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lilu

Has Treatment Helped Your Relationship?

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I've been searching for some links on this, and haven't found anything.

My husband is in the diagnostic process at this point. For the last several years, our marriage has been horrible. His emotional distance, depression, irritability, mood swings, fatigue - all have taken a huge toll. We've been through counseling, but follow up is a challenge, mostly because he is usually so sick that he comes home from work and climbs into bed. I don't want to make it sound like "its all his fault", one of my biggest contributions is probably that I don't know how to emotionally relate to "down" people. I try to "fix" them so that I don't have to be in that energy. Still, living with a person who is ill, in pain, depressed and withdrawn... well, its tough.

I know that our problems may have nothing to do with celiac or gluten intolerance, but I'm hopeful that with a gluten free diet there will be some improvement at least in his mood, and maybe some positive changes in our relationship.

Please, I am looking for hope. If you have a similar story, please share.

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I can at least relate what has happened in my relationship, from the perspective of the celiac. I would say that your description of your husband quite often matches what I was like before being diagnosed (it's been 2 years now). I was depressed, distant, irritated and angry, with huge mood swings. Exhausted, sick very, very often.

Every last one of those CAN go away on a gluten free diet.

Unfortunately, I couldn't guarantee that this would be the same for your husband, but it definitely was for me, and I know it's been the case for many here. It's largely due, for many of us, to the fact that our inability to digest nutrients means we don't have the resources for our bodies to produce the right brain chemicals and such to keep our minds working well.

There is also something else going on with some of us - although I haven't seen a good explanation for this in any research - where getting gluten will almost immediately set off an emotional tailspin for a few hours to a few days.

If this is what is happening with your husband, it's a physiological reaction rather than a psychological one, which is what often makes it SO hard to deal with. Psychologists can't really do jack to deal with this type of depression, because it has little to do with what we think and everything to do with our brain chemistry, if that makes sense?

I'm sure it has to be frustrating as heck for everyone around the celiac who has to deal with it, too, because it's not easy, and it always seems to come back, no matter how often the celiac promises to try and 'do better' or 'stop getting so angry at everything' and so on. Because it's like someone with a lowered immune system promising not to get sick: physically impossible.

I truly DO hope that this is how it works out for your husband, because honestly? It's a stunning change. The diet has to be kept strictly - especially looking out for avoiding cross contamination - for it to work, but when it does work? It's like getting a new lease on life, I swear.

One thing that I'd pass on in case this happens to you, too, would be this: your husband may be a completely different person on this diet. And I really, truly mean that. Which means some of the old ways of doing things, or patterns of behavior, will just be gone, plain and simple.

My husband has a hard time adjusting to that, I think, because he doesn't get to really see it from the inside.

When I was on gluten, I had a lot of self-hate, a lot of depression. I made a lot of decisions based on fatigue, or anger, or frustration at the world in general. And now that's gone. It has got to be the weirdest thing ever to suddenly NOT dislike myself, between the span of one month and the next. That feeling is simply gone like it never existed. The anger too. I'm laughing at things that would have frustrated me before, calm about things that would have had me losing my mind. No effort on my part, no counseling, just not eating gluten.

And the few times I've been contaminated, it DOES come back, within hours, and knocks me flat into anxiety and frustration for a couple of days. And then goes away completely again.

My husband treats my actions like they are coming from the same motivational place they used to be, which I can understand, but it sometimes means that we have some arguments under old assumptions that aren't valid anymore, and in the end, figure out we were arguing about two totally different things.

But hey, we've been together for over 20 years, which means he's got about 18 years of this, vs. only 2 years without the gluten. Lots of adjustment, and I think a lot of pain on his side for all the crap he had to deal with, and a lot of pain on my side for knowing how hard it's been for him, too, you know?

Again...I hope that this does help your husband emotionally as much as it helped me. It would be truly wonderful for both of you.

By the way, if your husband had a positive blood test and is being given an endoscopy for a biopsy now, I would highly recommend he consider the diet whether the biopsy is positive or negative. There have been some recent studies that suggest some people develop enough damage to present a positive blood test before they have enough damage for a positive biopsy.

Also, they are finding some people have a gluten intolerance that is NOT celiac disease, and there are no tests for that except following the diet to see how things are going.

Best of luck for you. Really, really wishing you some good results from this!

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I'm another one whose relationship was helped by getting rid of the gluten. It was hard for my husband to have to deal with the kids (one who was very sick), dinner, dishes, cleaning and everything else everyday because of me being sick and in pain. For a while he couldn't understand why I couldn't just fix it. And it didn't help that I was sometimes nasty to him (unintentionally) because I felt horrible and our relationship was really hurt. When we found out that gluten was the problem, not only for me but my two children as well it lifted a great burden off my husbands shoulders because I could finally help him around the house, we could spend quality time together talking since I wasn't irrational or too sad to care anymore and we found out what was bothering the baby and could focus on getting her well. For us it has only been 3 months, but the benefits for our relationship have been amazing. Good luck to you and your husband, I wish you the best!

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Has he seen a dr about depression? This can be a reason for feeling down all the time, tired and irritable etc.

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Has he seen a dr about depression? This can be a reason for feeling down all the time, tired and irritable etc.

No, he hasn't. We've talked about it, and he HAS seen a counselor, but he is firm that under no circumstances will he take meds for depression. He has a deep distrust of MDs (as I've notched many pre-diagnosis people seem to develop after years of misdiagnosis and failed treatments) and a misimpression that depression meds will "alter" who he is.

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Hi there, I am sorry to hear your relationship is not where you would like it to be. As someone with gluten intolerance, I can only give my response from that perspective. When I started dating my now husband, almost 6 years ago, gluten intolerance was not really that heard of it. I had been sick with all the normal gluten symptoms my whole life but doctors could never find anything wrong. When I started dating my husband, he knew I was often sick, but loved me anyways, however I will say it did and still does put a strain on your relationship. Constantly being sick led us to either not go out anywhere, or know that if we went out I often got sick. (this was before I went gluten free) We generally just stayed home and watched tv because I felt so crummy. My husband used to tell me to go to the doctors and to do something about it, and I will admit it often made us argue. However, over time as I think my husband matured, he saw that his girlfriend was sick and in pain and just wanted me to get better. After I found out I had a gluten intolerance I became a different person. Once on the gluten-free diet I stopped getting so sick and my mood improved dramatically as well as our relationship. I will definitely say that going on a gluten free diet improved my relationship with my now husband and I hope it does the same for your marriage as well.

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My husband going gluten free has dramatically improved our marriage (14 years.) He struggled with so many of the same things you described in your husband (depression, anxiety, poor health) Sometimes I think it's a miracle that we made it through so many years of not knowing what was wrong (we only discovered his intolerance 2 years ago.) I chalk it up to his remarkable commitment to our relationship (which was awful for the most part punctuated by brief periods of being so great that it kept us going) and the persistant feeling that I had that this depressed sick, ornery person wasn't the "real" him. We saw doctors and counselors who prescribed pills that made him gain weight and feel worse, we did allergy shots, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic...but when he decided to cut gluten while trying to cut weight to prepare for a jiu-jistu competition just to "try it out" our life changed and I am so grateful. We're still figuring it out. Unfortunately, even though we've cut gluten out of our house, he ends up with a gluten reaction about once a month on average because of cross contamination at a restaurant or family member's house. When he has those reactions, depression/anxiety/anger is one of the symptoms that he goes through. It has really helped me, however, to deal with the reactions by removing myself emotionally from the situation and approaching it logically. I know that his "poor behaviour" at these times is a result of the reaction and is only temporary. I wish I could say I was totally patient and loving and never got angry, but it has really helped. The best part is that the great times are now punctuated by the awful times (instead of the other way around.) I wish you the best.

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