What impact did undiagnosed Coeliac Disease have on my life?

The sentence “We think it might be coeliac disease, so we will run tests.” Started it all. It was a very cold winter in Stoke, and I was in my last semester of university studying film production, with a really busy few months ahead, and I had spent more time in doctors waiting rooms than actually studying and getting my sh*t together. I spent more money on prescriptions than printer credits in the library, and I was either glued to my bed, or glued to the toilet.

A few months prior to this, I was sat with another doctor who thought I was there for antidepressants. I had spent about 2 years with anemia, and my vitamin B12 had been low and I had to have frequent injections for a long time. I was extremely tired, and physically couldn’t get out of bed until I had about 16 hours sleep at least. My boyfriend called me a ‘sloth in a people’s body’ – This is also how The Coeliac Sloth came about! I couldn’t find out what was wrong with me, and I was doing everything right by doctors orders.

It was upsetting because I felt like I needed extra time on my work, but there was no evidence for me to show that I needed it. I missed out on so many social events, film shoots and I did get depressed because of it. I couldn’t focus on ANY work at all because of all the brain fog. I hated my body because it let me down. My doctor made me fill out a sheet to say how sad I was, and offered me antidepressants. I left the surgery with absolutely zero progress, because I didn’t WANT antidepressants, I wanted an explanation as to why my body wasn’t functioning properly.

Anyway, back to the day that started the ball rolling on my Coeliac diagnosis. I did a bit of googling and researching as to what Coeliac Disease was. It made so much sense when I did. It felt like a weight was being lifted off my shoulders, I cried happy tears on the bus and rang my mum to tell her.

The main symptoms I identified with were:

Vitamin Deficiencies

Low mood/depression

Brain Fog

Bowel problems

Gastro issues like bloating

Hair loss

Struggling to gain weight or weight loss

It made so much sense! Because my student diet was based around pasta and bread.

And I realised I must have had it for a while. When I was in college, around 2009/10, I spent most of my money on junk food. I also lost loads of weight in a short amount of time. I didn’t know why, I just thought “fast metabolism, great!” Then I got bullied and rumours spread about me being bullimic and anorexic. I didn’t really care, so I would eat more and more unhealthy junk food on my lunch to make my point to them that no I wasnt. I didn’t think anything of it, and carried on with life, like ‘yeah, whatever.’

Anyway, a few years went on and when I went to uni, I wanted to get fit and tone up. I really struggled to tone my stomach because no matter what I ate, I couldn’t see any progress with my abs. I bloated after every meal and what I ate really didn’t change anything. I researched and followed diet plans from fitness bloggers, but nothing. I came to the general conclusion that ‘bread makes you fat’ and just gave up with fitness because I loved carbs. And beer. I just assumed it made you gassy and bloated anyway, or I had eaten too much, and that everyone got a little bit of painful bloating every now and again. It never really entered my mind that it could be something more serious like Coeliac Disease.

My hair would never grow past a certain length, and despite trying everything, it just fell out. James, my boyfriend would wake up with hairballs from me, it was ridiculous!

And then all the vitamin deficiencies and fatigue started, and they got worse over a period of 18 months. Then that very day where I got told they would test me for Coeliac Disease gave me a little glimmer of hope.

The evening before my endoscopy. I tried so hard to enjoy my last Burger King meal despite the pain.

Anyway, fast forward to 2018, 3 years after my diagnosis of coeliac disease. I’m living my best gluten free life, and my hair is SO LONG I feel like a mermaid. I still struggle with the fatigue at times, because I get low on iron every so often. I’m no longer classed as ‘underweight’ and I feel so good about myself, my body image and I have given up my ‘fitness goals’ because I LOVE GLUTEN FREE CAKE SO MUCH. I also made it to graduation and got a 2:1 despite all of the setbacks I had.

I know people complain about gluten free food, but the upsides to being gluten free for medical reasons really outweighs the negative parts. I pay extra because I don’t want to be ill and hate my body. I deal with the holey bread because science has proven this is a solution and will put me at less risk of bowel cancer and osteoporosis. I love being gluten free because I’m happier, I now love my body and I can connect with other people online that feel the same way!

Thanks for reading!

Georgina x

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