May is Celiac Disease Month.
Celiac disease has over 300 symptoms and they aren’t all digestive-related. Symptoms can include depression, anxiety, and brain fog. Even once diagnosed and off the gluten, some mental health issues can continue.
Society, in the US, at least revolves around food.
You may not notice it when you can eat everything but once you have to remove a food due to celiac disease or an allergy, it’s obvious. We celebrate all events with food. We bring donuts or bagels to office meetings. We meet friends for dinner out.
When you have celiac disease it’s hard to go to these events. People expect you to eat. You can’t join in and you may have to explain over and over why you aren’t eating. And when people tell you their homemade item is gluten-free so you can eat it, you question it. Did they prep it correctly? Did they use a wooden spoon?
The struggle is real.
If you didn’t have anxiety before, you will probably develop it when trying to eat out! In the past few years, it has gotten easier to eat out as more and more places and people “get” celiac and learn what is gluten.
When first diagnosed, it can be hard. You get depressed thinking of all the foods you can no longer eat. All of the places and events you’ll miss out on. You might get depressed when friends and family don’t understand or forget that you need gluten-free.
You still worry. You still wonder if the new restaurant is safe. And what happens when old reliable glutens you? Can you ever go back? Can you trust them again? Anxiety kicks into high gear. Will it ever get easier? Then you start to worry, what if the waitstaff or chef doesn’t take me seriously? Because you’ve read the articles that chefs don’t always take the necessary precautions when they get allergy or celiac orders because that one guy last week said he was allergic then drank a beer.
But you suck it up because you know you can’t eat every meal at home. Well, you could but that would be boring and you’d never get to travel. You start to learn places that are safe. You start finding friends that will go out of their way to make sure you have something to eat.
You may never fully shake the anxiety of eating food you didn’t prepare but it does get better.
May is also mental health awareness month. Serendipity.