After years of fighting myself and the world around me, after I moved away and decided to take care of myself, the ugly duckling turned to a swan to everyone but me.
What No One Tells You
When my grandpa passed, my entire world crumbled down and crushed me. I didn’t know at the time, but it triggered a bombing countdown. Cibophobia starved my whole life and I didn’t even know what it was yet.
I developed chronic anxiety, PTSD, my clinical OCD was out of control, and my IBS took a turn for the worst. At the time, I only just became aware of my irritable bowel syndrome.
My doctor explained that the most significant part of our nervous system is placed in our digestive system. So, it was expected that when I would have an anxiety attack, I would evacuate everything inside me. I just didn’t know how bad it would become.
What nobody tells you is that after decades of hating yourself, sadly, your eyes don’t see you as others do. No one tells you that what you see in the mirror is not you anymore.
What Hating Myself Did To Me
Because I moved back into the family house when my grandma passed to take care of my grandfather with my husband, I loved the place. However, remaining at the family house where my grandpa passed was not an option.
Already I was losing my mind and my mental health at an exceptionally rapid pace. I quickly reached out for help, and my husband talked to his friend, a realtor. I wanted to move to a quieter neighborhood than where we were, surrounded by nature and wildlife. It helped.
I wanted the isolation to help my introverted and antisocial nature. My IBS was already acting up, and since I turned to a clean vegan diet, changes were happening. To keep my mind sane, twice a day, I would go for long walks with my dog, listening to music to help myself escape the terror I lived in.
Sickness, Loss, and Terror
IBS’ biggest trigger is anxiety or stress. It makes anything one eats harder to digest. The pain is intense, like a thousand suns pricking you like needles. Your pelvic is cramping, and the left side of the middle section is subject to inflammation.
Foods like leaves, cucumbers, cabbage, anything that ferments becomes a threat. Those, in general, can stick to the intestinal wall and cause gas which people with IBS don’t process right and turns into a sharp pain that can last for a while.
My IBS at this point was out of control, and my mind was slipping. When we finally moved to our new home, my hubby and I thought it would only get better. However, my weight loss became unstoppable. Happiness was common now. I could maintain a steady loss of two to six pounds per week. I was a machine!
Everybody would ask me what my secret was to those who hurt me and called me names. I answered: sickness, loss, and terror. It was true, I developed cibophobia, which is the fear of foods itself. It was not anorexia or bulimia or related to my appearance but eating.
A Fear Nobody Believes
Living with many digestive problems often have people think one is seeking attention or use it as an excuse for their current weight. That negativity is toxic. Believe me. Cibophobia is a real phobia. It is not common, but it does exist.
Most people who develop such a phobia often had IBS take a turn for the worst and didn’t know they had irritable bowel syndrome, i.e., me. People who had eating disorders or a terrible experience with food.
Cibophobia in people makes them avoid food and drinks because of its fear and what it might do. The fear can be specific to a type of food, often those with an expiration date, canings, or untrusted origin. A phobia has roots that go deep, it is irrational, and often people with phobias are aware of its irrationality.
So, please, stop repeating that it is irrational. We know.
The Rationality In Irrationalism
I was at a point in my life where my cibophobia prevented me from eating at a restaurant. It was out of the question. I would attend family gatherings but not eat. I would watch the people around me enjoy their food, and I wouldn’t.
The fear of falling back into the pain I once experience before I knew I had IBS was prominent. Even at home, I would refuse to eat anything near the expiration date or if it spent more than 3 days in the refrigerator. My appetite grew smaller every day. At that point, I reached the lowest weight of 132 lbs.
Note here that I was born big-boned, which gives me a slightly bigger frame. At 5’5″, my healthy weight is 150 lbs—DO NOT BELIEVE THE GYM GOERS OR WORKERS.
This information comes from my doctor according to my height, my age, and “what I am.” At 132 lbs, some people thought I was sick. My eyes sunk in, black circles under my eyes, someone could play piano on my spine and ribs! I was an x-ray of myself, I guess.
Who I Was Once
Well, the truth is, I was. I was in a cibophobia crisis and incapable of controlling my IBS due to the phobia. It was a catch twenty-two.
I went from 219 lbs to 132 lbs within a year and from XL to XS. One day I realized I had to reach out for help. I did. I looked for psychological help specialized in OCD and phobias. I found someone.
I was in a crisis that people shouted was irrational. That I should take their word and all would be sunshine and rainbows.
Furthermore, some people said, “I’d love to be sick like you! I’d shed all the weight away.” Mental illness is not a game. It is not fun. It is not a magic pill to lose weight. Under my smile, terror was growing under my skin.
Therapists Can Save You
I shopped for therapists. I didn’t choose the first one that showed up. I contacted them by email and talked to them on the phone. One of them was thankful that I was open to sharing my problem in an email. I described my fears and pain. He had to be the therapist for me.
When I met him, he assured me that he took extra certifications to understand obsessive-compulsive disorder. Not many know to what extend OCD can become restrictive. But, long story short, I had to do a twenty-minute-long ritual before leaving the house. Once I would go, anxiety would still settle in, and another phobia would take its place.
My therapist helped me manage my OCD and slowly cut down on time the ritual would take. I would wash my hands twenty times before eating, counting each bite I would assume so it would be an even number, and so on. OCD is not fun.
That therapist helped me understand what I was going through mentally. He confirmed that it wouldn’t go away, but I could learn to share the brain space.
Fuck The World
People criticized me and judged me for bringing my food to gatherings. People thought it was all for my waistline and made fun of me. When I was curvier, they made fun of me for being curvier, and when thin, they made fun of how I would eat.
Toxicity spreads fast when one goes through a life-changing event. Mine was a nightmare, but it was life-changing and eye-opening, nonetheless. There was ample clearance on my Facebook! In those times, one realizes who their friends are and who the wolves are in disguise.
Society had people say they wished to be sick like me. Society had people laugh at me for living in a constant state of fear. I looked like one of those super sickening x-ray models, and people still managed to bring me down.
Ever since that realization, I turned a little more bitter and less friendly in person. I keep to myself and share nothing unless I feel a connection.
One Last Advice
Mental illnesses are real and more dangerous than we think and, more often than not, everlasting. Cibophobia is real and can damage your life in a way you never thought possible. Reaching out for help is good and, in some instances, vital.
Having a therapist changed my life. I know the good ones are hard to find, but they are worth the research. Look for their specializations. If you cannot afford one, reach out to groups that went through similar experiences for support.
Your health is essential. Society isn’t. Let them burn. Find your tribe and stay with them. We exist and want you with us. We don’t laugh at people. We don’t judge people. Because we know the pain that resides inside.
If you haven’t heard this today: I believe you.
The OCD Android,