The last thing I want to write about is the first thing on my mind these days. For the past couple of years, I have suffered from a ghost illness I self-diagnosed as “stress-related”, with symptoms that include gastrointestinal distress, severe headaches, extreme fatigue, and inexplicable mood-swings. Though my two major sources of stress (my last relationship, and my last job) are no more, my symptoms have recently intensified, sometimes to the point of incapacitation.

A researcher by heart, I started reading up on my symptoms, which were compounded a few months ago by a troublesome rash not unlike chicken pox. “Celiac Disease” kept coming up, so I read more and spoke with two friends who have it. With their information, and with my beloved’s encouragement and support, I decided to go on an elimination diet, attempting to avoid all wheat, barley, and rye.

I immediately felt better. Immediately. I’ve been living with these symptoms for so long that I forgot what it was like not to feel sick after eating, to be my usual cheerful self, to be able to stay awake after work, and to go 48 hours without an eyeball-searing headache. Not everything has been perfect – eating at restaurants is particularly tricky – but the past two weeks have been amazing. So the next step has been taken: I have an appointment with an allergist next week.

Today is a not-so-good day, because I ate something at a restaurant last night that I should have guessed was thickened with wheat flour. It is also a not-so-good day because I am new at this, and feeling more than a little overwhelmed by the reality of a lifetime change in diet. But since the cloud is lifting, and since I have loving and supportive people all around me, I know I can do this. For the first time in a long time, I have hope for my health.