Gluten Anxiety

I suffer from gluten anxiety—not all the time, but sometimes.

It usually starts when I’m going through transitions in life, in that delicate space between fears of the past and uncertainty about the future.

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As much as I wish I wasn’t, I’m still recovering from years of gluten-induced sickness.

In my darker moments, I resent the years stolen from me and am terrified by the feeling that it could happen again.

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So, I get anxious.

I worry about hidden gluten in everything. I worry that EVIL GLUTEN will take away my joy and my purpose and my health…

Again.

Thankfully, my darker moments don’t haunt me the way they used to. After eight years of being (relatively) healthy, I’m feeling more and more confident that I will be okay.

When I was in school, I studied something called learned helplessness, a concept that explains how one may begin to feel powerless or out-of-control when subjected to random and/or unavoidable adversity over a period of time. This feeling of powerlessness occurs even when one may have the ability to change a situation and often results in poor decision-making and a cycle of negative feelings and behaviors.

But I also learned about something called resilience.

Resilience is when one actually gets stronger after being subjected to adversity.

It allows one to experience “post-traumatic growth.”

According to Martin Seligman, a leading researcher in learned helplessness and resilience, there are five known factors that encourage this growth to happen:

  1. “Understanding the response to trauma (read “failure”), which includes shattered beliefs about the self, others, and the future. This is a normal response, not a symptom of PTSD or a character defect.

  2. Reducing anxiety through techniques for controlling intrusive thoughts and images.

  3. Engaging in constructive self-disclosure.

  4. Creating a narrative in which the trauma is seen as a fork in the road that enhances the appreciation of paradox—loss and gain, grief and gratitude, vulnerability and strength…[It] specifies what personal strengths were called upon, how some relationships improved, how spiritual life strengthened, how life itself was better appreciated, or what new doors opened.

  5. Articulating life principles. These encompass new ways to be altruistic, crafting a new identity, and taking seriously the idea of the Greek hero who returns from Hades to tell the world an important truth about how to live.”

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This blog is my narrative.

It’s my attempt at post-traumatic growth.

It’s the documentation of my choice to be resilient.

Even when the gluten anxiety comes back.

Especially when it comes back.

 

You, too, have the power to choose resiliency.

I am interested in starting a new series that features YOU! As I’ve mentioned (repeatedly), this blog is not just about my experience living gluten-free. There is no way I would be able to provide a comprehensive gluten-free resource without including your experiences as well.

Ideally, I’d like to feature a reader’s gluten-free story each week, with answers to basic questions like:

  • How long have you been living gluten-free?
  • What is your favorite GF resource?
  • What is your best tip for a gluten-free newbie?
  • What’s a question you are still struggling to answer about living gluten-free?
  • What surprised you the most about living gluten-free?

Over time, we should be able to build a great resource for folks living gluten-free.  Email me if you’re interested in being featured!

4 Comments

  • Dick says:

    Gluten free since early 90’s so close 25 years or so. So much easier now than in the beginning. It’s amazing the changes.

    • Beth says:

      Wow! I can’t even imagine how tough it was to eat gluten-free back then. I would love to hear more about your story!

  • Larry says:

    I have been on a gluten-free diet for four years now. Prior to my diagnosis I did not have many intestinal symptoms. I did have a rash on my lower leg that just would not go away. Once on the diet it disappeared never to return. I was diagnosed by accident. After going through many tests for an unrelated abdominal tumor my gastroenterologist gave me the diagnosis. I have been on “the” diet ever since. My wife is great. She is knowledgeable on how to keep me from being contaminated. In fact I have never had a problem at home, only in restaurants. For example, I was eating some very tasty broccoli when a table mate asked the waitress how they made it so good. She replied, “Oh, we just cook them in our pasta water.” Needless to say I was contaminated. Then, after having been on the diet, did my intestinal symptoms began to appear. I can now very easily tell when I have been contaminated.
    My best tip to “newbies” is to concentrate on all the things you CAN eat, and don’t dwell on those things that make you sick. I have never “cheated.” I can always find something to eat. If you saw me you would say I didn’t miss many meals. Life is great and getting better all the time for this nearly seventy year old.

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