We all hide things from the world, don’t we? At least I think most of us do. I KNOW I do. And one of the things I have hidden from the world turns out to be something that could have been (and will be) helpful for many people if I were about to share it — to be open about it. But it’s hard to talk about it, because I will need to be very vulnerable, and life has taught me that it’s not always safe to be vulnerable. There are those who would take unfair advantage of that kind of openness.
But you know what? There are also others who will benefit a lot from my willingness to talk about my hidden places. There is also healing that will come to me in many ways if I share with you the lessons I’ve learned from my own brokenness.
So here I am.
Since the time I was very young, I have suffered from a hair-triggered temper. It was very easy for me, as a child, to lose my temper. But my angry episodes were more intense than just a child having a temper tantrum. I could escalate very quickly, becoming violent.
I remember being so angry one afternoon when I was about 8 years old that my dad actually rebuked Satan in me: “Get thee behind me, Satan!” he shouted as I was raging from up on top of my dresser.
That scared me.
Was I possessed? It sure felt like it when that rage would well up and I would feel so out of control.
And the rages continued into my teen years, and then into my early adult years. I actually started taking martial arts as a way to learn self control. I went to therapy, did biofeedback and EEG sessions, and eventually used medication to try to regain control over my brain.
But I did not think about looking at my diet for the cause of these rages.
It wasn’t until things changed for me with regards to my diet that the rages completely stopped. And I still did not connect the dots for a few years. It was when Ivan, my husband, was diagnosed with cancer that I began to eliminate all foods with preservatives, chemicals, artificial flavorings and artificial colors. I did not have another episode from that time forward.
3 1/2 years ago, we spent our 25th anniversary in Paris to celebrate. One evening, I ordered a Kir Royale, a champagne drink made with a raspberry liquor called Chambord. After having three or four swallows of this celebratory beverage, I started to feel different — like I was almost not in my body.
I became hyper aware of every swivel of my husband’s head as people walked by, giving it meaning that made me more and more upset. I noticed that he was leaning away from me, seated on his left, to catch the conversation going on to his right, and I started to feel angry that he was shutting me out. I knew rationally that he was just trying to hear better.
It was then that I looked at the red drink in front of me and had my Aha moment. I asked the waiter if I could see the bottle of Chambord.
There it was: E124.
I knew this ingredient.
You see, some time ago we had determined that our son has an allergic reaction to Red Dye 40. As a child, he became easily agitated, volatile, going into violent rages when he had Red 40.
E124 is the equivalent to Red 40 in the EU. We needed to know that as we traveled internationally with our family.
I was having an allergic reaction to this artificial color. Knowing that our son also has this reaction, I pulled on Ivan’s sleeve to get his attention beside me.
“Honey, look at my glass. I’m feeling a lot of anger rising up inside of me. I’ve been drinking Red 40.”
He knew what that meant from our experiences with our son.
“Oh no! What do we do?!” He worriedly exclaimed.
“I’m going to drink a lot of water now, and I’m going to ask you to forgive me in advance if I say or do anything mean. It’s not me . . . It’s the reaction to the dye,” I prepared him and myself for what might come that evening.
Before the night was out, I was in tears, angry over something, and I had shouted at him, calling him names! I was mortified on the inside, but completely out of control on the outside.
It took 17 hours for me to feel like myself again, and that was only after four swallows of this substance.
I know, because of the research that we did with our son, that most medical doctors generally pediatricians) deny that there is a scientifically proven link between violent behavior and rages and the particular molecular composition that makes up the chemicals for the azo dye family. These dyes used to be based on coal tar and were called coal tar dyes. They are now chemical formulations, but they have the same molecular structure.
And my son and I are not the only ones who are affected by them. Many, many parents know that their children are also highly sensitive to these artificial colors, for some reason, specifically Red 40. So many parents see this connection within their own kids that consumer groups have fought with food processing corporations to have these dyes removed from food products. Some doctors, like Dr. Daniel Amen, a famous brain doctor my son and I have both seen, are going before Congress to testify about the serious impact these dyes have in our brains.
Kraft is one company that has pledged to remove Red 40 from their products by 2018. And yet we have companies like General Mills selling their Lucky Charms and Kellogg’s selling their Fruit Loops with the bright, artificial colors in both of these products that are marketed primarily to children! Red 40 is present in most flavored yogurts (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, and peach, to name a few). It is also in most chocolate cake products, cake mixes, brownies, cookies, etc . . . That you are going to find in the store.
If your child is exhibiting erratic behavior, screaming, uncontrollable, raging and crying, please check the labels of the foods that are being regularly eating. Watch for this behavior to intensify after birthday parties, parties at schools, or holiday parties (especially at Halloween or Easter, where candy is free flowing). And if you yourself are having problems with anger instability, check your labels. You may find this ingredient in the foods you are consuming!
No, I did was not possessed by the devil for those many years I struggled with rages myself, I was under the influence of a far more physical “demon.”