Marie Claire Australia - 01.05.2018

(Ben Green) #1 41

integrated approach with experts in
both eating disorders and diabetes
working together, which doesn’t exist
here. We could do so much better.”


ike many in the same situa-
tion, Georgie’s life became a
seesaw of weight loss, followed
by serious health episodes. In
the UK, without a GP regularly check-
ing up on her, her condition was easy to
hide, until a routine blood test exposed
her deception. “A doctor read me the
riot act,” Georgie remembers. “He said
my blood sugar levels were so high I
could lose limbs, have nerve damage
and even go blind. I completely broke
down as I’d never really thought of
the consequences.”
But although the prospects were
grim, it made little diference to Geor-
gie. “In one year I’d damaged my eyes to
the same level of someone who’d had
diabetes for 15 or 20 years. Although I
was upset, I couldn’t stop. I found it
hard to take full doses. The voice in my
head told me to keep [restricting] as
I was too fat, even though everyone else
was telling me I looked great.”
Spiralling out of control, Georgie
ended up in hospital a year later, close
to a potentially fatal diabetic coma. “I’d
moved back to Australia and got my
first teaching job,” Georgie remembers.
“For years I’d been manipulating my
insulin so my weight was stable or I was
losing, but suddenly I was in a job where
I needed to be on the top of my game. I
had to take full doses of insulin to keep
going and within a week the weight had
piled on. I panicked and stopped taking
any insulin for three full days.”
Georgie knew she was in trouble
and admitted herself to hospital that
week, but even then the medical system
didn’t seem to see the danger she was in.
“Someone told me to perk up and take
my insulin. Nobody understood. It’s like
telling someone who’s anorexic they just
have to eat. It’s not going to happen.”
The failing system meant Georgie
was sectioned in a mental health unit
where she easily tricked nurses into
believing she was taking insulin.
Initially eating disorder units
wouldn’t accept her as she had a normal
BMI and when they did, nobody was
qualified to deal with her dietary needs,
much less insulin use. “Once I was in,

Road to
Becky’s journey
difered to other
diabulimics as
her medical
team helped
develop a
blueprint for
These images
tracked her
progress from
2013 to 2015.

people started realising how serious it
was,” Georgie says. “And I got very
lucky because my dietitian worked in
diabetes for five years.”
It was a hard slog for six months,
and Georgie says she felt like she spent
half the time educating her carers and
psychologist. As a result of her treat-
ment and determination, Georgie has
been in recovery for three years. She is
now a healthy weight and manages her
diabetes responsibly. “My eyes have
even recovered, which is incredible, and
I feel good again,” she says. As part of
her journey to wellness, she hopes to
help other young women sufering from

the condition. Along with fellow diabe-
tes advocate Lisa Ingle, she’s formed
a support group called Diabetes &
Eating Disorders Awareness (DEDA).
“It sometimes feels like we’re fight-
ing a losing battle,” Lisa says. “It’s
frustrating at times, but each person
who finds us discovers they are not
alone; that provides hope. It’s why we’re
here and why we keep going.”

Becky Rudkin was diagnosed with
type 1 diabetes in 2008 when she
was 19 years old. She says one of the
factors that led to her developing
diabulimia was people’s assumption
that she sufered from diabetes
because she was overweight. “It
was all over the media that diabetes
is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle,”
she says. “In fact, it’s type 2 that’s
linked to lifestyle. Type 1 is an
autoimmune disease.”
She began restricting her insulin
right away. “I went into three diabetic
comas and was in and out of an
eating disorder unit for three years.’’
But Becky’s experience was
diferent to that of many other
diabulimics. The nurses had little
understanding of the misuse of
insulin, but they were prepared to

learn. They developed a program
that’s become a blueprint for
treating diabulimia that involves
eating disorder dietitians and
diabetic teams working together.
Today, at 29, Becky’s body still
wears the scars of what she went
through. The bones in her feet “have
disintegrated into what the doctor
described as ‘honeycomb and
mush’,” she says, meaning they’re so
fragile they regularly break. “The
nerve damage is so bad I can’t even
feel it. But I know I’m very lucky to
have no other issues. I’ve been
contacted by people all over the
world with photos of [people] who
passed away because of diabulimia.”
The unit Becky was sent to
in Aberdeen, Scotland, has since
helped more girls with diabulimia.


For help in Australia and New
Zealand visit The first
international conference on diabetes
and eating disorders will take place in
New Orleans on November 9-11, 2018.
Free download pdf