The Eating Disorder I Have Had Since I Was An Infant

March 20, 2019

The Eating Disorder I Have Had Since I Was An Infant

This is the first time I will ever be writing about my eating problem. I have always known I had a problem but was never able to put a name to it. My doctors have known my entire life but never explained to me what it was. My parents struggled with this as well, and my mother blames my eating disorder on herself. I have not received treatment nor do I plan to any time soon because I'm not sure if there is any treatment for this.

I struggle heavily with "ARFID" which is "Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder."  I have had this since I was an infant living in the Philippines. It has not gotten better and has probably gotten worse as I've gotten older.

I started to learn about this disorder when one of my toddlers refused to eat anything besides juice pouches and veggie sticks. He got taken out of class once a week with a food therapist who tried to help him eat new types of food.

He's getting treatment early so his will hopefully start to go away as he gets older. Mine was never treated and I'm afraid it's way too late. I never realized how big of a problem this was until I got into a fight with Kim about my eating habits.

The infant mortality rate in the Philippines has been unchanged for years. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, It is about 35 deaths per 1,000 births in 1999. That's a lot and I know for a fact that it is way higher in places like Davao where my family is from.

My mom knew about this the hard way; two of her twin siblings died when they were a few weeks old. Being around all of that and the poverty scared her when I was born.

When I was born, my dad wasn't around because he moved back to America for his job. My mom was left with two nannies that I called "Yaya" because called them nanays was hard for a one-year-old. They were my mom's cousins and treated me like I was their own daughter.

My mom grew worried when I wouldn't finish a bottle. She would tell my Yayas that I needed to finish an entire bottle because I was going to become underweight. Of course, my yayas also grew up with that belief so they had to force feed me. My mom was the one who mostly did the force-feeding.

My dad tried to tell my mom that I would eat as much as I wanted to but my mom argued saying that she was the mother and she knew best. That didn't go down well when my dad recorded a video of my mom and yayas force feeding me when I threw up all over the baby seat.

My mom kept me away from all sorts of junk food until I was about 4. She felt embarrassed cause once at a party, I didn't want to eat any cake, ice cream or spaghetti and her friends asked her about it. After that, she didn't force feed me and started letting me try new foods.

The one single memory I have is when my dad went out of town on a business trip, and my mom made my sister and I spaghetti. I never wanted to eat spaghetti but my mom got so frustrated she tried to force feed me it until I fell to the floor in tears. From that day, I never ate spaghetti again because even being near it, I started gagging.

Foods that I refuse to eat now are all types of vegetables, all fruits besides, oranges, apples, mangos, bananas, grapes and some fruits native to the Philippines, fish besides bullinaw, meats like duck, lamb and pork if it has too much pig fat on it, some types of bread, brown rice, condiments, foods that look too soggy and shellfish because...I'm allergic.

Even though that's a broad spectrum of foods, you can see that I do not eat anything that can help my body. Trying to eat anything of those things makes me ill and nervous. Vegetables are my biggest problem as those come with almost any meal and especially Filipino food.

My mom and dad are frustrated cause I won't eat anything, my family was afraid I was going to starve in Davao because I couldn't eat anything they made, Kim and his family are worried because I won't eat dinner with them anymore due to my anxiety about being around other foods. Me and food have the worst relationship.

I try to not talk about my food problems and keep playing it off like it is no big deal. I am so picky that I would rather starve than eat because that is easier for me. My mom's frustration started to get even worse when I watched the home video of her force feeding me. I can't blame her but we both know her force feeding me has something to do with this.

I don't get embarrassed to eat in front of other people. I just have to order the same things all the time, and they are usually very unhealthy things. I started to get used to this type of life for 17 years until I knew I had to do something.

I got very sick in June before going back home. I spent the entire month in Davao exhausted and that has carried on even now. I get tired so quickly in the middle of the day that I have to stay home most of the time. I do online school cause I know I don't have enough energy, I get happy to not go to work because I am so tired and I try to do as much as I can in the early morning before my fatigue hits me and I have to lay down.

Going through every day worried about what I am going to eat even though there are so many options is absolutely stressing me out. I am so tired of feeling exhausted and my head feeling heavy because of my health.

I did start to eat spaghetti recently when Kim made it one night for dinner. I would never order it in a restaurant or ask for spaghetti but if he makes it, I'll eat some. I used all my mental strength to keep myself from gagging and it worked.

I have had no luck with vegetables though. Kim did make me a sandwich filled with kale and helped me eat the whole thing. I started sobbing heavily and begged him to eat the sandwich himself. It took me an hour to eat the entire sandwich. I was holding down the urge to puke the entire time and had to spit some of the sandwiches out in the trash because I could not swallow.

It feels like there is a barrier in my mind with these types of foods. I have started to pick up these foods without feeling super grossed out. I can't bring myself to even try to take one bite. My mind does not connect the two. Even if I did put some of the food in my mouth, my throat would feel closed up and I wouldn't be able to chew. It feels like someone is choking me while every inch of my body is struggling to stay up.

I can't do it. I will most likely never be able to get through this eating disorder. The things I do now to make up for the nutritional loss is drinking ensure and other complete nutrition shakes.

I became any Asian mothers worst fear for their children, malnourished. I'm 5'1 weighing 95 pounds while my sister is 5'6 weighing about 150. She is so healthy while I am still trying to get to 100 pounds.

My goal right now is to eat fruit every day. Maybe if I can stick with that, I will be able to venture on into eating other food that scare me but for right now, I am staying put and tired.

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