My entire life, I've been tired. As a child, I didn't know what it meant to be "hyper." I was always the one who wanted to play a board game instead of freeze tag on a sunny day. It didn't make sense, it's just the way it was.
When I started to get older, I would get this burning sensation in my chest and throat. I told my dad when I was 13, but he said, "Oh you're too young to have indigestion," as if he was the CEO of a health insurance company.
Then high school started and I was taking a health class. The first thing we learned about was high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil and why they were so bad. I cut out artificial ingredients although I was still tired and my chest was still burning. But this sparked a hunger in me to learn more. Before I knew it, I was vegan and my energy level sky rocketed. All of my friends were soon experts about why they should be vegan. I loved my new way of peacefully co-existing with the earth, but my acne still wasn't under control, my energy would crash at weird times of the day, secretly binging on Pillsbury cookie dough was becoming the norm, and my unidentified throat burning was getting worse.
I stuck to the vegan way of life throughout high school. After I graduated, I decided to stay home and go the the local community college. I was absolutely miserable, but it was one of the best decisions of my life. Being so miserable yanked all of my problems right to the surface and shoved them in my face, forcing me to figure out what was wrong. I started to gain weight, I became aware of my irregularity, my throat was burning on a daily basis, acne was dropping bombs on my face after I went off the pill, sugar cravings were out of control, and I forgot what it felt like to enjoy an entire day. But I was vegan and this wasn't supposed to be happening.
After moving to Washington, I ate meat for the first time in years. It was awesome, but all my problems got infinitely worse. I finally figured out that the mysterious burning was acid reflux. I tried every simple solution I could find, but nothing really seemed to cure my life long problem. I was starting to see a pattern, though. Whenever I researched the issues that I had, one of the possible solutions was going gluten free. Every single one.
Slowly, but surely, I started to accept this as my fate. I would try to go gluten free, just for a week, but would fall off the wagon on the first day. I would start to feel really awful and try again, but the same thing would happen over and over again. I just couldn't handle not eating pasta and bread and crackers. I couldn't mentally handle it.
And then, in an early morning haze, I accepted that if I kept eating gluten, I would feel awful forever. It was slowly killing me and keeping me from the things I love. Deep down, I knew that this was the root of all my problems and I wanted to change. I wanted to be a healthy, happy, vibrant human being full of love.
But to be able to truly love my fellow human beings, I have to be able to love myself enough to do this. And so, after a lifetime of upset stomachs and opting out of freeze tag, I am free. Gluten free.