A friend of mine who shares many of my health issues recently started this completely insane autoimmune-paleo diet, one of those restricted eating things that eliminates basically everything except meat and green vegetables from her life. (<–exaggeration, but only slight). She sent me info on it, suggesting it might help me, too.

Um, no, thank you. I like food, I like eating, I like cooking. I also like occasional sugar, plenty of pasta, eggs and dairy, caffeine in the mornings, wine in the evenings, and don’t even get me started on soy sauce. The idea of cooking without it? Yeah, no, not going to happen.

But somewhat randomly, for three days in a row, I didn’t eat any gluten. It was a little bit intentional–I paused before having granola or toast for breakfast and chose not to, and when dinner rolled around the third day, I decided to make something that I knew was gluten-free. But it was also happenstance, days when salad and veggies and pure proteins came my way easier than sandwiches and pasta. On the fourth day, C and I were on our way to yoga, and I told her that I thought I might be entering a hypomanic phase again.

That afternoon, I made pasta for lunch, ate the same pasta for dinner because I was in a hurry, and ate the leftover pasta for breakfast the next morning. And then crashed. That day, I got nothing done. After thinking I was getting hypomanic–lots of energy, lots of drive to get stuff done, super-efficiency mode–I was abruptly back in total sluggish depressed mode, finding it hard to get out of bed, not really interested in doing anything, too exhausted to continue the spree of cleaning chores I’d started the previous day.

The next day I decided to give gluten-free a try. Not the whole autoimmune-paleo thing–that looks way too hard! But just gluten-free. To see. Five days in and my energy level was back up. I was updating all my blogs, tracking my sales numbers, reading boards, organizing my closet, making plans, going out to lunch, inviting people over for dinner. Every last bit of laundry was done and put away. Even minor stuff — I changed the light bulb in the garage that burnt out months ago that I kept ignoring despite the inconvenience. It took five minutes to set up the ladder and I couldn’t think why I hadn’t done it ages ago.

And then last night I inadvertently ate some pasta that I thought was gluten-free but wasn’t.

Today, I’m normal again. I don’t feel bad, I feel normal. Not manic, but also not energetic. One job and then I want to take a break for a while. Yoga and afterwards I’m totally ready for a nap. The grocery store is exhausting. That’s normal. My normal. The way my normal has been for as long as I can remember.

And it is both dazzling and sort of terrifying to realize that my normal is a gluten-created normal and that I can have a new normal if I’m willing to eliminate gluten from my life.

That auto-immune diet, though, still looks just too hard.