While I don't hide my food allergies, I completely understand where she is coming from. I have a inner-struggle when it comes to allergy topics with other people. Those who have allergies are easier to talk to because they have some idea of what my life is like. Other times though, I feel lost and alone because, really... how many people are allergic to so many foods? Well, besides me and my kids.
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When I talk to people who aren't allergic to anything and have no idea what allergies are, it gets frustrating and very depressing. I get rude comments, or I hear the comments come back to me through other people. Yes, I hear them all. I am sure many of you will recognize some of these comments:
- "Well, you can have just a LITTLE bite then. It won't kill you!"
- "But oranges are good for you! Why don't you eat them just once in awhile?"
- "It's all in your head."
- "You aren't REALLY allergic to that many foods. It's just that you don't like them."
- "If you think positively when you eat peanuts, your mind will overrule your body and you won't have a reaction."
- "If you don't know that you ate it, you won't react."
- "How can you be allergic to rice but not beef?"
- "Your allergies can't be that bad. You're just exaggerating."
- "You can't be allergic to ___________. It's just not possible."
- "Of course you found out you have allergies. If you look hard enough for a medical problem, you'll find one."
And these were the polite ones. I am constantly degraded, belittled, treated like a liar, and told that I am making this all up in my head or that it's just a psychological issue that happy pills can fix. Even after I bring up the medical testing that went with my allergies, I am told it isn't that bad. Even after going into anaphylaxis! I am still treated like it's no big deal.
I feel like I am wasting my breath with a lot of the people who treat me like this. Their attitude towards me also builds a wall between us and puts a strain on our relationship. More than anything, it hurts to know that people I love and care about can act like this.
Would they say these things to people who had, say, cancer? No. They would be supportive and kind and caring. But when it's allergies... why does it suddenly become okay to attack me and treat me horrible and act like I am beneath them because I am "sick". I am not sick. I have allergies. There's a difference.
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That is one reason I started this blog. To educate people. To help others understand allergies. But not just for those who don't know about allergies. For those who are living with allergies too. To offer hope. To share tips for living your life to the fullest! To let people know that they are not alone.
In a way, I do feel like I should keep my allergies secret because it's almost not worth the weird looks. It's not worth being treated with so much disrespect, being treated like I am contagious, and being alienated by the people I love the most.
It is frustrating and lonely. But for me, I am not going to stay silent about it. People need to be educated about allergies and hopefully one day people won't feel like Food Allergy Bitch or me. Like we can't really talk to people about allergies or like we're in a special club or that we have to keep it a secret.
I think she said it best when she said
We need to just have those supportive conversations and stop caring so much about what the judgers of the world think. Time isn't limitless.But it did make me wonder
Do any of you feel like she does? Because I sure do!