18, afraid to eat

8 replies [Last post]
By j3ss1c4 on Sun, 12-07-08, 22:45

i'm eighteen and i've been allergic to peanuts my whole life. i had a few minor reactions when i was really young and my first (and only) anaphylactic one when i was two. since i was so young and i haven't had a reaction since, i've gone the past sixteen years not really thinking about my allergy. i mean, sure, i knew it was there and i avoided peanuts/peanut traces but it wasn't a big deal.

flash forward to now: i have become so paranoid about having a reaction that i have a panic attack almost every time i eat. and when i say panic attack i mean i feel like my throat is closing up, my lips are swelling, my face is hot, i can't breathe, and i get hysterical. i am afraid of bottled drinks from the store, fruits/vegetables, etc.

this is especially difficult because i am in college. i was living in the dorms but i had to move home. my school allows eating in class so i'm afraid to touch the desk/seat and i spend every period looking around to see if anyone's eating peanuts and if they are, trying to suppress an attack. i'm even afraid of the surfaces/dishes in my parent's home, despite the fact that they keep no peanuts in the place.

i don't know what could have brought this on but it's ruining my life. i'm scheduled to start seeing a therapist this week but does anyone have any suggestions? has this happened to anyone else?

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By Danielle on Mon, 12-08-08, 03:03

Okay, I think you should take a deep breathe and start fresh.... yes, peanut allergy is very very scary (which we all know) but you have done incredibly well in your life and you will continue on this path. I totally understand where you are coming from. I have one peanut allergic 7 year old and 1 wheat allergic just turned 6 year old. (I also have food allergies) Both girls are anaphylactic. Diligent, perseverance, strength, bravery, anger, anxiety, fear, depression, thankfulness, love. Everyday I feel all of those things and I am learning to take 1 day at a time.... you can do everything that everyone else does except eat peanuts. You can! Something must have triggered this new bit of anxiety. If you lived in Florida I would invite you over.... it always helps to be with others in the same situation. Share feelings, fears, hopes, dreams.... Get a hold of yourself again and be the person that you want to be. You can again. Your therapist should be able to help. I also know that there is a good blog called allergicgirl.com and she does take phone consultations. She has multiple food allergies but she does EVERYTHING!!!! Very inspiring. I know sooo many people with food allergies and they all have different comfort levels and they all do very well. I have also had anxiety attacks but I manage to keep a hold of myself for my kids sake. Please don't let this stop your life. I look forward to hearing how you are doing and I will keep track of you and give you support if you need it.

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By phoenixrizing69 on Mon, 12-08-08, 06:01

I'm a college student as well that was diagnosed my freshman year. My school technically doesn't allow food in the classroom but no one ever abides by it. Not even some of the professors! You could also talk to your colleges disability services about any accommodations that can be made for you. While in class, I keep hand sanitizer with me as well as a travel pack of baby wipes. I also keep benadryl and one of my epi-pens in my back pack. If I ever feel like I am in danger with people eating food around me, I have permission from my professors to get up and leave the classroom with out the absence being counted against me.

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By cathlina on Mon, 12-08-08, 16:34

Your college will have a disability office. Please work with them on accommodations. They should be able to make sure your classrooms are food free. Also, you could bring your own portable chair to set up in the room. We have the canvas type lawn chairs that fold up and have a canvas cylinder carrying case...easy to carry. Another accommodation might be having the professor use Clorox wipes to clean the desk....this was done for me at my workplace by my trainer. I have often taken a folding up lawn chair to use in school settings where there might be peanut residue.

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By Ra3chel on Mon, 12-08-08, 20:13

j3ss1c4,

Seeing a therapist sounds like a really good idea. Hopefully s/he can help you find ways to feel safer.

In the meantime, have you thought about carrying a filter mask and/or wetnaps with you? Those can be really useful for staying / feeling safe in environments you don't have much control over (i.e. classrooms).

Also, definitely talk to your college about disability accommodations. There's no reason you should have to be afraid for your life in class, especially when it can be mitigated by something as simple as banning food in classrooms.

Good luck!!

__________________

The 3 is silent.

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By 3nicks on Fri, 01-02-09, 19:50

My PA son just turned 19 and like you is in college. This issue is not easy and your not alone.

Check out the FAAN Food Allergy Conference scheduel for one close to you they had a session for just teens so they could talk, connect and share. My son still has a close friend he made at at FAAN conference. They also have a Facebook page.

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By MissBoston on Thu, 03-19-09, 10:40

Hey! I'm 19 and I'm a college freshman too! I've been allergic all my life as well and I too had reactions earlier on in life too. Unfortunately I had a reaction a few weeks ago, and since then i've been increasingly paranoid, and I know exactly how you feel. I'm seriously considering moving in with parents or getting an apartment so I'll have more control over my living enviornment. I'm even paranoid about when I go to sip my drink at Starbucks. But what happened to me made me realize that we are young once, and you really need to enjoy and love your life. I know your scared, trust me, I'm mortified and I didn't get out of bed for days after my reaction. But if you let your allergy rule your life you will miss out on all that life has to offer. If you live day to day avoiding something that you know will hurt you, your actually letting it hurt you by letting it overcome and rule you. I'm just as afraid as you are, but you need to live your life, not let your allergy live it.

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By Sapphirebabea on Tue, 03-31-09, 17:42

I'm a junior in college and understand exactly how you feel. I have had to move back home, got a condo with my fiance so I could be closer to my new school and still having problems. I have an airborne allergy so I always carry an Epi and bottle of benedryl and just try my best to stay on top of surroundings. I understand the struggles of getting instructors and other students to understand how important it is to not have peanuts but sometimes it's a losing battle. I'm still trying to find my solution but always remember that your health is always top priority and if you have to leave class, leave class. Try not to worry what will happen and email the professor when you feel better and most I have had are more than happy to let me know what I missed and are concerned if I am feeling better or not. Many have even made announcements in class and it does seem to help in some cases. Everyone here is eager to help support you and even though I'm new I'm glad to know there are people here that know what we are going through and are willing to give advice to help.

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By sidni on Wed, 04-01-09, 13:00

I have gone through phases where that happened to me as well, and I've learned to talk myself down a bit. "I am not allergic to orange juice." etc. :)

I am in a completely allergy unaware university (I can not buy food at any of our food services on campus, they sell nuts and candy with nuts in the vending machines as well) with 40,000 people, nearly half of whom are international students (myself included).

But when I was in community college, I went to all my professors and told them about my allergy sometime in the first few weeks of classes. I never wipe down desks (but I'm also really diligent about never touching my hands to anything I eat unless they have just been washed; I guess that's my weird and wasteful compulsion... anybody want a half eaten potato chip?). I did it before class or right after because I didn't want anyone to know it was me. Some of my professors then just reinforced the rule, "You're not allowed to eat anything in class. If you want a piece of fruit, have it on break and be finished by the time you're back." Bottled drinks were always acceptable.

Other professors told students there was someone allergic in the class and to please not bring any food with nuts. In one class a girl was pissed off, saying she relied on nuts for energy. I told her that any food can give you energy. :) Then suggested she try seeds and dried fruits, which she did.

I hope that this gives you some reassurance. You have barely had a reaction in SO LONG-- you are doing so well! And you will continue to do well!! Your anxieties are likely heightened because you're doing something new. Your school probably has counselors you can talk to, or you can try other methods of relaxation (even yoga might help you just feel calmer over all and more in control...)

Don't feel embarassed if you don't eat new things. Stick with what you know, call companies if you're nervous, and good luck!

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