I'll admit there have been many times where I've struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel when dealing with my disorders. I would sometimes think there is no end to this road and I'll never get better. A lot of the times it may seem like through what I write that I'm a super positive guy and that I never get negative about even the worst situations. Although I am pretty positive about most things, to say that would be crazy! I am human, I do have those days where I think, "Why me?" I do wish sometimes that I was normal. But the fact is that it's ok to have those thoughts. It might even be true to say that it's healthy! One of the things I will say is that it's much worse to lie to yourself and tell yourself that you're happy with having Celiac or any other disorder then to realize that you're not normal and accept it for what it is. That's something I've learned early on..probably a lot earlier than most people.
How I coped at first:
Everyone deals with getting diagnosed with Celiac Disease in their own way. Some people think they can never eat food again and mourn gluten. Some people get angry about it and choose not to accept it. Then some people just learn to accept it for what it is and take it head on. For me I was definitely the 3rd choice. I honestly can't say that I was really upset or devastated after getting diagnosed like most teens would be. I actually took the gluten-free diet on as a challenge and as something for me to constantly push myself to get better at. I'll admit, going gluten-free at age 13 was not easy as a teenager but I did learn to cope with it in my own way. I personally decided to learn how to bake and cook gluten-free which is something I ended up loving. Researching and just becoming interested in Celiac Disease in general was also something I learned to love too! I really was just fascinated with everything about it and I knew the more I learned the better I could get. I've never really found eating gluten-free to be that big of an issue. Obviously eating out away from home is the hardest but other than that I have enjoyed eating gluten-free and how it makes me feel unlike some people. Not everyone can have that mindset though. I only had bread for around 10 years...some of you may have had bread your whole life which can make it a lot harder.
Dealing with low points:
For me the only time I really get negative or upset about being gluten-free is when I actually get glutened. I can't stand getting sick from cross contamination even though I am doing every little thing right! You can only go so far to keep yourself safe from gluten, but this is definitely the thing I hate most while being gluten-free. When I am at my low points though from eating gluten, there are some things that I always try and think about.
- I tell myself that tomorrow is another day to always get better while being gluten-free. If you get better at it, you will feel better too!
- I know each day is only as hard as you make it on yourself. If you react to being gluten-free in a negative way, you are only going to have a negative day.
- I always think that there are far worse things I could be dealing with, but I can treat my disease with something as simple as my diet!
- I think of all the foods I can still eat that are gluten-free and be happy that I at least don't have to give up those.
- I realize that being gluten-free is not easy to deal with but that's why we have family, friends, or the gluten-free community to help make it easier.
Accepting living gluten-free:
Now I could easily give you a whole spiel about why you should just accept being gluten-free and make it sound MUCH easier than it is, but I know that's not going to do you any good. The fact is having to worry about cross contamination when you eat out does suck. Not having food when you're at an event or your over at someone's house isn't fair. Having to check every single label on everything you buy is not fun either. But the fact is with Celiac Disease we don't have a choice. It's either avoid gluten and be safe or suffer the consequences which we all know.
Being gluten-free is not easy and it's very reasonable to realize and accept that. The thing is if we spend our time mourning the food we can't have any more and get upset each day about it, how do you ever expect to be happy with the food you are eating in the first place? Honestly it does just take time to move on and realize there are a lot of foods out there we can eat. It just all comes in time and I'll admit it took about 2 years to finally get the hang of it. Everyone is different and like Celiac and the Beast says, my celiac isn't your celiac. We all deal with it differently and it's important that we find a way to deal with it in our own way.
My advice to help:
There is a lot of advice I could give as a teenager to make it easier on you. If you are really missing a certain food that is not gluten-free, try and find a gluten-free version of it to treat yourself too! It makes those hard times when you miss gluten a lot better. I would also really recommend looking for sites online to help cope. I always try my best to be a positive influence and I always try to inspire others as a teenager to make living gluten-free easier. My biggest goal is to help you and that's the whole reason I created my blog! If you have a question, need someone to talk to, or just need some advice, I'm always here to help. Also just having someone to talk to and relate to about these things can make a world of difference. I luckily have my mom and girlfriend who are both gluten-free and make life a lot easier. It's a little harder to find someone who may be gluten-free as well but if you can I know it will help. Even connecting with someone online through the gluten-free community can help you feel not alone. Don't try and take gluten-free living on your own, it's a lot harder that way and you will only make it harder on yourself.
Out of all the advice I can give I would probably say this. Try and think positively about the situation you are in! There are many more things you could be dealing with but the fact is you can treat illness with your diet. Eating gluten-free is hard...but because of it you can finally feel healthy and get back to feeling normal again. Sure you can get upset every once in a while about it because it truly is hard to deal with! But sometimes dealing with being gluten-free or with other illnesses is only as hard as you make it on yourself. If you choose to be upset all the time and get discouraged about your situation, you'll never be happy. But if you choose to accept your situation and make the most of what you have, then you can find a way to be happy no matter what the situation is. I'm not saying it's an easy thing to do. Trust me it's easier said than done. But it is something we can all try and something I do throughout my day to day life. I don't live a normal life, I can't go to school, I can't play sports, but I always choose to have a positive outlook on the days ahead because I know my illnesses won't control my future...I will. A positive mindset and the right support is all you need to get through living gluten-free. Get support from someone you can relate to, know that eating gluten-free is not the end of the world. But most of all never cheat. If you do those things then I promise it will get easier in time and the struggles will fade as well. Don't let Celiac Disease control your life. Control your own life and make the most of what you have each day because that's all that really matters in the end.