Marie Claire Australia - 01.05.2018

(Ben Green) #1



eorgie Peters has just
eaten lunch – a salad

  • and she knows what
    she ought to do next.
    Lying on her bed and
    fiddling with her in-
    sulin injector pen, she toys with the idea
    of not doing it. She’ll feel terrible if she
    doesn’t, but it’ll keep her skinny. She’ll
    still fit into that tiny summer dress.
    Friends will tell her she looks great and,
    besides, it was only a salad. She doesn’t
    really need that life-saving injection.
    Eventually, the demons in her head
    win and, letting the pen fall from her

fingers, she resolves to do it later. Not
the full dose she has been prescribed,
of course – just enough to avoid a coma
and hospitalisation.
For five years, Georgie, now 25,
danced with the devil by restricting her
vital insulin injections in an efort to
lose weight. Even in the face of debilitat-
ing vision loss, potential loss of limbs
and organ failure, the Melbourne teach-
er struggled with a condition that is
relatively unknown but prevalent across
Australia and the world. Termed diabu-
limia, the chronic eating disorder is
killing people with diabetes.

Experts estimate that between 40
per cent and 60 per cent of type 1
diabetics have experimented with
restricting their insulin to lose weight.
While there are no firm figures on how
many young women have died from the
disorder, anecdotally, the number of
cases appears to be increasing, with the
associated risks well documented. “Eat-
ing disorders have the highest mortality
rate of any mental health disorder,”
confirms Dr Susan Hart, a clinical
senior lecturer at The Boden Institute.
The term diabulimia is not
accepted by the medical fraternity, so in


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