Unfortunately, your diagnosis and medical need to be gluten free isn't an automatic guarantee that everyone in your life will be a part of your Celiac Support System. Not everyone is going to understand, not everyone is going to care, and not everyone is going to be willing to speak up for you. While this is tough to accept, it is necessary, and allows you to focus on how truly special those people are that are willing to help you with your fight against gluten.
In honor of Celiac Awareness Month and a recent negative turned positive experience, I want to share a bit more about my own experiences of the seclusion of Celiac and the importance of a support system.
I was diagnosed with Celiac in 2012. Three years later, I can finally say, I've got a solid support system, but that wasn't always the case. It has taken time and a lot of my own advocating for some people in my life to accept and embrace the fact that Celiac is something I will always have and needs to be taken seriously. For those of you with people who "don't get it" in your life, be patient and remember Celiac does not only effect you at times, but also others in your life and they may be adjusting as well.
In order to build your support system, you have to be prepared to explain and educate. Knowledge IS power. Ignorance or unawareness is often the main reason people do not understand the severity of Celiac and the seriousness of Cross Contamination. Take the time to explain this to others, and relate it to something concrete that they will understand, or use a visual that even an amount of gluten smaller than your fingernail can make you sick. Be prepared to explain it multiple times, those on your support system may forget, or make mistakes, because they are not living Team Gluten Free on a daily basis so be understanding with them as well if they slip up. (Like the time my mom thought wheat free meant gluten free and bought me cookies that I ate...and got extremely sick from. We laugh now, BUT, always be on guard yourself, and check the ingredient labels of something and remind others what you can and can not eat!)
Overtime, my Celiac Support System has grown, what started out as just my mom and dad has grown into a mix of family members, friends, bloggers, my boyfriend, and even some members of his family! The road here, has not been easy, and has been filled with more bumps than I would have liked but something that happened yesterday lets me know how far my Celiac Support System has grown and come since my diagnosis three years ago, and makes my heart happier than ever.
Care to hear the whole story? Click read more below