Meet Erin Williams.
Erin was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 11 years old.
Type 1 diabetes means that the pancreas stops making insulin, which means that the body’s cells cannot turn glucose into energy. In order to stay alive, those with type 1 diabetes must have up to four insulin injections daily.
They must also test their blood glucose levels several times during the day. This type of diabetes can occur at any age and cannot be prevented.
By the Erin she was 14, she was tired of the endless insulin shots and the strict diets she was forced to stick to. She was tired of saying no to cake and soft drinks at birthday parties. She was tired of being different to her classmates.
And so one day, she simply decided to stop taking her insulin.
When she woke up the next morning, she felt fine. Nothing drastic happened to her health overnight. Encouraged by this result, Erin continued to restrict her insulin intake and ate pretty much whatever she wanted.
Without the required amount of insulin to process glucose, Erin’s body began to burn through fat and muscle.
She lost weight.
A lot of weight.
And her classmates and family friends began commenting on her weight loss; telling her that she looked fantastic. Encouraged by the comments, Erin continued to skip the daily doses of insulin that were prescribed to keep her alive.
With her blood sugar levels running so high, Erin became fatigued and often fell asleep in class. She also became constantly dehydrated, due to her body trying to flush sugar through her urine. By the time Erin hit the age of 24, she had osteoporosis (a disease of the bones which makes them more fragile than normal).
She walked around on a shattered and infected ankle for two months before she even realised something was wrong – she hadn’t felt anything due to nerve damage.
Erin had developed an eating disorder, which barely anyone is familiar with: It’s called diabulimia. And it’s what happens when you combine Type 1 diabetes and the practise of withholding insulin to lose weight.