My mind on gluten is a trap on a hair trigger. Yesterday, I got caught.
The day started off fine. Sure, I had my bad tummy and stiff hands in the morning, but I got up anyway and got on with things. Our office is in desperate need of furniture and a grant that will pay for it came through, so I had the happy plan of a shopping date with my sweetie. I measured the office and drew out a plan.TinyHands started taking down the Christmas tree. Well, when cleaning up the tree mess we noticed the bottom of the blanket that hides our hideous fireplace was soaked! The chimney is not capped and the flashing is no longer water tight, so water had come down. We had to uncover the fireplace and face the disaster. I was still doing pretty well. I left messages with three repair companies, said a little prayer that insurance would cover it, and set to tidying up the living room.
And here started my troubles. All the stuff I’ve been managing not to look at jumped out at me. Dust on the baseboards. Fingerprints on the windows, the pad under the foot of the couch that isn’t adjusted perfectly. The library books with bookmarks sticking out at different angles. The scratch I put in the floor, the windows that were installed a bit crooked or became crooked when the house settled. The bad job done on the sheetrock. The wires from the TV and the lamps. Problems with the paint job. The way nothing is perfectly lined up with anything else.I can clean up some things. I can sweep the floor or wipe down the baseboards. But I can’t fix the windows, and our furniture will only fit in the house in certain ways. And that fireplace – I kept seeing the fireplace. Our ugly-in-the-first-place, water-damaged fireplace.
In past years I wouldn’t just see these things. They’d become a steady stream of self-hatred. Everything wrong with my house became my personal failing, proof that I should die. Over the past year I had gotten a bit better at managing this thought process and letting go of what I couldn’t fix.
But yesterday I got stuck. I didn’t fall into a suicidal spiral of defeat, but I did go into full on panic mode, and got trapped inside myself. When TinyHands asked me where to hang the light (we’d rearranged because our piano arrived this week) it was too much. The couch didn’t line up right with the piano. The light had to line up right with the couch. Commence thought loop. I need to line things up. I can’t line them up. Things are not lined up. I need to line them up. I can see the wires. The fireplace. I need to line things up…
The words couldn’t come out. I’d try to say something, but my hands would come up and smash my face, rubbing it flat over and over. I’d stutter, repeat words 20 times, have to stop. I couldn’t look at TinyHands. I’d stutter some more, half a phrase, half a word. Complete distress. I could see myself from outside, know exactly what I wanted to say, know how ridiculous my need to have everything lined up was, but it had taken me over.
Eventually, I soothed myself and started to recover. I was able to get up and go into the bedroom. I put away the clothes that were out and made the bed. I could see the top of the dresser. I’d organized it before, but stuff got piled up there over time. Kid2’s cactus that needs trellising and repotting was taking up space. Odds and ends the kids have given me, and change, and candles, and my wallet are all there, where they should not be. I don’t have anyplace else to put these things. The closet door is missing the handle. The closet has more clothes than fit in it because it is so tiny and the door falls open from the weight of things hung from it. I lay on the bed, trying not to freak out.
TinyHands came in the room and found me there. She tried to talk to me. More stuttering. Then silence. I could tell if I talked to her I would hit myself. My arm was going to jump and hit me in the face, over and over. This made me laugh at the absurdity of wanting to talk to her, having things to say, seeing her worried, but just being able to peek at her from the corner of my eyes and shake my head a little. I was so trapped. I couldn’t escape it. My right arm started jumping. It felt numb and wanted to hit me, so I held it down with the other one and it kept jumping around. She was looking so scared for me. Eventually, I sat up and sat on my hands and found a way to talk a little.
I told her, “This gluten challenge is over.”Slowly I turned back on that filter that makes it so I don’t really look at anything, so that I don’t have to see all the things that are wrong. Since it was dinner time before I was able to change my mental state and I needed to get out of the house, we went out for the two foods I knew I’d never eat again but really like – New York style pizza and a cinnamon roll. I hadn’t been eating this kind of stuff during my challenge (or in the previous year, either) because of the fresh dairy and the sugar. I’ll get my blood work tomorrow or the next day, and then this gluten challenge will be over forever, regardless of what they say. I’d like to know if my mental (and physical) problems are due to malabsorption from celiac, or from other effects – autoimmune attacks on my nervous system? Allergic reactions to food molecules? Opioid effects? I’d hoped that this challenge and the subsequent blood work would show me which of my problems were caused by gluten, how it was messing with me, and what other factors may be at play. My gluten challenge may not have been long enough to get medical answers to these questions. Maybe science doesn’t have the ability to answer these questions either way.
In any case, it’s back to GAPS Intro for me. I’ve got some healing to do.
Update February 24, 2012: I did get my celiac test results and they were negative! Obviously I have some sort of reaction, but it is not a celiac reaction that bloodwork can detect. It took me until this week to finally stop going into those terrible stuttering loops at the slightest provocation. Yes, that’s over 3 weeks since quitting gluten, after only 2 months of eating it! I’m still recovering.