A diabetic woman who stopped taking her insulin injections in a bid to lose weight has revealed how she turned her life around after the dangerous eating disorder landed her in hospital.
Georgia Thomson, 27, from Cardiff, who has type 1 diabetes, started misusing her insulin because she was worried the ‘pure fat’ injections were leading her to put on weight.
During her battle with the eating disorder, known as diabulimia, Georgia constantly felt sick and lost some of her eyesight as her body faltered without the insulin it needed. On one occasion she was left in a coma for four days after the disorder led her to develop diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious complication of diabetes.
At her lowest point, Georgia’s weight dropped to just six stone and she was a UK size 4. But after a doctor told her mother she was lucky to be alive, Georgia vowed to make a change.
Personal battle: Georgia Thomson, 27, from Cardiff has type 1 diabetes but started skipping and misusing her insulin in 2009 in a bid to lose weight. Pictured, Georgia during her battle with the eating disorder, known as diabulimia, from which she is now recovering
Fit and strong: Georgia said the eating disorder has taught her more about her diabetes and she now lives a full and active life. Pictured, Georgia shows off her gym-honed physique
Proud: Now 10st 7lbs and a UK size 8-10, Georgia stays in shape with weightlifting and yoga
Now 10st 7lbs and a UK size 8-10, she takes better care of her health than she ever did before and wants to show others that diabetes does not need to be limiting.
Georgia said: ‘For me, at the start, it was all about weight loss and as long as my clothes were getting smaller I didn’t care about the consequences.
‘It was my ticket to being happier and more confident. By the end it was all about fear though. I was in a mindset where I thought every injection of insulin was pure fat and I couldn’t see a way out of thinking that way.’
Diabulimia is an eating disorder that occurs in type one diabetics when they misuse their insulin to lose weight or to gain some control in their life.
Debilitating: Georgia, pictured while suffering from the eating disorder, said she constantly felt tired and achy
Georgia was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1999. She started misusing her insulin while on a ski trip in Canada in February 2009.
The first time she skipped her insulin, her body shut down and she spent four days in a coma in the intensive care unit of a Calgary hospital. ‘My hair was falling out, constantly cold and my skin was grey,’ she said.
As the disorder tightened its grip, Georgia lost weight and found herself battling with a string of dangerous serious side effects.
‘I had an unquenchable thirst and constant trips to the bathroom,’ she said. ‘Most days I’d drink five litres of fluid at least. I was constantly tired and my whole body ached. I lost my eyesight as my eyes developed a layer of glucose over them.
‘I had a constant feeling of nausea and my blood felt thick. It feels like you’ve got syrup running through your veins rather than blood. At its worst I was slipping in and out of comas basically.
Role model: Georgia said she wants to show that type 1 diabetes doesn’t have to be limiting
Powerful: Georgia shows off her strong and toned physique during a gym session
‘I eventually told my sister what was happening and how I was at a point where I was scared of my insulin. I just realised that what I was doing was having severe long-term effects and essentially, I wanted to live.’
Happiness: Georgia, pictured today, has found a way to manage her illness
But it was only after a shocking doctor’s appointment that Georgia vowed to make a change.
‘The thing that really made me determined to get over it though was when my GP said to my mum, “I can’t believe your daughter is still alive”,’ Georgia said.
‘It not only shocked me to the core, it scared me and made me feel incredibly ashamed and selfish that I’d been doing this to myself.’
While she once struggled to even walk down the road, Georgia now has a challenging fitness routine that includes yoga three times a week and weightlifting five days a week. She also eats healthily ’80 per cent of the time’.
The battle with diabulimia has also taught her more about diabetes and she wants to serve as a role model for others with the condition.
She added: ‘To come that close to death, as dramatic as that sounds, made me realise that type one is a condition that cannot be ignored and it needs constant care.
‘However, what I’ve learnt over the last four years is that whilst it is a full time job, it can be easily managed with just a bit more thought and planning each day.
‘My goal is to raise awareness and in doing so hopefully increase the support available in the medical profession…
‘I think my family are very proud of me for overcoming it, despite it being my fault I was in such a mess in the first place. I also think they are even more proud of me now for speaking up about my experience and trying to help anyone who is going through it.’
Speaking out: Georgia wants to help other people in the throes of the eating disorder