Tyler James Williams opened up about the health struggles he dealt with before being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in his early 20s.
During an interview with Men’s Health, which was published earlier this month, the Abbott Elementary star, 30, recalled his attempts to build up muscle at the gym. Williams noted that he overdid it by hiring trainers, doing weight-training and force-feeding himself.
After ending up with horrible stomach pain, the actor wasn’t able to keep any food in his system. “I was really pushing my body to the limit,” he explained, adding that he weighed 130 pounds at the time. “By the time December hit, it just crashed. Everything shut down.”
Williams was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease after visiting a gastroenterologist in New York City. His X-rays alerted medical professionals that he had inflamed bowels which were clogged with scar tissue.
According to Mayo Clinic, Crohn’s disease is “a type of inflammatory bowel disease” that causes swelling of the tissues in your digestive tract. This can lead to “abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.”
The disease, which has no known cure, can be “both painful and debilitating” and sometimes may lead to “life-threatening” complications. Crohn’s can be treated with various therapies which can reduce its signs and symptoms. Treatment may also help bring long-term remission and healing of inflammation to patients.
For Williams, his visit to the doctor resulted in him being rushed into emergency surgery to remove six inches of his lower intestine. Following the flare-up, the New York native revealed he went into septic shock after his intestines were unable to heal back together.
“The last thought I had was, ‘This could be it. If this is it, I’m not happy. I worked a lot. I did a lot of things. I didn’t enjoy any of this. This can’t be it,'” he recalled to the outlet, noting he had to go through more surgery.
Following the health scare, the former child star spent several months on an intravenous feeding system. Williams ultimately ended up weighing 105 pounds and couldn’t stand up to walk.
“I had to learn how to stop making a dramatic change happen really quickly and learn how to have a better relationship with my body,” he detailed. “The important thing for me, and those like me, to remember is that longevity is a big part of the game. If you can’t [stay strong] and be healthy, there really is no point.”
The Everybody Hates Chris alum discussed how his brother Tyrel Williams was diagnosed with Crohn’s as well. The siblings have since shifted their focus to a healthier lifestyle — which includes no alcohol, coffee or red meat.
Tyler also noted that the health scare caused him to look for more “purpose-driven” roles in his career — such as Abbott Elementary‘s Gregory Eddie. “[He] wants to be in this position of power ’cause he feels like that’s what he needs to be successful but then finds out that that’s not his life,” he explained. “I was like, ‘That sounds like the very journey I had to come to.’”
Earlier this month, the Saturday Night Live alum reflected on his personal experience, writing via Instagram, “This one is for the Crohns Patients, the ‘hard gainers’, the skinny kids, and those thriving while fighting invisible illnesses. May we all continue to learn how to listen our bodies and treat them better. Thank you to @menshealthmag for the feature and chronicling my journey thus far.”