If I stood in front of you and told you that I had been suffering with an eating disorder for my whole life, you would probably laugh in my face. In fact, I’ve had quite a few reactions like that. This can mostly be attributed to the fact that I look completely healthy. I’m the right size for my body, and I seem just overall well. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case.
When I was two years old, I was diagnosed with ARFID – Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. ARFID develops early, often when you’re two or three years old. It’s mostly shoved aside as picky eating because it causes you to cut out one or more major food groups from your diet. More extreme cases include people being able to only eat one food. Luckily, ARFID affects me less intensely. I haven’t eaten a fruit or a vegetable since I was two years old. My disorder causes me to throw up as soon as the food comes in contact with my tongue, rendering me unable to even get it down my throat.
This didn’t bother me much when I was younger, since eating off of kids menus at restaurants was the norm for my age. It only recently became a problem as I reached my teenage years. My friends and I would go out to dinner and I would have to order something completely plain. I usually opted for chicken strips.
The growing stress of my eating disorder began to deepen further as I realized just how much it could shorten my life. Not only did I have to deal with the social aspect of it, but also the health consequences as well. I didn’t really feel a change in my overall state of being until I reached around fourteen years old. I began getting insane hot flashes and dizzy spells. Not only that, but I experienced heart arrhythmias as well. Because of this, I began taking multiple medications to reverse the effects.
It wasn’t until this last year, my 15th year of having the disorder, that I decided to take serious action. I went in for an interview at an eating disorder clinic – I’m starting therapy with them in a month. I’m going to be seeing an individual therapist, a family therapist, a nutritionist, and a doctor every other week until I get myself to where I want to be. Unfortunately, even though I’m well on my way to getting better, not many people know about this eating disorder. It was just introduced in the DSM, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, recently so not much research has been done on the topic. However, if you feel like you might have ARFID, please go talk to your doctor. I can get better and so can you.