What Going Gluten Free Did For Me

Have I ever told you why I chose a humor theme for my blog? It wasn’t because I think I’m funny. It was because I tend toward depression, and I knew that whatever theme I chose, I would end up writing about the most depressing aspect of it. Music? Buddy Holly. Adagio for Strings. Christianity? How frustrating it is that we don’t represent Jesus well. How some communion wafers taste like poison. Cute puppies? Parvo. Puppy mills.

But if I stuck with humor, I’d have to keep it light, no matter the topic of the day.

I have heard a lot of people say that happiness is a choice, but let me tell you how that worked for me. I could choose to act happy. I could choose to believe God’s word even though my emotions never seemed to go along with the “I’m going to heaven, and I can make a difference in the world” part of the message, but always with the “this world is full of suffering and not all my friends know about Jesus” part of the message. I did have some choice in the matter, but let me tell you, I could not choose to feel happy. I tried.

Then, last year, I developed some kind of itchy skin condition in my ear that kept progressing to swimmer’s ear. For eleven months, I couldn’t sleep or concentrate on anything except how much my ears itched. My doctor and ENT prescribed drops, creams, you name it, but it kept coming back. I tried crazy concoctions that crazy internet people recommended. If they had sworn by cat urine, I would have followed my cat around with a little jar. I was desperate. Finally, I told my doctor, in an email, that I would rather be dead.

Okay, that doesn’t sound funny, but it kind of is, because while I knew very well that I would never commit suicide, my doctor could legally not let me leave his office the next time I went in, because of my mental state. I tried to convince him that it was my ears that needed fixing, not my depression, but he tried to set me up with an emergency psychiatric appointment. Well, thank the Lord that I was not truly suicidal, because THEY DIDN’T HAVE ONE! Anyway, he let me off the hook with only an appointment with a counselor later in the day. (I skipped it, ha!) And as I was about to leave the office, I was like hey, we kind of forgot about my ears. He called a dermatologist, who prescribed Elidel cream over the phone, and bam, my eleven months of suffering was over.

I digress. About a week before that appointment, I cut out gluten because several friends had suggested my ear problem might be a gluten allergy. It wasn’t, but on my third gluten free day I woke up feeling like a fog had cleared. In the last three months, I have only felt depressed maybe three half-days. Two things make me feel sure that eliminating gluten was my cure. One, I was not expecting a change in my mood and in fact thought that people who recommended gluten free diets were kind of nuts, so I’m sure it was not all in my head, and two, I, former pasta salad and sub sandwich glutton, have not been tempted for one second to eat gluten since. (Okay, I was tempted for one second. I ate a Milano cookie, and it tasted like playdough to me.)

I considered titling this “The Funny Thing About Depression,” but I didn’t want anyone to think that I was not sympathetic to them. I know that many people suffer with much worse depression than I had, and I know that not everyone’s depression is solved by eliminating gluten, but I hope that this might help even one person who can be helped by going gluten free, or that I at least made you laugh one time to brighten your day.

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