Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Allergy Chronicles


That sounds sort of like a teen book series, and I guess that's appropriate because I kind of feel like I am in a teen book series right now. In like, the drama-ridden way, not like, the vampire and unrequited lust-ridden way - just for clarification. If you've been a reader of this blog for any decent span of time, you'll know that I have a near romantic relationship with food. It's one half of the descriptor in my instagram profile, for pete's sake, which obviously means a lot. My family has always been passionate about food, and it's been instilled in me, potentially to a chubby fault at times. I made it a point to try as much ice cream as I could when I went away to Cape Cod this summer, and let me tell you, I tried very, very hard. Like, multiple cones a day hard.

On that same trip to Cape Cod, I had my first allergic reaction to food. It was shellfish - clam chowder and crab cakes to be exact - my first foray into shellfish in my entire food life, and our first meal on the Cape. My grandmother has a shellfish allergy, as does my sister, but of course this was the one time I was actually like yolo and I decided to try it out. It was scary, the whole experience. The physical stuff, the being in a strange emergency room, the starting vacation off at the hospital - but I was okay, and I had Justin with me to boss nurses around while I tried not to pass out from all of the benedryl.

I was fine for a while, and then, I wasn't. If you've been reading this blog for any decent span of time, you will also know that I deal with a lot of anxiety. It's just like this little creature that burrows its way into your chest and grows and grows its home in you the less you fight it. And fighting it is no easy feat, let me tell you. Long story short, my food fears culminated in my first panic attack in a car on the drive home from Maine (it has truly been a year of firsts, guys).

And for the first time in my life, I didn't want to eat. Anything. Seriously, anything. It was a struggle for the first week or so to even have toast, or plain pasta. If the physical implications of not eating weren't sucky enough, I couldn't stop feeling the emotional ones. Food is my comfort. It's my go to when I'm stressed, or happy, or tired - whether that's good or bad, I don't know, nor do I care. And now, it's my main source of stress. The (dinner) tables had turned and I was essentially at a loss.

Long story not so short, I ended up getting a full food panel allergy test and found out that the only other food I am severely allergic to is Brazil nuts - a nut that people only seem to eat at Christmas parties, in my experience? I have sensitivities to a few other nuts and also, like, mackerel, but those are not as severe. everything else on the panel was fine. But nuts, like shellfish, have the ability to cause a pretty severe reaction in some folks. While some of my fears lessened, new ones grew. The little monster in my chest cozied up for the autumn months.

I'm writing this from the middle. This is only half a "looking back on it" story. It's been a couple of months. In that couple of months, I've slowly (snail status) grown a small group of things I feel sort of comfortable eating. It's a journey. A really weird one that just a few months ago I was eating whatever I wanted with essentially reckless abandon. I don't want this blog to become an anxiety journal or a food journal or whatever. But, it's always been about what's going on in my life. And as I try to get back into the swing of this blogging thing, I thought it might help me (and maybe someone else?) to write this out, to force myself to not be alone in it. I also plan on showing some more of my doodles, like the one above. I have to say, the main thing keeping me sane, other than Justin, is making.  Poetry is tough right now, but sewing, painting, and drawing have really helped to take my mind off of things, or rather, channel and transform my fear into something I like. If you have stories like this, you know I'd love to hear them.



  1. I have never had a food allergy before. I can't imagine what being terrified (legit) of food and what it will do to you. Two summers ago though I did experience my first panic attack. It was a summer of big changes for me and I was charging through but then the dog got out of the yard (yes... thats what tipped me of) and I fell apart. Hyperventilating, numbness, dizziness... it was awful so I totally feel you on that one!! Luckily for me after that I had to make a concious decision to relax. Clearly I was too stressed if the dog wandering out of the gate made me turn into a useless puddle on the ground. I haven't had one since! I think sometimes a panic attack can be building up for a loooong time before one thing throws you over the edge! I hope you start to feel more confident about food again!

  2. When all hell broke loose in my stomach two years ago, I gained a fear of food, too. It's still with me today because I always think something I eat is going to make me nauseous, much like how you could have a reaction to something. It's uncool how food can just turn on us like that. Like, what did I ever do to it? Love it too much?


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