This may be the most disturbing thing I’ve heard about young diabetics yet: “Teenage Diabetics Skip Vital Injections.” Youngsters in Scotland admit reducing their insulin doses because of the pressure to stay slim. Many actually think it’s cool, and I’m sure that goes for plenty here in America as well.
Gadz! Generations of girls have of course been told that you have to suffer to be beautiful, right? But I can’t think of anything scarier than the combination of body image issues and eating disorder that is anorexia paired with Type 1 diabetes. And what teenagers lack most, of course, is long-term thinking. They will pay so dearly for these years of starving themselves and letting their BG run high just to wear the smallest possible jeans size now.
I don’t like to admit it (even to myself), but the fact is, I was anorexic in my latter high school/early college years: diet pills, starvation diets, forced vomiting — the works. I still wonder if the diabetes now is somehow related to damage I may have done my body during that dark period. And I often deliberate on what I would tell my girls if they start to go in that direction.
In high school, I remember girls heavier than me commenting in the locker room about wishing they could “catch” anorexia for a while, just until they got thin. This is not some virus that you catch! This is a warped view of your own body and the world in which one often hates oneself and feels wretched and hopeless. In my experience, it takes a very long time to reverse the process. If you’re dealing with diabetes as well, you need help. Luckily, there are lots of proactive programs and support groups these days. Two groups called ANAD and ANRED look like a good place to start.