I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of nine. As I learnt to adjust to daily insulin injections, life resumed the way it always had.
However, as my representative sport level increased and academic pressures mounted, I developed an overwhelming sense of inadequacy and developed an eating disorder.
For the next six years I flew under the radar, flirting with recovery while dually pushing the boundaries on food restriction and excessive exercise. My HbA1c was impeccable, I had straight A grades, and went on to represent Otago in netball. I was smart enough to manipulate my food intake to lower my insulin requirement, while maintaining good blood sugars. I never purposefully missed a single dose of insulin, but did everything in my power to lower the amount I needed.
With my eating disorder, I never purposefully restricted my insulin intake but with my reduced calorie intake and excessive exercise, less insulin was required. My diabetes management was of the highest priority and I gave myself the appropriate amount of insulin to manage my diabetes accordingly throughout the duration of my eating disorder. Any hypoglycaemic episode was treated appropriately so my diabetes was always well looked after and almost in a way was a protective factor for my eating disorder.
However in 2013, I found a reason to pursue recovery. I found a barbell. I came to understand that if I wanted to perform, to lift more weight, to be better, I had to fuel my body to allow it to do so. I realised my body was going to give me what I gave it. If I wasn’t going to respect my health, my body would surrender and shut down. I am now enjoying living in full recovery, work as a doctor, and am a volunteer for Diabetes and Eating Disorders Awareness (DEDA).
Life with type 1 diabetes means your schedule can be very regimented. It is a disease which demands a lot and gives little in return. However, treat it well and it will place no limitation on what you want from life.
Lisa and Zoe shared their stories in the Autumn issue of Diabetes Wellness magazine.
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*All the information on the DEDA website is academically referenced and verified by experts in the field to ensure information is accurate. It includes a checklist of symptoms common in people with diabetes and an eating disorder, suggestions for concerned loved ones, and lots of tips and stories for people who are living with diabetes and an eating disorder.
**This article is linked to the Blog 'Does my child have an eating disorder', which you can read here.