Today marks two different types of celebrations that offend others in the ol' US of A. Columbus day & National Coming Out day. As someone who is of Muskogee ancestry I could give a hoot about Columbus as he represents all that is wrong with the way "America" began. As for NCOD, I honor it because I've been an out bisexual for over half my life and it's a journey I believe in for all LGBTQ folks who want to simply be who they are.
Today though I need to address something else in my life that has over the years become a part of me, as key as my citizen status or whom I happen to love. I am coming out after finally discovering over and over, that I am gluten sensitive.
I know this is not something that sounds like a big deal but for me this aspect of my life bears as mush weight as anything. This sensitivity has made my life more challenging than I can describe because being sensitive to gluten is as cunning as institutionalized racism and as baffling as an alcoholic who continues to drink.
When I was younger I suffered from severe depression. Who as a teen doesn't have mood swings and hard times? Add to that- budding addiction, family dysfunction and not knowing how to cope with being a queer woman of color and you get a kid with issues. If it wasn't for my BFF Heather, a first love in senior year of high school, and some supportive counselors I don't think I would be alive today. That depression I had I believe today was fueled by another factor as well. My sensitivity to gluten I think added to my mood swings, poor health & depression. And though my life is a miracle today I have to admit I am still struggling with this challenge.
This weekend I ate some delicious gluten filled foods and was left today feeling utterly unable to cope with life. Last week after feeling unwell I eliminated my gluten intake and after a few days felt great physically and mentally. I felt freer to love, to dance and to be myself. I knew that with one foot in front of the next I could, with gods guidance do whatever life needed me to do. Yet today I woke up and turned off my alarm clock off and went back to bed knowing I would likely miss my favorite class. And I did.
The interesting thing is when I went back to bed I had a dream that I feel is significant. In the dream I lived in a funky house with many add-on rooms. In a back room I found this very cute grey dog that was some cute mutt. It looked like it had been cared for in the past but was abandoned & needed someone to care for it. I had gone off to do something else in the house with the intention of coming back for it. A few days went by and when I went back into the room the dog was still there but I realized I had completely forgotten about it. I couldn't believe I could do such a thing and vowed to take care of it.
Ironically I awoke to our dog Angel next to me in bed needing to go potty. I took her out and felt utterly listless and depressed. My mind reeled trying to figure out why I felt like this when my life, though has its stresses, is pretty darn good. I noticed too that my throat felt sore and my right lymph node was swollen. These physical symptoms commonly happen when I've had a big gluten indulgence and so I knew I had had too much this weekend. Suddenly I remembered the little dog in my dream and realized the bleak feeling was not random. A google search later affirmed my new revelation. Gluten makes me depressed. Like the dog in my dream there is this part of me I keep neglecting and it's making me literally sad.
How many times in my life have I had gluten activated depression? Many I'm sure. I know this is not the answer to every occurrence but I'm pretty sure now that gluten has contributed to many of my difficult days. For a few years I've known that there is a direct correlation between my physical well being & my gluten intake but now I get that I'm affected mentally as well.
Today I am taking a first step and admitting I have a problem with avoiding gluten and it's making my life unmanageable. Fo' reals!
For now the answer is acceptance. Today I know a little more about myself than I did yesterday. Luckily I have therapy today I can talk to someone and hopefully get some suggestions. This discovery is a blessing (I can still see that through the gluten filled haze) and I have the knowledge that though there are no quick fixes, there are options for a healthier, happier life. Today as part of the process to healing this part of my life I'm being honest about how I feel and where I'm at so that I can be more accountable for my actions and reactions.
I love gluten filled foods. I feel quite frankly addicted to them. But those pancakes, pizzas, doughnuts and sandwiches are making me crazy. And I love the freedom I have when I'm not feeling forlorn and ill. Freedom is not about doing and eating everything I want. Freedom is about taking steps to be my truest and happiest self. That little grey dog inside me needs my love. I'm gonna do my best to take care of it.
This video and song I think are a perfect way to celebrate this new understanding. May it inspire all of you to love the little orphan animals inside!