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Diabulimia: The World's Most Dangerous Eating Disorder
Diabulimia is where people with Type 1 diabetes deliberately give themselves less insulin than they need, for the purpose of weight loss.
Gemma, Nabeelah and Becky are some of thousands of people who suffer from Diabulimia. Usual eating disorder treatment does not work, but medical experts hope to change that.
If you have been affected by the issues raised in this documentary, the following organisations within the UK may be able to help:
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Recovering from diabulimia | Diabetes UK
Supporting someone with diabulimia | Diabetes UK
Milionerzy. Czego nie ma pluskwa domowa? Co napędza kerozyna? Diabulimia - co to? Kto nagminne choruje na zapalenie przyusznic? :: Magazyn :: RMF FM
way to raise much-needed awareness for this through making the video. i didn't hear about it until now
I Googled around and Becky (girl with the crutches) is doing great now. Her feet have healed and she no longer needs assistance walking, she was engaged last year (probably married now) and has a dog and she seems very happy. A £1.2m grant was awarded to fund research of diabulimia. Recovery is possible <3
It's crazy to me that I've studied eating disorders and ED treatments for years--currently about to graduate with my masters in mental health counseling--and I have literally never heard of this. It does make me very sad but I am thankful this happened to pop up on my YouTube channel so that I can educate myself.
"Do you miss your sister that died" come on I'm sure you can ask a more sensitive question
The parents at 19:30 reacted perfectly. Of course instinctively most parents get angry or panic and cry and try to force their children to eat or in this case inject.
But these parents smiled, told her they loved her, held their fear inside, the mum held her hand and said she would check her sugars now and then and asked if that was okay. They didn't push her or panic her, they didn't throw lots of threats around. She felt comfortable and they made her feel like she could go to them. A person with an ED is not in control, they're mentally ill, it is not their fault, when a parent treats them like they're in the wrong and thrusts authority on them they're not creating a bridge for them to be honest.
These parents were so wonderful. They kept calm, they surrounded her with positivity and offered her help. This young lady is so lucky to have such amazing parents.
Rx for FI:
I'm a health professional (a pharmacist), and I've never heard of the term "diabulimia". During my schooling, we often discussed "non-adherence" as it applies to insulin and other meds. I am well aware of the ramifications of a diabetic not taking their insulin, and the seriousness of the complications of non-controlled diabetes. But no one ever connected the dots.... type 1 diabetic not taking their insulin for the purpose of weight-loss/achieving a "slim physique"...this is an eating disorder! This video really opened my eyes.
In the United States, we encounter another problem more often, that I'm guessing is not nearly as prevalent in the UK, Australia or Canada.
In the US, young diabetics are dying because they are rationing/skipping their insulin because THEY CANNOT AFFORD IT.
How terribly sad both situations are. On one side, neglected mental health issues... On the other, a whole systemic societal problem that our government refuses to address because big pharma has everyone wrapped around their finger. So frustrating.
Nabila’s parents made me cry. They were so sweet and kind to her...especially her daddy. I love that he made her smile when he said “that’s naughty” she knew he was concerned but it took some of the pressure off...and her mum!....she’s so sweet too it must have given her some power back when her mother said she would occasionally check her sugars but asked her if that was alright with her. She is a very blessed young lady. She’s the only one that I heard a parent tell her he loved her “always and forever”. That’s really what she needs. This girl will recover.
When I was in residential for anorexia, my friend had this. I have celiac (basically a gluten allergy) we're constantly taught NOT to read the labels on food, because it encourages us to focus on calories/fat/carbs etc. Type 1 diabetes and celiac both have pretty high rates of eating disorders. It was frustrating during treatment when we'd receive our snacks and people would say "stop reading the label!" And we both would be like we HAVE to read it so we don't DIE!!
The girl saying that her vision is getting worse, numbness in hands and feet, headaches etc... those are complications of chronic high blood glucose levels and those things can be avoided by using her insulin properly.... breaks my heart
That was brilliant, well done everyone involved. I hope they're all still getting the help they need.
Daisy's Glam team:
As a diabetic
I'm in tears right now
Cuz only us know how hard it is to manage this illness..
the scene where the muslim girl was sitting with her parents had me in tears. Ugh, could feel the complexity of the pain going on there. Prayers for all of the young women on the show and their families
I was diagnosed T1 in 1965. I was 5. As I watch this I realize I dealt with a type of binge and purge throughout my teen years. Never heard anyone bring up ‘eating disorders’. I was told I was a non compliant patient a naughty girl That I would be dead before I turned 30....I survived. I just celebrated my 60 birthday. Attitude is everything...Love yourself where you are at...Never give up...Never give in. Love to all the young people struggling to stay alive.🥰
In America, it is the unaffordability of insulin that is keeping diabetics from taking it.
as a type one diabetic, whose dealt with starvation keytones multiple times as well as a fuck ton of mental health issues this made me feel so heard and valid, thank you for bringing light to this-and for reminding me to test my glucose lol
THIS IS FOR WHOEVER HAS DIABETES:
TAKE YOUR INSULIN YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL AND DON'T NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT 💖
What a wonderfully supportive dad! Asking all the right questions and not making her feel bad about it
As a future nurse this is great awareness because I’ve never heard of this!
You can tell that blonde woman has done a lot of grief processing and has worked hard to be at peace with the reality of her sister’s death. I admire her strength.
Nabeelah's parents are so amazing and supportive. Her mom manages to laugh and smile, but look at her eyes. She is is so sad and scared for her daughter. I hope this family finds healing.
So sad. I remember I used to have severe anorexia between the ages of 11-16 (including recovery) and it nearly killed me. I now look back at pictures and I have no idea how I thought I was fat. I was literally skin and bone and at risk for cardiac arrest. Just goes to show how powerful it is.
I’ve never of diabulimia before but this adds to my medical hobby of learning about various different medical conditions 😊 adding to my knowledge could help someone one day
People literally dying to be thin. Great job, fat shamers. Feckin well done.
Not everyone with an eating disorder is skin and bone and i love that this video has focused on the mental illness side of it rather than physical appearance
Nibeelas parents are so very sweet and gosh you can see how they try to be as understanding as possible but the worry in the mothers eyes are so deep, they love their daughter so much. I hope that love gives her strength to see how beautiful she is and how much love is worth living for...
You can see how concerned Nabeela’s mother is for her. You can tell she loves her daughter so much..it’s heart warming but also sad because I’m sure her mom is wishing she knew how to help
This brings me to tears.
As a Mother now myself and as an ex anorexic/bulimic. The fear never leaves you - not even decades later. I hope these brave young Women go on to recover.
Who in their right mind would ask someone if they missed their sister that passed away?
Thank you for doing this documentary! This needs to get recognised as an official disorder as soon as possible.
Inaamul Hassan Jaffer:
This documentary is beautiful and inspiring! Value your health, without it, we’re close to nothing🙌🏻
My goodness this is an eye opener. I've used my insulin to control my weight for as long as I can remember. No doctor ever had a clue. I'm so glad this is a step in the right direction.
The pain in that mum and dad‘s eyes when that beautiful young lady admitted to going weeks without taking her insulin was just heart tugging. I pray they all have found a way to carry thru this and have a healthy, successful and joyous life. 🙌🏼
Thank you for popping up on my feed. I’d never heard of this before and it’s so eye opening! You’re all absolutely beautiful inside and out. I hope they’re all well xx
It really upsets me that even though the girl wants to be hospitalized, nobody offers her a bed. Like, what?! So many girls with eating disorders that don't want to be seen by a doctor and she has the courage to do it and she is rejected. :(
i’m so sorry to everyone who’s ever been through this :(
Teared up with the scene of the family on the swing set. I could feel the pain in the mother’s eyes
To anyone struggling please know your not “broken”, “worthless” or “damaged goods” your a beautifully complex being please be kind to yourselves every when you make mistakes
The eating disorder monster in me, that I fight everyday, is jealous of them. And I feel so guilty because this isn’t something to be jealous of, this is something you should be sad and wished to help these people.
just a potato bro:
I weighed 90 pounds when i was diagnosed, gained about 60 pounds in the first year (im only 5'2). I continued to gain weight really fast and felt like i had no control over it. Im trying to lose weight the right way by eating healthier and exercising more. I have thought about skipping insulin as it leads to significant weight loss, but i had to realize that my life was more important that a few extra pounds. Media makes people feel horrible about the way we look, i doubt its going to stop anytime soon, but know that someone out there loves and cares about you, find something to live for as we might as well do something before leaving the planet. Get something out of this life, we will all be dead one day, just keep going, one day at a time, keep on keeping on, have a wonderful life 😎😘👊
Sending love to everyone in this video, thank you all for sharing your story.
I’m student of nutrition and my work conclusion is about Diabulimia, this ED is very dangerous.
The video helps me a lot in my research!
We need to end EDs 🙌🏻
The last time I watched this, my sister wasn’t diabetic, and I never thought this was something that could affect my family. Oh, how times change😔
The dad trying to understand his daughter, he thinks she is upset for having diabetes when in fact she wants to avoid weight gain. Very good documentary, well done on bringing awareness on this.
I’m sending all of my love and support to everyone that’s struggling. You’re not alone. We see you. Love you girls. Thank you for no giving up
Hannah de Groot:
The mental health part about type 1 diabetes is so hard to understand for outsiders. They don't seem to get it and that's what makes it so hard to get help.
This was three years ago, I hope they're all doing okay now 🙁💖
I freakin love the way those women helped the younger women with her eating disorder, totally made me teary eyed... I just wanna focus on people that behave like they did, if I do that this world is not so bad.
I know that was a difficult conversation for the Muslim family, especially considering the family/cultural norms, but overall they handled it pretty well. Very obvious that they are a loving and supportive family. Hopefully all works out well.
Watching people with complications such as these makes me wanna take care of myself 100x more than I am now and I’m a pretty healthy 20 year old.
Love that the dad told his daughter that he loves her always and forever after she told him for the first time that she was restricting insulin
Nabeela's story hurt my heart. Mostly because she was afraid of their reactions but her mom, she knew. You can see how hard she's working to keep herself together. They seem to really love her. I hope she is doing well now.
As someone with a high-functioning depression it makes me sick to see that some people with mental illnesses get help and others don't.
A great reminder to appreciate one's good health and to never take it for granted.
Thank you for bringing light to this. Strength and love to these women and those who were not of this program. I hope you find your paths to wellness. 💜⭐️
I'm type one and all I know is that managing type one well often feels like an eating disorder on its own. You have to constantly monitor yourself, think about food, plan your food, literally count how many grapes you eat... I don't know how you don't end up with an eating disorder every time. It's a struggle every day.
Nabeelah's family clearly loves her very much. You can see their sadness, shock, worry, fear for her and love for her, all at the same time.
I’ve heard this disorder being called “T1ED” (pronounced “tied”) for “Type 1 Eating Disorder”. It’s apparently seen as more accurate than “diabulimia”.
it's good to see them showing a muslim family people seem to think other cultures don't have eds... and it's hard enough within the culture like she was saying without the rest of the world just thinking oh nah you're not a teenage white girl you can't have an ed. i hope she's gotten better inshallah❤
alyssa joy black:
I wish with my whole heart my father had reacted to my eating disorder like that wonderful man reacted to his daughter's
The parents of the one girl with the hijab almost made me cry. Glad to see the care they have for her.
i hope they're all recovered and doing well now💗
I didn’t search for this, it showed up in my suggestions and wow I’m really glad it did and glad I clicked on it because this really opened my eyes, thank you for bringing awareness to this.
amazing that they included a girl from a different culture ( thats known for not recognizing or shaming disorders) and that that girl isnt already stick-thin. visibility done well.
Wow, I'm a third year pharmacy student and I've been learning alot about diabetes and it's complications, it's so different hearing these personal experiences and learning these things in lectures. So insightful.
this makes me incredibly sad, I was diagnosed with diabetes type one at age 10 and three years later I started disordered eating. I'm still trying to get over it. I want to eat healthier and be healthier but it's so hard. People don't understand how diabetes forces you to focus on food and your body and counting carbohydrates. I can't *not* think about it.
I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered this! My mum, a late onset type 1 diabetic got diagnosed around the age of 47 - she was always a size 16/18 as she developed the diabetes she was dropping 6/10lb a week and dropped to a size 10/8 before they realised she was type 1 not 2 because of her age - my dad died a few years later so she was on her own.
She avoided appointments, refused hospital admissions but loved her new size and figure and gave her a new confidence - I found her on 17.01.13 at 4pm and she was pronounced dead at 7.30. She was 52 - at the time the inquest took 6 months and it was hypothermia brought on by Ketoacidosis. I think because she was older (a teacher) it was just assumed she’d know how to look after herself so was kind of left alone - she broke my heart
Nabeelah has a physique which I think is making her feel like she needs to skip insulin more. I was shocked to see her skinny frame because her face looks so full and healthy. I think she gets her face from her mom where it must naturally tend to store fat in her cheeks and jaw and unfortunately, our face is the first thing people see and the first thing she might see in the mirror. Ironically, I've always been envious of people with this kind of physique. The lack of fat in my face makes me look older and gaunter if I get dehydrated or too tired. Face fat makes people look young and healthy.
Wow. Just.... wow.
This is good to bring awareness to this mental illness.
Thrift with Mary:
Our mind can do things our body...
Thank you for the awareness. Never heard about this until this video is featured by YouTube.
I’m trying to loss some weight so this is very informative 😍
The woman who talked about not wanting to pass her eating disorder to her little girl... Breaks my heart. So many mothers intentionally do the opposite. Please hold on for Evie, the world needs mothers like you.
My Bestfriend from childhood has been struggling with this for about two years...It’s one of the hardest struggles I’ve ever seen someone fight.
I've been a type 1 diabetic for almost 21 years and this is the first time I've heard of diabulimia. Scary to say the least as I used to not take my insulin so I could lose weight 😳😳
My best friend/one of the greatest loves of my life died from this. It was a living hell watching her do this to herself and cry all the time from the horrible neuropathy that made it feel like her arms and legs were constantly on fire. The angry outbursts and constant mood swings and pain she went through because she was afraid to get fat from taking her insulin. The constant trips to the ER because she would end up in ketoacidosis and diabetic comas from not taking her insulin. She died at 27 years old weighing only 86 pounds, but no one would take her disorder seriously or help me get her help.
I still hurt everytime something reminds me of her.
Such a great documentary. Literally working miracles as well as raising awareness. I hope there will be a lot more research and support. At university I wanted to become a clinical psychologist so that I could help people with eating disorders and their families. I didn't achieve my goal but it is good to see there are people doing this essential work.
I love seeing each one of these girls happy and smiling in this video. If only they could see what we see in them. I'm so glad this issue was raised. It's heartbreaking.
I was diagnosed with T1D in 2000 when I was 21. I did this to myself off and on through my 20s and 30s, not even knowing that it has a name. I’m now on an insulin pump, and HATING the numbers on the scale. It’s still a daily battle to not restrict. 😕
I've never heard of this, but thanks for the awareness!
When her father said "Love you babes. Remember that. Always and forever." 😭 Would break my heart if my child ever felt this. Ever suffered this and felt they had to do it alone. Bless them all 💖
I've never heard of this disorder and I hope everyone stays safe
I fought with this disorder when I was in my early twenties I'm 54 now and a survivor but there is something people should know about this disorder which parents tend to forget is that not only do you have to watch out for symptoms of it's relapse ,you also have to watch for any other symptoms that we will substitute in it's place. This is very important for continued healing. It does and will become easier.
I've never heard of this disorder. Maybe your doctor hadn't either. But even so--even if weren't classified as a disorder-- your Doctor had no right to dismiss your concerns. I hope you have by now gotten help from someone better.
The worry in the Bengali mum's eyes is heartbreaking... I hope all the girls get better soon.
I hadn't heard of Diabulimia until know and I'm so glad I have. I think raising awareness is amazing and hopefully eventually no one will suffer from this horrible disorder. Sending love to everything in the video.
Glad to see this shared. I have witnessed it with two close friends and it is very serious.
I’m so glad there’s more awareness of this now. I was locked in a psych ward because I wasn’t taking my insulin, and they knew so little about what I needed that they actually wouldn’t give me any insulin while I was there because they thought I was just misusing my medication. I asked to leave the ward and was told I had a death wish. Most frustrating, scary and humiliating experience of my life
I feel for these women who have to go through this. But it’s so wonderful to have a family who wants to help
This really hit home for me. I'm 35 now, but I suffered from diabulimia through most of my early-mid 20's. I was bullied a lot on school for being chubby and I'd always hated my body, but I also hated dieting and exercising. One summer when I was 17 my family noticed I was losing weight even though I was still eating a lot, so from there we learned I had type 2 diabetes, though later it became type 1. When i went back to school I was still noticeably slimmer, and I saw how differently everyone treated me; I wasn't bullied nearly as much for my weight. Once I started taking my medication, however, my weight crept back up. I was terrified of gaining all that weight back and having people treat me horribly again, so I started neglecting to take my meds more and more often. When I was about 19 I ended up in the hospital for ketoacidosis (high blood sugar) and began to have to take insulin shots. That's when my diabulimia really spiraled out of control. I'd skip my insulin for weeks at a time sometimes, and at the time I thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world that I could do what most people only dream of: eat anything I wanted, any amount I wanted, and still be thin. I felt like it was a wish come true, and and while I'd feel a little sick and run down sometimes it wasn't anything I couldn't live with.I thought. I ended up in the hospital more times than I can count for high blood sugar, but they'd always fix me up again and I'd go right back to my same old ways, always promising my family I'd take my diabetes seriously this time but knowing full well it was a lie. I was just so terrified of gaining weight, and at the time I didn't even feel as if I had an eating disorder. All I did was eat and not take my insulin--it was that simple. No starvation, no binging and purging... there was none of that stuff you normally associate with an eating disorder. And my family didn't put 2 and 2 together, either--they thought I was just in denial about having diabetes, when in actuality I almost felt blessed to have it. I also thought I could keep all this up and that it would never catch up to me.
It was about 2005 when I started to get massive rectal abscesses. They were excruciatingly painful, and I'd get them one after another due to my constant state of high blood sugar. I simply couldn't take the pain anymore, so I vowed to start taking at least some of my insulin, though still not as much as I should have. It was soon after that my life went to shit. I began to suffer horrible neuropathy pain over every inch of my body, not just in the hands and feet. It was head to toe, constant burning/electrical pain, all day everyday. There was nothing I could do to stop it, no drug or pain medication that eased the suffering. Every inch of my skin was constantly on fire. I couldn't even bear to wear clothes, or stand the weight of a blanket against me. I spent over a year laying in bed, naked, on satin sheets, and even those hurt when they touched me. I was nearly skeletal, weighing only 90 lbs at one point, but not because I wasn't taking my insulin like I was supposed to, but because I'd given up eating. A part of me was hoping I'd starve to death. I wanted to die everyday. And the worst part was no one knew what the hell was wrong with me. I went to specialist after specialist, but no one had any answers. I didn't know if I'd ever recover from whatever was causing the pain, and there wasn't a day that went by that I didn't think about suicide. The only thing that kept me alive was the thought of my mom coming home and finding me dead. I hated myself for ever letting it get to this point, cursed myself for not just taking my insulin all those years ago. I was finally stick-thin like I'd always wanted to be, but the price i paid was higher than I'd ever imagined. Nothing was worth the hell I'd allowed myself to fall into.
After a year or so of this torture I ended up having to go see a counselor for depression, much as I didn't want to leave my house, and it was only though the purest of luck that she knew a woman who'd gone through the same neuropathy pain I was currently experiencing. We met and she took me to a doctor who could finally help me, and for the first time since it had started I had hope. Just that meant more to me than anything. I slowly but surely began to recover, and about early 2007 I was living my life again. And while I was eternally grateful to be given a second chance, I was also unfortunately a hard learner.
A few years went by and you guessed it--the weight began to creep back up again. With that I began to slip back into my old habits. Sometimes it takes us more than once to learn a lesson, especially when we're young and stupid. The neuropathy began once more, and I was right back in bed, miserable and hating myself for doing this to myself AGAIN. But this time the lesson stuck. I began not only accepting my diabetes (wanting to deny I had a disease was also a factor in why I ended up where I did), but also accepting that I'd never be as thin as I wanted to be unless I was horribly sick and in terrible pain. I've not backslid since then, and am working on being healthy rather than skinny. It took me a very long time to accept my situation and my body and just learn to live with things the way they are. Now I check my sugar regularly and keep much better control over my numbers.
I had a terrible experience with this not-very-well-known eating disorder and it almost cost me my life more than once, and there were more times than not while i was going through the worst of the pain I honestly would have preferred death. I just hope if you've read this far and are living with diabulimia, are maybe even thinking it's a dream come true like I did once, I hope my story can perhaps inspire you to get help. I don't want anyone to have to suffer the way I did, to have to give up so many years of your life being in and out hospitals, and especially to end up living with pain so awful that you think death is the only way out. I'm glad a documentary like this exists to shed some light on this very much overlooked and misunderstood health problem.
When I first heard of this, I was so scared that my mom would become affected. She’s always struggled with her weight and will occasionally skip meals. I hope she never goes this far.
Nabeelas dad reminds me of my dad so so so much. I suffer from a different illness and the way her parents reacted took me back to when I was in a bad state and how devastating it was for them. I pray she finds the help she needs and starts taking her insulin. I really pray that everyone will illness find a way to get better.
I’ve been type 1 diabetic almost my whole life, in my late teens early 20s I suffered from diabulima although I didn’t know it had a name.. I ended up in the hospital for a week with DKA and it was horrible. That was enough to scare me into taking care of myself and I have since then..It’s a hard disease to control on its own and I often don’t feel great but nothing compares to how awful I felt in that hospital.
Ive been researching eating disorders and i dont know how i have not heard of this, thank you for the awareness
I am EXTREMELY hesitant to say that one eating disorder is worse than another because that only alienates people suffering. This is still absolutely horrifying.
Didn’t start seeing this until I started working in the emergency department. It’s extremely dangerous. I really hope they get better.
Oh my lord Nabeelas family is beautiful. So kind and understanding 😍
at my lowest point, this is exactly what i experienced. i didn’t care about the consequences because i felt it didn’t matter if i died, but i was so happy to be losing weight. controlling my body image was the only thing that kept me happy at the time.
Thank you for sharing your stories with us all.
Nabeelah's parents seem awesome, her Dad especially. What a lucky girl to have such understanding, loving, calm and considerate parents.
There is unconditional love for in that young teenager’s family.
Lisa Marie Clark:
It's unfortunate how taboo this still is.
Love and compassion could help save someone's life. Everyone deserves respect for goodness sake. An E.R. nurse saved my life years ago. She also gave me back my self-esteem. Without a caring support system after hospitalization it is so hard to keep going on.
God I remember watching this three years ago when I was dealing with this as well. It’s so hard when no one understands why you’re acting a certain way. My doctors and parents dismissed it as me being difficult and just moody when in fact I was really struggling. My parents used to make me feel really bad for not taking care of myself because I was “hurting” them. Telling me that I do this because I hate them, when in fact it was them who made me so self conscious about myself because they kept telling me to lose weight.