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Social effects of PKU

Social effects of PKU

Paul, our UK Mevalia blogger, explains in a series of articles how is life with PKU in his personal opinion.

The mystery of losing my confidence prior to starting secondary school became increasingly clear to me over recent years, especially since returning to PKU and developing an understanding of how PKU non-adherence/cheating affects who I am as an individual.

Our individuality, quirkiness, and unique courage is exactly what draws us to others, and for others to be drawn to us (in any positive way), it’s massively important we can express our true selves to the world for other people to respond accordingly.

My high phenylalanine levels, whilst not on the PKU diet, prevented my intellect from expressing my emotions effectively, which then took a ‘knock-on-effect’ and reduced my confidence levels – preventing my individuality, quirkiness and unique courage from coming out in the way my true nature intended.

Socially, this is a catastrophe!!

Just take a moment to think of the people in your life that you are drawn towards…

Those people who ‘shine’ and ‘light up the room’ as they walk in!

What is it about those people you like so much?

Is it their quirky character?

Is it their ability to ‘just say it’ (without fearing the thoughts of others)?

Is it their witty nature?

We’re naturally drawn to people who are bold enough be different!

People who communicate exactly as they ‘feel’, expressing their emotions with confidence and clarity – because those people stand out!

I certainly had a quirkiness about me when I was off the PKU diet, there’s no doubt about that!

There was nothing I loved better than taking conversations away from the realities of life and laughing at anything I saw humour in, and I always had a great circle of friends. But there was also a good number of people that I just couldn’t relate to and I have always questioned whether this was due to PKU and my inability to express myself as confidently as I do these days.

When I began hitting the bars in my late teens, I recall the other guys in the crowd constantly making new pals as we went ‘clubbing and pubbing’.

The crowd was forever expanding, but I focused mainly on those I knew best.

I am almost certain I would have related with the new guys in the crowd better if I was on my diet in those days, but (little did I know) my eating habits were affecting my expression, and my confidence suffered as a result.

I couldn’t possibly express myself confidently when the expression of my individuality comes from the relationship between my intellect and emotions (which was being prevented by my ignorance to PKU as a young adult), and I didn’t always approach people in a comfortable way.

Surely this is down to the symptoms of PKU neglect, because I’m not a shy person!

I also found justifying my actions and handling conflicts to be the most difficult things to manage whilst being off the diet. (This should be typed in capitals and highlighted with fireworks)

I didn’t ‘feel’ what I was saying, and I couldn’t say what I was ‘feeling’.

My focus was too much on what (I thought) other people would have enjoyed hearing, rather than expressing what was bursting to come out.

Something else I’ve picked up on since returning to PKU …

Nothing is ‘bursting to come out’ when I am eating the wrong things!

That’s the difference between the people we gravitate towards (who light up the room), and the rest of the world!

Their words are ‘felt’ before they speak, so (when they do speak) they speak with enthusiasm and it’s only ever a matter of time before their intellect picks up on another emotion which is ‘bursting to come out’.

By controlling my phenylalanine levels, I am mostly a confident guy.

I say, and do, what I ‘feel’.

If I’m challenged, I express my feelings clearly.

And one thing is for certain…

Our feelings are never wrong!

This is what was lacking in me when I wasn’t behaving myself with my food choices.

It was that ‘confidence’, ‘expression’ and ‘individuality’ that was missing in social situations during those days of mismanaging my eating habits.

I certainly knew how to laugh, but what else could I do to keep up my spirits when I’m struggling to express what really matters and my personal strength had deteriorated to the point of ‘giving up’ every time I needed to fight for something I believe in?

Those people who ‘shine’ as they walk into a room, who we all admire, don’t struggle to express what really matters, and it’s that personal strength (of expressing themselves) that really makes them who they are.

They naturally gain the respect of those around them, because people know where they stand through clear, confident communication.

I’ve learned (by adhering to PKU) we become more like the people we gravitate towards, and less like my former self, when I was off the diet, as I struggled with self-expression and cowered away from tense situations.

The difference was only in a diet.

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