'Abbott Elementary' star Tyler James Williams shares scary health ordeal: 'Everything shut down'

Tyler James Williams says Crohn's disease encouraged him to build a better relationship with his body. (Photo by Momodu Mansaray/Getty Images)
Tyler James Williams says Crohn's disease encouraged him to build a better relationship with his body. (Photo by Momodu Mansaray/Getty Images)

Everybody loves Tyler James Williams.

In an interview with Men's Health magazine, the Abbott Elementary star shared how he went from high school misfit to substitute teacher heartthrob and the scary diagnosis that almost ended his life.

"I was trying to read for roles that were my age and I couldn't get out of high school," said Williams of the typecasting that followed him well after his stint on Everybody Hates Chris.

This led Williams to go to extremes in efforts to change his physique and look the part for more adult roles.

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During this period, Williams said he was lifting heavy and "really pushing my body to the limit."

Williams, who was 24 at the time, said everything reached a fever pitch in late 2017.

"By the time December hit, it just crashed. Everything shut down," he said.

Williams began to experience intense stomach pain and could not keep anything down, prompting him to go to the hospital.

In lieu of a colonoscopy, as he was unable to keep the prep down, Williams received an X-ray which revealed the source of his seemingly sudden sickness — Crohn's disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Crohn's is a potentially life-threatening inflammatory bowel disease that causes swelling of the tissues in the digestive tract and often causes abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.

Following the diagnosis, Williams was rushed into emergency surgery, where 6 inches of lower intestine had to be removed.

Unfortunately, his intestines were already in such bad shape they perforated, causing him to go into septic shock.

He recalls feeling his entire body vibrate after going septic and was overcome with feelings of fear and unfulfillment.

"The last thought I had was, 'Holy s***, 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 said.

Thankfully, he recovered, and following a hard-fought battle marked by intravenous feedings and an ostomy bag, just five years later, Williams is feeling better than ever. He credits the intense situation for helping him reevaluate his priorities and career goals.

"When I woke up and eventually got back to [being] myself, it was like, 'What would make it not suck?'" he said.

This made his role as Abbott Elementary's Gregory Eddie, who "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," all the more fitting.

"I was like, 'That sounds like the very journey I had to come to,'" he explained.

Now, Williams is working on managing his Crohn's in a sustainable way and developing a healthy relationship with his body.

"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 said. "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."

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