The Emotions of Food Allergies
The world of food allergies isn’t emotionally easy. People I talk to tell me how impressed they are that I do everything I do for my little boy. I know if they were in my position they would do it, just as I am. Its part of taking care of him and I feel that I’m doing what any good parent would do. Nothing special. I love him and will do what I need to do to keep him safe. People want to talk about the troublesome things like the extra time and work it takes in preparing his food. And there’s plenty of time involved with food allergies and I’ll gladly talk about it. But the emotional and psychosocial part is almost always over-looked.
I will never be able to explain to someone not dealing with food allergies the emotional tug of war I go through every day. It’s not something I really like to talk about; it makes me feel vulnerable. However, I will try. Those of you who’ve heard me talk about food allergies or those who have read much here, may be surprised that I’m not always as positive as I seem, or as I like to believe I seem.
Every day, every minute, every second of my day I think of food, what’s in food, was it cross-contaminated, whose eating it, when was the counter top last washed, and so on. Food allergies and the what if’s are always in the back of my mind. When he’s not in my care, I’m always prepared to drop what I’m doing to rush to him in case something happens. I have no peace of mind, no matter who cares for him. No matter how confident, I appear, I’m almost always a few inches from breaking down and moving us to a bubble house in Alaska.
I fight back the anger/frustration when I hear of things that are supposed to make life easier for other families or that are just plain normal for others. At church they have a drop-off baby sitting service for parents to Christmas shop. We will never use this service. I hear of people complain they’ve not gotten a date night this week because their babysitter canceled and the remaining ones are busy. We never go on dates and when we do, we have 1 babysitter to call. They’re handing out snacks at the grocery store and offer my kids some. I feel guilty every time I say no, every time. Parents grabbing fast food because their schedules are too hectic. We’ve never been to grab fast food as a family. If I’m not careful, I can become a very angry and frustrated person. That’s something I’m determined to avoid!
Very quickly following the pang of anger/frustration, comes the guilt. Horrible guilt. I feel guilty because I have no right being angry or frustrated because others can do those things. I should not feel angry because people don’t think beyond their life situation. I feel guilty for those sarcastic thoughts that I never actually say but are there in my head waiting for me to let them slip out. I feel guilty for thinking things I don’t really mean.
I know its my situation and I know others can’t change their lifestyle or stop telling about what’s going on with them just because we have a special situation. And I really DON’T want them too. I enjoy hearing about everyone’s life. What I would like more so than anything else, is for people to be a bit cautious about what they complain about. To realize that not everyone has the luxury (if you can really call it that) of grabbing fast food. And most importantly, to be grateful they have happy, healthy kids and are able to enjoy those little luxuries in life. Because, even though we struggle sometimes, there’s always something to be thankful for.