Only allergy mums will get it. It’s impossible to understand the stress, anxiety, social backlash, hurt, joys and fears of the allergy Mum unless you are living the life of one.
Something as simple as eating, as ‘normal’ as food becomes strictly monitored and controlled, researched about and talked about constantly. You can’t control every meal though. Some days I feel like it’s all I think about.
“What has caused these hives and that swelling, was it the bagel… but the bagel was said to be egg free… maybe it was cross contaminated? Also, he did just come back from Grandpa’s house, I should ring and check the ingredients in everything he ate.” While holding and consoling an upset child, arching his back uncomfortable from a reaction, which you feel helpless to stop. Please antihistamine, kick in soon. His eyes swell more and you worry his throat might close but at least the hives are calming down a little. When it’s all over and he’s sleeping it off, a mountain of emotion comes down heavy on your shoulders – tears are the only response to how overwhelming that was.
Your child. The need to protect your child is huge. In my son’s worst eczema moments I felt useless to help him and evil for holding all his limbs down while he screamed, in an effort to get him to sleep. When those big eyes look up at you, as if pleading with you to make the itchies go away, you crack. You crack every single day because it is a daily battle until you find the trigger of the eczema. What a long winded guessing game that is!
I have most certainly learned a lot in my son’s allergy and eczema journey. Learning how to deal with these negative moments has been key to living with them.
My ‘philosophy’ comes from my health coaching/helping others with weight loss. I teach WHY people should do things. The WHAT is not strong enough to work for you mentally in the long term. E.g. you all know WHAT not to do to lose weight but do you know WHY your body stores fat or WHY your body loses fat? Once you hit the WHY, you unlock the code for success.
It’s the same with managing anything in life – always come back to the WHY rather than the WHAT. Here’s how I apply it to being an allergy Mum:
When you dwell on the future, you create anxiety about things that haven’t even happened yet/might never happen/are very unlikely to happen again. We are very smart as humans and imagining situations which might occur in the future is something we can use to our advantage (e.g. it might rain today so I’ll take an umbrella) but worrying about the worst case scenario will only help you and your child/children if it helps you to be prepared with practical things such as buying an epipen for future events. When you spend your time in your head stressed out by your own imagination, you are not doing yourself any favours. So, the next time you worry about little Johnny eating something he shouldn’t and the reaction, do three things.
1) Catch yourself – stop and realize you have made up a scenario from your imagination which is causing you real life stress.
2) Acknowledge your fear. Say to yourself, yes that is scary.
3) Wash it away to let it go. Consider taking a deep breath and even physically washing your hands. Complete the sentence from above “Yes, that is scary but it isn’t happening”. On the out breath, let it go. It will only pop back into your mind if you allow it.
Don’t dwell on the past. When I think of the suffering my first child has been through, I get depressed. I stop breathing, my tummy tightens and I fight back tears. You can’t change the past. Don’t live in the past because you are not headed back that way. Ever. You have learned so much from the past which you now use for a better today. An exercise to do is whenever you think of a negative past experience, replace it with a positive – remember that time you both laughed hysterical at something silly your child said? Or the first time he called you Mum??
Naturally, this leads to making a conscious effort to live in the present moment. It sounds very Buddha like! Buddha was onto something here. Allergy Mums, take it one meal at a time, one day at a time. Appreciate the good times by acknowledging them out loud, say to your husband or your Mother “Johnny had a great day today” and take pride, feel happy for him. Goodness knows this is something you deserve to enjoy after all the times you have felt awful for him!
Lastly, your child is learning how to be a human from you (scary thought!). So be sure to model to them how to deal with allergies. When they’re older, they’ll be using the strategies you taught them to cope. This is not to say never be sad/angry/overwhelmed – these are normal emotions – it’s just to not get lost in the downer moments and to deal with them appropriately.
A true mental battle, they’ll wallow in their own self pity or take allergies in their stride with your guidance.
You can do this, Mumma. You are already doing a wonderful job. Remember that.
Love Aleshia Dearlove x