You are stuck in bed, with absolutely no energy to do anything. Your stomach is in knots and it feels like you’ve just eaten a bowl of nails. You cannot think straight because your brain is filled with fog. Your body is achy because it is busy working over time to fight this foreign substance known as “gluten.” You have a rash on your body and dark circles under your eyes. You are so bloated you look like you are 3 months pregnant. You look like you haven’t slept in days. And most of all you feel like a big pile of crap.
You know that all over achy feeling you get when you have the flu? The feeling you get when you are extremely drained from pulling an all nighter? Yes. I know you all know what I am talking about. Imagine feeling like that for an entire week (or longer). Coffee won’t help you, medicine can’t fix it, sleeping does not rejuvenate you, nothing will save you.
I think it is safe to say that anyone who suffers from Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance knows how awful it is to be “glutened.” For those of you that are unfamiliar with what being glutened is, as defined by UrbanDictionary, it is when someone who has celiac disease, or is living a gluten free lifestyle, accidentally consumes any substance containing enough gluten to make them ill. Now this type of ‘ill’ mentioned isn’t just a little head cold that clears up in a couple of days. It is equivalent to having the full fledged flu (plus a little more) for an entire week or two.
Now for those of you that are thinking “everybody gets the flu, what’s the big deal? You aren’t special, stop whining.” I’m going to stop you right there. I’m sure that when you DO have the flu nobody is telling you to stop whining, in fact, people are probably sympathetic towards you. You probably call off of work, skip school and stay home all day and people tell you to “get well soon” and say “hope you feel better” and genuinely mean it because you look and sound sick.
Now why is it that when I’m sick and I tell someone “I feel awful, I’m so sick” after being glutened they look at me and say, “but you don’t look sick” and “oh a little bit of gluten couldn’t have affected you THAT much, you’re fine” it is really emotionally painful. Not only am I suffering physically, I am now dealing with people straight up dismissing my feelings, something I could never do to anyone else. And no, I am not dramatic, I am real.
Why is it that we live in a society that can easily accept sickness when they are familiar with it but are so quick to disregard a sickness that doesn’t appear to be authentic just because of lack of general knowledge. You will NEVER understand what it is like to live with a chronic invisible illness unless you have one. This is true, because before my Celiac journey if you were to tell me how much of a struggle it is to be sick when you look perfectly fine, I wouldn’t believe you either.
The point I am trying to make here is this: being glutened is physically exhausting and emotionally draining. You are juggling a lot of pain and frustration and you feel like you are going to die at any minute.