Christina’s story shows how the adverse effects of gluten and grains can take many different forms. It’s wonderful to hear how both mother and daughter were healed by removing gluten from their diets. I wish them both continued good health. – Dr. Perlmutter
My beautiful daughter started to exhibit severe signs of OCD and anxiety at age 9. At first it started with hand washing, as she would wash her hands until they were raw. After that it was all sorts of irrational fears and ruminations. It was always a cycle of her overcoming one fear only to replace it with another, equally irrational, fear.
At this time we started to take her to play therapists, doctors and psychiatrists at our local children’s hospital. The treatment they offered was always the same in that they wanted to go over details of her childhood with the recommendation my husband and I medicate her, which we refused to do. She hated to go to her appointments and would not cooperate with the doctors. For a period of about four years we stopped taking her to psychiatrists.
She was never better, but she learned to cope, to some degree, and she used me as her sounding board (for a while I even went to her psychiatrists on my own for support), and as anyone who is helping or has helped to care for someone with mental illness knows, it was not an easy task to provide her the support she needed. At times, it was almost suffocating for me. It was very hard to watch someone I loved so much walk around with so much pain and burden. We kept her very busy, and in that there was some temporary relief as it quieted her mind a bit, but inevitably something would cause her to regress back into her anxiety and OCD. It was so frustrating to me that I was so helpless to make her better.
A few years later, in her second-to-last year in high school, there was a school-wide tragedy, a suicide, that profoundly impacted her and would send her back to the children’s hospital seeking help. This time we all agreed, my daughter included, to try fluoxetine in combination with therapy. My daughter had marginal improvement, she said it made her feel vague but she continued with it for several months.
The following spring I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and started chemotherapy just prior to her graduation. At this same time she decided to stop taking her fluoxetine, cold turkey, just prior to her exams. I was terrified she was going to fall apart but she kept it together. That summer, while I underwent the chemotherapy, her anxiety and OCD seemed to be under control, but in September it resurfaced big time. Coincidentally, I had just finished my chemo and decided to see a local NAIT therapist who suggested I try going gluten-free and dairy-free for a while. In discussion, my daughter and her anxiety came up and she agreed to see her, which was no small feat as this therapist has a LONG waiting list.
My daughter started on a gluten-free diet two years ago and we have not looked back. The abatement of her symptoms was immediate. She now leads a life with the usual ups and downs that most of us have. Inevitably, she occasionally falls off of her diet and notices immediate depressive and OCD-like thoughts, not too mention bloating and discomfort. It is nothing short of a miracle to our family. However it pains me to think about all the years she spent in mental agony when there was such a simple solution right in front of us.