Today I share with you the wisdom, insight and kind sharing of information from Quinn Nystrom, Diabetes Advocate, Author and Speaker in answer to this question that came to me from a desperate mom trying to help a very sick child:
"My teen has type 1 diabetes, celiac, an eating disorder, bipolar and anxiety. The eating disorder diagnosis was initially bulimia but has since become Diabulimia. Are there any other families were dealing with this and what has worked for them?"
"I'm so sorry to hear that your daughter is struggling with several health related issues. As Becky mentioned to you, I have type-1 and struggled from bulimia for years before seeking help and now being in recovery…or as I like to call it "active recovery".
I want to commend you for seeking resources and information for how you can best support your daughter during this time. I want to first say that you are not alone as a family person who is watching a child go through living with diabetes and an eating disorder. It's so much more common then people believe. It's very sad for me but speaking nationally about diabetes for the last 13 years I'm astonished that diabetes and eating disorders really are not spoken about. I believe this is because people in the diabetes community are plagued by the misconception that if we speak about it, we are giving diabetes patient's ideas. This is beyond a false notion to me!
The best piece of advice I can give you (and later when I gained enough strength to first speak with my family about it) and then within the last year have started speaking about it publicly, and wrote a little about it in my book about living with type-1 diabetes, is this….
1. Though my family may not know what it's like having an eating disorder….if they don't come at me with judgement or criticism I'll be more receptive to speak about it to them.
2. People living with diabetes are so familiar with family, friends, peers, media, and medical professionals using words like "good diabetic" or "bad diabetic" and "good food" and "bad food"…the list continues…that so many of us who also struggle with an eating disorder place such high judgement on things assuming that others think that same way as some bad experiences that we've had. The best thing you can do is never associate black and white terms with her diabetes or ED. This goes to blood sugars, A1C's and food choices.
3. Let her know that you're always there for her when she needs you. She may not be ready to speak at that moment, but knowing that you're open to simply listening to her will mean something to her. Living with two chronic illnesses can be plain exhausting. The balancing of both can lead to burnout. Know that as a parent you can't fix everything…but being a kind, supportive, compassionate listening ear can be very helpful.
Please let me know if there are any specific questions of yours that I can answer. I write a blog….and have once written on there about living with an eating disorder. There are incredible resources in the diabetes community for your daughter as well as some great eating disorder treatment centers that I've worked with and found great success. If you feel comfortable feel free to give my Facebook info, email, website or whatever to your daughter. I have a real passion for mentoring other young women living with diabetes."
Diabetes Advocate, Author & Speaker
Thank you Quinn for being the Hope Network Guest Blogger today! If anyone else is interested in being a guest blogger, please contact me.