Saturday was a low point for me. I had my recently usual Lucky Charms for breakfast, but sort of thought I'd eat lightly in honor of it being Yom Kippur. I had a lot of moments of feeling bitter about how difficult it's been to keep functioning as usual with my random bouts or "episodes", as I've been calling them, of pretty serious indigestion and other symptoms I won't mention here. While Jews fast one day a year to remind themselves of their sins and also of the things they should be thankful about, I can only think "why me?" when I realize I've been limiting my diet in a desperate attempt to control the symptoms that were spiraling out of control. Don't get me wrong, I'm not actually feeling ill on a regular basis. Just generally crappy on-and-off, in an unpredictable, yet regular pattern. But then I had a string of at least four days last week in which I would become sick for an hour or so and then get very tired afterwards, which would last for the rest of the day.
And after eating a bagel and a lot of baked goods for breaking the fast with Avi and friends, I became really sick and miserable. I thought I might become violently ill, but I somehow got over that and ended up just going to bed early. On a Saturday night. What a sad weekend. How could I continue force-feeding myself gluten?
It's pretty amazing to realize the power of the mind. I had spent the last year telling myself that my symptoms were just the result of an irritable stomach and its close connection to my stress level. I was able to convince myself that it was my fault, but also that I could control the symptoms if I just managed my stress well enough. It did help to use relaxation and yoga and other methods, but when all was said and done, that didn't explain it fully. Nonetheless, I was able to convince myself that if I didn't spend time worrying about it and thinking about it, it would resolve itself over time.
It wasn't until I received the blood test results a few weeks ago that I was suddenly aware of the physical damage that's probably going on inside of me. Somehow, it made my feelings legitimized and real. It was simultaneously relieving and also debilitating; if I can't control the symptoms with stress management, and if I have to keep eating gluten, I'm actually feeling sick for real reasons... and there's nothing I can do about it.
Rather than feeling depressed about it, I'm trying to become empowered. I realized that although I need to follow the doctor's orders, there was no reason to keep making myself miserable. I can decide how much gluten I choose to have, and it's time to start making changes, even if they're subtle for now.