Saturday, May 18, 2013

A return and an explanation

I haven't written for awhile.  Most of you, if you follow me, will have noticed.  Or not noticed, until this posting appears.  In either case, you may wonder why.
When I began this blog it was about living corn free.  Not just living corn free, though.  It was meant to share the sudden freedom that came from that allergy diagnosis.
Yes.  You see, pre diagnosis, they told me I had anxiety issues.  They taught me to breathe through reactions, that I stressed and worried too much and I learned to ignore vital signals my body was sending out to say "HELP!  There's something wrong!"
Some of those strategies helped.  I may have thought I was dying on occasion, but mostly that was just pain. And I wasn't really afraid I was dying.  Then I'd wake up feeling a bit better, (no longer on death's doorstep) and pull myself along and through the day, all the while chastising myself for my weakness.
Other people felt sick, too.  Others struggled to recover from pregnancy, others had menstrual cramps, others had to have lingering morning sickness...right?  That's just part of growing up and having kids and not sleeping well.  That's what the doctors said, what my friends said, what others that I dared to begin to open up to told me.
And then I discovered a diagnosis.  And one day I ate, and felt stronger instead of tired and nauseous.  It was a very odd sensation, one I couldn't remember.  It lit up my future and filled me with a hope I can't describe.  I wanted to share that hope with others.

While I was rejoicing in my freedom through food restrictions, my daughter was developing clinical anxiety.  She was 2 when I was first diagnosed, she was there when I was still having reactions that were debilitating and she was there for the ups and downs.  I don't know, and I'll never know, if what she saw then influenced the progress of her Anxiety, or if that Anxiety would have manifested regardless, choosing something besides food to center on if food and my safety weren't at the center of her universe during those formative years.  
When we finally recognized that her problems were beyond typical, we turned to professionals for help.  Unbeknownst to us, they took my food allergies and her food fears and began twisting them all up in gordian knots behind closed doors.  While every word they said to me was true, it felt somehow wrong.
I was told that my food issues were definitely affecting my daughter, that I needed to get over that whole desire for a gluten free, allergen free house.  I needed to accept and conquer my fear of food (which, by the way, was a valid fear.  It took years for me to learn to cook safely for myself.  I still am surprised by reactions on occasion.  My diet is generally balanced, but it is not easy to learn or explain.)
I listened to short discourses on how my child shouldn't be subject to bad tasting food or deprived of normal dietary options just because half of our family unit couldn't ingest them without being sick.  I found myself carefully questioned regarding my reactions and my daughter's reactions, and given suggestions that boiled down to giving up my safety zone in the kitchen and during social events to give anxiety girl a false sense of normalcy when it came to dietary options.  (Not to mention the budgeting nightmare this could cause.)

Something in those words reinforced the concept that food allergies are something to be ashamed of.

I've been trying to work with these people by accepting that an inherent part of my genetic make up is flawed.  And that treating that inherent flaw is somehow shaming.  Something I can and should be hiding like a particularly disfiguring birthmark or hideous haircut.  But food allergies?
I've come away again and again asking myself what's the matter with an apple.  What is inherently wrong with serving roast chicken with root vegetables?  And if you get right down to it, is there something particularly shameful about not knowing the McDonald's drivethrough menu by heart?

I've been staying away from my blog (and the rest of my writing) because I left reality for awhile trying to find it.  I think we're getting back there.  Anxiety child and my original attitude toward food allergy (that they exist and happen to share a lot of so-called anxiety symptoms, and if you have a definite cause for debillitating symptoms you should avoid that cause if at all possible) are not actually related.  So now my goal is to pick up where I sidetracked; return to food power and allergy freedom while continuing to help my daughter, and all that good stuff.

The only thing is that in between, I was trying so hard to understand this 'flaw' that I began to believe it was true.
The only reason I've decided to share this revelation is because I can't believe I'm the only one who struggles with getting the right support from so called support people.  And I want others who are struggling to know that food restrictions, regardless of the cause, are not an inherent flaw.  Society places too much importance on the sharing of food.  You are what you think and feel and how you act...not what you do or don't eat.