I wasn’t always open about my struggles; it’s only been about a year and half, give or take, since I started to publicly share that I was dealing with a chronic illness. I always viewed my illness as a weakness — something that made me different and less — but since I’ve gone public with it, I’ve learned it’s much more than that.
One of the biggest obstacles I face is eating, (eye roll). It literally consumes all of me, at all times. It’s not an easy thing to struggle with because it can, and does, affect your entire body. There’s so many components to this, I don’t even know where to start. Basically, I get in under a thousand calories a day, orally, and that’s an overstatement. My gastrointestinal doctor calls this Failure to Thrive & Malnutrition.
The medical side of my eating struggles come from a combination of things. For starters, I have Gastroparesis, meaning the involuntary muscles used throughout my digestive tract are partially paralyzed. What this actually means, is that I am nauseous 24/7, I have intense stomach pain most days and I vomit often. This causes me to have trouble maintaining my weight, blood sugar, and nutrition.
Then there’s the psychological side of it. The psych has two contradicting pieces to it. 1) I struggled with an eating disorder for quite some time as a younger teen. 2) I have been conditioned to become extremely fearful of eating because every time I do, I have pain, nausea, vomiting, etc. Unfortunately for me, the eating disorder developed way before the inability to eat, so I tend to still struggle with the idea of gaining weight, even though I know I’m currently at an unhealthy weight.
And then, if medical and psychological components isn’t enough craziness for one body, there’s a neurological aspect as well. This is called Sensory Processing Disorder, it’s something I’ve struggled with my entire life but is extremely present when it comes to food & eating. Sensory Processing is a very complex system, but a super basic way to put it: it’s the way your brain processes sensory stimulation, such as taste, smell, touch, movement, etc. This makes it really hard for me because food stimulates so much at once; there’s smells, tastes, visual stimulation, there’s textures, and honestly it’s just overwhelming. I’m cringing just writing about it. The other neurological struggle I have is that I don’t often feel hunger, so I don’t have the desire to eat. This is more closely related to the Central Nervous System, but loosely related to Sensory Processing Disorder. Interoception is sometimes considered to be the eighth sense, by definition “It is the sense responsible for detecting internal regulation responses, such as respiration, hunger, heart rate, and the need for digestive elimination.”
I hate it, I hate everything to do with eating. Going to restaurants, parties, even daily lunchtime with coworkers makes me incredibly anxious. Due to this fear and anxiety, I tend to avoid situations and I’ve developed aversions to all food. For a while, I would get sick at the sight or smell of food. I work relentlessly on trying to increase my food intake, but it’s a slow process. Check out my “DIY Feeding Therapy” –> here!