost lost you! You were 3 minutes away."
I understand what she says, understand every word and I suddenly realize that my successful journey here came to an abrupt end. I was dead for 3 minutes. It all started, actually always. For as long as I can remember I was the fat one who ate too much. The lute that was a bit too wild, but above all, not the most popular in school. I was a nerd like you know from high
school movies. At the age of 11 I had diagnosed with diabetes, which only made the whole thing even more difficult. Now I was even less involved and only watched from the outside because I wasn ́t allowed to do so many things. I was marginalized without my power to do anything about it.
And all the weight I lost before the diagnosis gets back to my bones twice as quickly. My weight was the most present topic in my head, my thoughts were constantly circling around the looks of others compared to mine. However, I did not keep dieting for long, the food gave me a kind of security and love, I could not stop myself from getting binge eating, it was an important constant for me. So I gain more and more wight and the diabetes grew up to eat secretly for additional agony and motivation.
At 14 I started to refuse everything, my surroundings, school and everything related to this disease; Keep a diary, weigh the food and also inject the insulin. Simply because I wanted to show everyone how strong I am. That I am so independent of everything and everyone and that is precisely why I can no longer be kept small. The omission of the insulin had slowly crept in, first I skipped the bolus for meals, then the basal rate in the evening or in the morning, sometimes both, I was still using pens at the time.
It did not make me feel better, my body quickly shows me that it cannot be good, I was constantly sick and I was without drive. But something else happened, and that caught my attention much more, my pants and shirts started to shimmer. I lost fullness on my face and I remembered how beautifully I had lost weight in the summer before my diagnosis. I added up one and one and understood that it was due to the lack of insulin. But the way it went up to that point made no sense, there was no system behind it, no control.
I didn ́t want anyone to control me, not even my diabetes. I would take control, that was certain for me. So I started to feel my way, how much insulin was needed per day to keep the nausea as far as possible and still lose weight? What could I eat well without making me feel sick? I adjusted the set screws every day, noted everything down to the smallest detail and was sure to get everything right after the first comments about my “better figure” at the latest. Every compliment, every new piece of clothing only motivated me to continue and to overlook my gastrointestinal problems, weaknesses and misfires. I just wanted to be thin, because I felt that my new and more beautiful figure was synonymous with reputation and recognition. I was finally allowed to be part of a clique and I had created it all myself. I definitely didn ́t want it to end.
But my trip ended after a year and a half, in a life-threatening situation in a hospital shock room. When I was told in the hospital what was happening to me in the shock room and the nurse told me that she did not think I could do it alive, my trip also got a name called Diabulimia*. I had never heard of it and actually I didnt care, I just wanted to know how to keep my weight. At that time I was aware that I could not leave out any insulin in the hospital, because I was in the intensive care unit, among other things, connected to an insulin diffuser. In my eyes, the most dangerous elixir was pumped into my veins. So I avoided eating it until it came over me, or the sisters no longer believed that I was suffering from abdominal pain or nausea. Then when I ate something, vomiting immediately followed because I felt a bad conscience.
It didn ́t take long for doctors and nurses to find out and after several requests to eat, I was force- fed through a tube. Because in addition to the effects of diabetes on my body, I was in
danger of life at 42 kg with a height of 1.77 and also due to my physical circumstances. After 4 months I was allowed to leave the hospital and then nothing was the same as before. I was resuscitated and brought back to life, but inside I was dead. I had doubled my weight and felt like I had lost everything I ever had. For me, my life had absolutely none sense anymore. I had to go back to school again, again as one who does not belong, every day was a pain for me. I just wanted to be thin again and would have done everything for it, I would also have accepted the insulin purging again, but at home I was now stepped on and kicked. I had no option, I was stripped of all control, so there was nothing left but to cry myself to sleep night after night and to hope that it would simply stop.
When I was discharged, the hospital urgently recommended therapy for me and recommended some therapists to my parents. And so I sat four weeks after I was discharged from the hospital, with my parents in the car on the way to a therapist who was supposed to help me. And with the first appointment with the therapist, I set the first step on the path of my new journey, which, however, should take significantly longer than the supposedly successful one before.
My journey of recovery and stabilization. I am 32 years old today and would call myself very stable, which I owe not only to myself and my hard work, but above all to different therapists and different therapies. It was a trip full of rainy days and thunderstorms but also full of sun and great places. I often fell and I have deep scars on my soul. But these remind me that I did it. Even today there are days when I look at myself in the mirror and I dont like what I see, days when food disgusts me. But I admit it, give this feelings and thoughts space because all these also part of me, my story, my travels. However, Im in control, in a good way. I always try to take full advantage of every moment and enjoy great food.
I know Im not alone with my story. Diabetics are twice as likely to experience eating
disorders as non-diabetics. We are used to be disciplined and to keep an eye on our food, to control ourselves in every situation. We are under constant pressure and control. And when you are reading this and you feel addressed, I want you to know. Its OK! You are okay.
You will make your trip when you are ready. And you will survive. Because we are survivors.
Jasmin Thiel has been type 1 diabetic for over 20 years and has found peace and motivation in both after years of fighting diabetes and her body. She loves writing texts and prose on psychological topics, that was also the cornerstone of her psychology studies. She shares her thoughts as a coach and as a affected on Instagram.
* Diabulimia is a combination of the words diabetes & bulemia (addiction to eating).
With this eating disorder, those affected are afraid of gaining weight by regularly taking insulin. They therefore miss the necessary insulin injections or inject too little of the blood sugar lowering. This deliberate omission of insulin is also known as insulin purging.