Yet another great post from Eileen over at Phoenix Helix for you today. I almost cried with recognition at some of this!
It can be a really lonely business being ill – especially when you look so well on the surface! – and it is even worse if your nearest and dearest – and that includes work colleagues – just don’t understand you are having to follow a diet to help yourself heal.
I really recognised a lot of this, not because my loved ones don’t care – of course they do – but as someone says in the comments below, people equate diet with weight loss and medical diets are a really hard sell unless people have heard of the condition you have, like diabetes. No-one would dream of offering a diabetic a cake, but they will offer you stuff that ‘won’t hurt you’ until they get it. They just don’t understand it and why should they; it’s not what they see on the telly or the mainstream view. I always think thank goodness they don’t have to understand it, but that doesn’t make it any less hard when they do some of the things Eileen and the commenters talk about here:
- Feeling threatened by your diet as it makes them feel inadequate or making wrong choices in some way
- Having a fabulously unhealthy but tasty-looking and delicious-smelling diet right in front of you, full of all the things you miss or just would love to taste again. You try really hard not to feel bitter and to swallow your upset because you don’t want to make them feel guilty or awkward, or importantly, impose any restriction on them; there’s already enough of that around with you! Isn’t it hard, though? P has never followed my diet since about wheat and dairy free and he eats and drinks whatever he wants. I don’t think I would wish anything other than that for him, but blimey I can see how not being faced with such goodies, let alone cross-contamination risk, would make you heal that much faster – as Terry Wahl’s research seems to be bearing out. I think the reduction in stress there would have to be a major factor.
- Only believing you when you lose a load of weight! Truly, quite a few people I know only accepted there was something wrong when I dropped a lot of weight. However, some of those same people were delighted for me that my ‘silly’ diet had worked – ie. made me lose weight! Rather than lose them as friends, I delighted along with them. They only ‘got it’ when I was almost a size 6 in the pre-plaintain chips days a few months ago, thank goodness for those!
Another couple of points resonated particularly with me too:
- Being honest about foods you really can’t take having in the house because it’s just too darn hard. I hooted at this. It is curry for me. I recall whenever the boys used to come and they’d all get a takeaway, I used to sob upstairs and the smell of it drove me mad in the house for about 3 days. I had to ask them to go out – missing out on a restaurant treat with my family was better even than dealing with the smell, which just goes to show how powerful smell is, doesn’t it?! It is no coincidence that it is the spices I am getting back in first as I heal..!
- Losing friends or a social life because every flippin thing seems to revolve around food. Even if you go to the theatre, everyone’s having interval drinks or an ice-cream, which you have to ignore and try not to feel like a spare part, smiling away through your inner tears. At the cinema, there’s no escaping the delicious popcorn smell. At local fetes and fairs, you’re surrounded by food and drink stalls. Of course, there are ways and means to get around some of this but, actually let’s just be honest for a minute: it hurts, doesn’t it? As much as we use our coping strategies and our inner strength, sometimes you just want what everyone else is having. Of course you know what’ll happen if you did and we know that’s not worth it, but still…aargh!!!
Anyway, I could witter on all night. Do read the full piece. The saddest part I thought was the commenter who said her husband chose to be an ex instead of adapting to her dietary needs. How sad is that? She is so positive and resolute about it but it must have hurt. My heart goes out to her and to all of you – and our loved ones – dealing with it. We have to be tough cookies. Darn, shouldn’t have mentioned the c-word..!
I know this is a bit negative, by the way, and I am trying to be relentlessly positive on the blog because research shows it helps us heal, BUT the reason I’ve allowed this is because sometimes it is best to face up and admit it’s all a right royal pain in a**e. Then, accept it is what it is for now – it’s temporary and it will get better. Breathe, meditate, get up and carry on.
Again: it will get better but it’s flippin horrible sometimes until it does, and that’s the truth, so there!