We’re balancing my camera on a tiny tripod, on a bag, in a convention center.
– On a rail. This is green tea–
– Oop! [beep] Excuse the production quality because we are at VidCon right now. So, this is my friend Noelle, if you wanna introduce yourself. – Hello. I am Noelle. My channel is Nowhalle, and I make videos about chronic illness, mental health, gymnastics videos, vlogs, music covers, essentially everything but cooking. – We went to a disability networking session and found out that we both have similar eating disorders, so I thought it’d be really great to like, compare and contrast our experiences. What is your eating disorder? – Short story time: This year, when I was at school, I went to the nurse for my anxiety, and I was like, “Hey, I have anxiety, please help,” and since I had surgery over the summer, she wanted me to go to the nurse–
I was at the counselor, not the nurse first– counselor, who told me to go to the nurse and be like, “Update your history!” So I went there, and then we started talking about food allergies and food stuff, and she goes, “I think you’re anorexic.” And then she sent me to a whole bunch of crap. Eventually I ended up at an eating disorder clinic, and they said that I had ARFID. But at school, they kept saying, “You’re anorexic, you need to leave and go to in-patient and deal with your eating disorder.” But mine, it’s mainly anxiety driven. So whenever I’m– I hate eating around people, and I hate certain foods, like I don’t like green food. I don’t know why. Just something in my brain is like, “Nope, we’re not gonna do that.” And then there’s some texture things, but I also have food allergies, so that makes it difficult on top of being a selective eater, cuz I’m like, “Oh, I can’t eat this, this, and this,” and so a restaurant will say, “Oh, have this instead,” and I’ll be like, “No, thank you.” So I normally pack my own things and bring it with me, and so if people ask me, “Oh, can you have this?” sometimes I’ll put it on my swallowing disorder instead and just say, “Oh, I can’t eat that.” – At the end of this video, I’m gonna link to the video that we made for Noelle’s channel where we talk about her allergies specifically, and how that kind of overlaps with selective eating as well. So like, what age did you start having selective eating issues, if you remember? – Haha. Good question. Since my food allergies went undiagnosed so long, I don’t know which was in charge of what habits.
My mom is a “picky eater”, and so people would be like, “Oh, she’s just like you, she won’t let her food touch, she eats food in certain orders– The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Ironic, because I was then allergic to apples. That’s been going on like, basically forever, so since elementary school at least. Like when I was in fourth grade, I refused to buy school lunch anymore. – That reminds me of when I went to sixth grade summer camp and I brought a cooler full of Eggo waffles, cuz I couldn’t eat anything that they had for breakfast, and I just told everybody that I had a super rare allergy to a chemical that was in most foods. So I pretended to have your issue.
– Because it’s easier. – Right.
– “Easier.” – Because people put more credibility on like, physical illnesses, rather than like, “mental illnesses”. – And the thing is, I have a swallowing disorder. Swallowing disorder, eating disorder, they both have “disorder” in the name, so why do people hold it to a different standard? – I was actually tested for the same thing, which I talk about in her video. – It’s called eosinophilic esophagitis.
– I had a barium swallow study done, which is when you swallow stuff that’ll show up on an x-ray, and it came up that I didn’t have swallowing problems, so instead of trying to look for what was actually wrong with me, the response was, “Well it’s all in your head, so you just need to eat normal now.” So, speaking of like, all of those different things like, working together and making it hard for you to eat anything, what are your safe foods?
– I love cereal. Any cereal that is gluten-free– I have a bag of cereal in my bag right now. I like cereal, and I like red fruit. – We pronounce that so different. I was like, “How do you spell that?” and I’m like, “Oh, you mean cereal.” I’m similar cuz like, cereal is like a grain, right. So like, grains, breads… cheeses– basically things that are really mild on the stomach, so like people who have gastrointestinal issues, I have a lot of similarities to that.
– Hi. Are you wary about eating in front of people at all, or…?
– Yes. – …how your food’s like arranged on the plate or anything? – Um, I don’t like food to touch each other. Eating in front of people is weird because when I go out to eat, I like to order off the kids menu, cuz they have the stuff that’s like, grilled cheese and macaroni, and like really simple foods that aren’t like a big mish-mash of different things. Sometimes I get mistaken for a 12-year-old and they give me the kids menu, which is really convenient, but everyone looks at me funny if I ask for the kids menu. – I was denied the kids menu once; it was this year. I was out with my parents, and I said, “Oh, can I have a kids menu please?” and they said no. They say, “Are you twelve?” and I go, “…No?” and they said, “Then you can’t have a kids menu.” I’m like fine, I’m not giving you any money.
– Speaking of eating in front of other people, how did like, your family deal with it? My mom is one of those people who thinks that you can like, think yourself out of depression and stuff, so like she was really concerned about my eating, but she thought that if I just like, thought hard enough, I could get over it. So like, how did your family deal with it?
– Uh, they say I don’t have an eating disorder. Since people kept trying to say that I was anorexic, but I’m not, they’ve decided that I don’t have like any problems with eating instead. But I think that ARFID is the right diagnosis; it’s just not how people perceive it. It’s a sensory thing; we learned that I have sensory processing disorder too, and so there’s sensory stuff, there’s food allergies, and there’s anxiety, which is all sort of cumulating and turns into ARFID. – I forget, did you say you were diagnosed with it?
– Mhm. – Okay.
– It’s on a paper. – I was diagnosed with a– it was called sensory integration disorder back then, but sensory processing disorder, and then I was told that I had a feeding disorder, which I’ve mentioned before. But I wasn’t seeing anyone when ARFID got added to the DSM, so I haven’t been like, “officially” diagnosed with it, but I was diagnosed with like, what it used to be. “Recovery” is kind of like, impossible for you because you have a lot of like physical stuff that works with it too, but like, in terms of like, improving the range of foods you can eat or be more comfortable in public, like what kind of steps are you taking?
– I sort of work on things by myself first, so I’ll try something when I’m not around other people and there’s no pressure in the situation. But I have to be careful cuz of food allergy stuff. While I’d like to say, “Oh, I’ll expand my diet,” I don’t really see it happening. – I’m currently seeing a counselor and a psychiatrist, and the plan right now is like, super low pressure, like my counselor is there for accountability, but she’s not gonna be like, “Oh, you didn’t eat a fruit this month, so you failed.” My assignment right now is to go to a farmer’s market and look around and find a fruit or vegetable that I think looks interesting, and to try the fruit or vegetable. And that’s it. That kind of like, low pressure, hands-off approach really works for me because it like, keeps the anxiety down, and the anxiety makes it like really hard to eat stuff. – Yes.
– I can’t see myself fully recovering either, just because I’m 21, and I’ve had this since I was 2. But I hope, I hope, that one day I can eat like, fruits and vege– like I wanna have a garden, and grow food, and eat food from my garden, and that’s basically the extent of my plans. So, if you want to see more of Noelle and learn more about…
– Eosinophilic esophagitis. – If you wanna learn about that, you can watch that video, which I will put in a box, right here. I’m always bad at ending these, so I guess I’ll just see you next time I talk about my weird eating disorder.