Fighting Relapse

It’s been about two weeks that I’ve been gluten-free – or at least attempted to be. At first, my diagnosis of Celiac Disease was a relief, but now it’s a reality and more than ever I need to fight relapse from my eating disorder.

Also when I received the diagnosis, I was in the midst of becoming an intuitive eater. What’s that? According to Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, authors of Intuitive Eating:  A Revolutionary Program that Works, “Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body. You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.   It’s also a process of making peace with food—so that you no longer have constant ‘food worry’ thoughts. It’s knowing that your health and your worth as a person do not change, because you ate a food that you had labeled as ‘bad’ or ‘fattening.'”

I bought the book after hearing about this amazing concept, not diet, and started to go through the steps. I was getting good at it! I was eating what I wanted WHEN I wanted. I felt great. I had overcome and recovered from anorexia AND orthorexia, now I was an intuitive eater. I was kicking my eating disorders’ ass! I even coach others through my job’s employee assistance program to become intuitive eaters as well! I have two clients so far and so far they’ve reported doing well.

But then this diagnosis came along… It’s been MUCH harder to eat WHAT I want… There are some alternatives to my favorite foods, like pizza, frozen yogurt, bread. The pizza is disgusting and the bread will take some getting used to.

The symptoms I’ve been experiencing have gotten worse too — not sure if it’s the process of going gluten free or if I’m already more sensitive to gluten than if even a little bit is in some foods I’m getting sick. The symptoms I’ve experienced that are heightened include:

  • Brain Fog
  • Bloat and stomach pain
  • Gassiness
  • Fatigue (it’s been much harder to get out of bed…)
  • Anxiety
  • Shakiness
  • Weakness

I’ve had these symptoms for a few months now, but they’ve gotten worse over the past couple weeks.

Another concern is relapse. I sought out a new psychiatrist, mainly because the one I’ve been seeing since I was 12 wasn’t working for me and I didn’t feel like he really listened. So, I actually went to a Board-certified advanced practice psychiatric nurse practitioner recently and truly felt like I was heard. Meeting with him was when I truly realized the possibility for relapse. He recommended I see a psychologist there that sees patients with eating disorders. And I agreed. I also agreed to see a nutritionist who can help me go through the process of being totally gluten free.

That was another moment of relief. I don’t need to go through all this on my own. I have GREAT support from family and friends, but it’ll be even better with professional support.

I have been an advocate and spokesperson for eating disorder recovery and prevention for years now. I can’t let myself slip back down the hole — it’s not just for me, but for the others I advocate for. I’m not super human and I need to take care of my physical and mental health.

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Maybe I will relapse, though I will fight to prevent that from happening. But, if it does happen I’ll have people there by my side.

I spoke with a friend from college the other day who was going through relapse to her eating disorder. Talking to her too made me realize that it is real. Relapse CAN happen. But, she is proactive. She reached out to me to talk and see if I can offer advice as to what I do and sought professional help as well. Talking to that great friend gave me the courage to seek help myself. We were both going through some transitions that have sparked a possible relapse to our past eating disorders — I am SO glad she reached out to me when she did, because it not only put her mind at ease but mine as well. THANK YOU, friend. You know who you are. 🙂

As always, I’ll keep this blog up to date with my road to recovery.

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Just Another Obstacle on the Road to Recovery

I just received a call from my doctor on some lab testing I had done last week. I tested positive for Celiac Disease…. It’s something I’ve thought I may have for years, but didn’t want to face it. Don’t know what Celieac Disease is? Well here, let me quickly educate you!

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, “Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.  It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.  2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.

When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.

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Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.”

My sister was just recently diagnosed with Celiac too, so my risk was pretty high already!

Long-Term Health Effects

Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems. These include the development of other autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS), dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash), anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature, and intestinal cancers.

Well I definitely got the short stature part, standing at a mere 4’11”!

There are two steps to finding out if you have celiac disease: screening and diagnosis. I’ve had the blood test done, now I just need to meet with my doctor to see what the next steps are…

Just Another Bump in the Road

As you all, at least those who’ve been following my blog or even just on Facebook, know, I have a history of two eating disorders: Anorexia and Orthorexia. So, having Celiac is going to be hard for me to avoid triggers – but I know I can do it!

Through my eating disorders over the past 15 years or so, I’ve gone from restricting calories and basic nutrition to my body to restricting taste and foods that I love. Now, I have to go back to restricting foods that I love, bread, pasta, bagels, GLUTEN, due to the autoimmune disease… Of course the reasoning for the restriction is totally different, but to my mind it almost feels the same.

BUT, I’m a fighter, a survivor, and this disease is just another bump in the road on my journey through recovery, through life.

I’ve always been one of those people who thrive on chaos, big deadlines, and stressful situations. Heck, I wanted to be a journalist for the longest time – even went to college for it! I love staying busy – challenges make me happy. So, I see this as another challenge. And yet another disease that I can speak on and shed light on/bring awareness too.

I think going gluten free will also help me in competing in marathons and triathlons! I’ve always had terrible stomach issues, especially when competing. Hopefully dealing with this disease the right way will improve my performance as well!

More Stigma to Erase

Also, this gives me another disease to break stigma on! I hear A LOT of people going gluten free for diet, weight-loss purposes… So, when people hear about others going gluten-free, there’s a stigma that they’re doing it as a fad diet, the weight-loss purposes. Not many people know what Celiac Disease is, just like most people don’t understand mental illness like eating disorders.

 

I see my doctor next week to find out the next steps. I’ll share more on my journey of becoming gluten free whilst also avoiding triggering myself of my eating disorders.