An Unhealthy Obsession: Sarah's Fight Against Diabulimia
This two-part article was written exclusively for EatingDisordersOnline.com by Sarah Freitag, a member of SupportGroups.com. In this article, Sarah explains why she developed bulimia and how her struggle became even more difficult after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
What started as a quick fix turned into an unhealthy obsession. At the age of 10 I began to hate my body and thought that if I just skipped a few meals here or there everything would be fine. I thought it was a healthy approach, and the pounds that I needed to lose fell right off.
Two years after, at the age of 12, I began running cross-country for my school. It was a magical time for me because I fell in love with running, which would play a major role in my future.
Staying Active, Restricting Food and Developing an Appetite
I started doing long jogs every morning, but I was also still restricting food, more so out of habit than anything else. Doing both cheerleading and sports throughout junior high kept me fit, but I was starting to slip into depression. I was trying to cope with the death of two dear friends, my ADD diagnosis and just the fact that I was a teenage girl. Nobody really questioned my dark moods. I was shutting myself out from the world and nobody cared to noticed that I was not eating at all.
During the summer before my freshman year of high school, all I could think of was trying to look as good as possible. I spent hours each day running without even realizing how “scrawny” I had become. Right as school started, I began developing a ravenous appetite. I was so confused and a bit scared. I had restricted food for so long and suddenly all I wanted to do was eat. The strange thing was that I wasn’t gaining weight. In fact, the more I ate, the skinnier I got. I was convinced that I had stumbled upon some sort of superpower.
Diabetes, Depression and a Severe Head Injury
I continued running cross-country for my new school, so nothing really changed with my physical activity, but I was suddenly tired all the time. I couldn’t stay awake no matter how long I slept the night before. My dad, who is a physician, realized that I was showing classic symptoms of type 1 diabetes. I was stunned, and my depression worsened. However, my depression went untreated because it was thought of as a “normal” reaction to my diabetes diagnosis. I started gaining a few pounds, but my family convinced me it was healthy. I was still a size zero, so I really did not want to care.
For the next year and a half, everything seemed fine. Even though I hated my body, I continued to run and worked hard at keeping a healthy diet. When I was 16, I suffered from a severe blow to the head, resulting in a major skull fracture and bleeding in the brain. I was lucky to survive, but I still suffer from PTSD to this day due to the accident. Because of my injury, I was no longer able to run, and it was hard for me to handle it. However, I was finally put on anti-depressants, which helped me so much to get through it all.
The Beginning of Diabulimia
During the summer before my senior year of high school, I had broken up with the person I am still convinced is the love of my life, and I turned to food for comfort to fill the loneliness I felt. I also started to run constantly to melt that food off and to help fight my depression, which seemed to be getting worse every day. One day, I remembered how thin I was back before I started taking insulin and thought I had found another “quick fix.” I slowly weaned off my injections so that I could still comfort-eat without packing on the pounds. Soon I learned that this wasn’t something that only I knew about and that it was actually an eating disorder called diabulimia.
In Part II of this article, Sarah discusses the toll her bulimia and diabetes took on her body, her multiple trips to the hospital and what she has learned from this experience.