Major Depression - Please Help

Posted on: Thu, 10/07/1999 - 2:51am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Well, my son (almost 5) is severely allergic to peanuts and has had 3 reactions over the past 4 years. The more I learn, the more I fear. The more I learn, the more I feel disgusted with others who don't understand and don't care to.

Especially after reading so much, I have become despondent. I almost don't feel like getting out of bed to go to work in the morning. I was on Prozac for about 1 1/2 years since I was so depressed. Recently, I stopped taking it and have been trying to work through my depression problem.

My depression may be totally unrelated to the peanut allergy, but having this problem compounds the issue. I need to be strong but I feel weak.

I'm scared sick to send my child to public school next year (he currently attends a peanut-free childcare) - have been having terrible nightmares. I can't enlist support in person because no one knows enough about the severity of this allergy to really care.

I've tried for two weeks to spread the education of peanut allergy to my classmates in the master's level teaching class I'm taking. I've been brushed off each time. Some of them are looking at me like I'm crazy - how can I convince them I'm not if they won't listen to me? Next week, I'm bringing written information to back me up - printouts of items from this website as well as info I've collected over the years from magazines and the FAN.

I desperately need a friend, another mom preferably! I need someone to tell me it will probably be OK (instead of this prevailing feeling that it probably won't be OK). While my husband cares, I feel it is ultimately my responsiblity to ensure Alan's safety. I'm planning to schedule a visit with the principal and school nurse of the school he will be attending next year, but I'm not sure that anything they say will make it OK for my son. It seems too risky to send him to public school - especially after reading the messages on these boards.

From those of you who have tried alternative schooling, did you find that private or homeschooling was successful and why? Which do you all think might be better?

As for my depression, how are you all handling your emotions? Does anyone have clinical depression? Have your children seen you cry because you feel so "small" and hopeless? How do you explain to them that "everything is alright, really" or do you tell them the truth - that you're worried sick?

I've asked a lot of questions, for which I apologize. But I'm feeling very needy of support and advice right now.

Thanks in advance!!!

Posted on: Thu, 10/07/1999 - 4:01am
Mel's picture
Joined: 09/21/1999 - 09:00

I can tell how upset you are just by reading your message. Are you in a PA support group? If not, where do you live?
A support group will help so much. A real
person to talk with, cry with, get mad with.
Everyone who lives with a PA persons needs to vent! I think that could be a start.
You will be in my thougts and Prayers.
[This message has been edited by Mel (edited October 07, 1999).]

Posted on: Thu, 10/07/1999 - 4:28am
river's picture
Joined: 07/15/1999 - 09:00

Hi Colleen:
Perhaps you need to deal with your depression above all else. Having a peanut allergic child can be terribly frightening, but if you have other problems, it's not going to work for you or your son. Don't home school if you are depressed, it will be unhealthy for your boy and you. You may want to find a really good therapist as drugs alone would be only half a solution. All of us feel like you do to some extent, but maybe your emotional state has let your feelings get out of control. Find someone (a professional) who can really help you so that you don't feel so alone and powerless. Stay safe and God Bless.

Posted on: Thu, 10/07/1999 - 7:55am
Susan K's picture
Joined: 08/13/1999 - 09:00

My heart goes out to you. Please see a doctor because depression is a disease. You can't fight it alone and you should not be ashamed for taking medications. If you are religious, please talk with your minister, priest, rabbi, etc. Prayer always helps me.
I know how you feel about releasing your child into the peanut-filled world. I cried when I saw my son's skin test result for peanuts. My head fills with horrible thoughts, but I know he will be okay.
Knowledge is power, but it is a double-edged sword. Sometimes too much info makes me more nervous. My fear is that my son will grow up afraid and anxious of his PA. It is important that our children feel confident and in control of their situation. They react to our emotions. When my son has an allergic reaction, I panic and fear the worst. I need to stay calm so he doesn't become scared.
Some days I have pity parties, because my son can't eat many foods and that companies don't take PA seriously. Then I realize that he can walk, talk, smile, dance, and basically enjoy life as a toddler. There are millions of children and adults that are physically and mentally disabled. I don't mean to discredit PA, but sometimes we need to see the big picture.
We can only take one day at a time. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Posted on: Thu, 10/07/1999 - 2:18pm
LoriHuhn's picture
Joined: 09/23/1999 - 09:00

I totally feel for you...PA is overwhelming. And I too get more frightened the more I read, yet I seem to not be able to get enough information. It truly is a double-edged sword. But, I think that you need to focus on yourself and getting help (professionally) because I think the greatest gift we can give our children is the chance to lead a normal life. And, if you are terrified, they will become scared also. Think positively...within five years there should be real help for our kids. That is not really very long in the overall scheme of things. My thoughts are with you!

Posted on: Thu, 10/07/1999 - 9:09pm
ann's picture
Joined: 10/06/1999 - 09:00

When my son started public school I purchased the School Food Allergy Program for FAN. It was $75 but was well worth it. It has sections for teachers, administrators, cafeteria staff, etc. I think it helped prove I was not just a over-protective, worried mother. My son's school has been very cooperative. There is no overall ban on peanuts in school (I don't feel it's necessary anyway). We have a "peanut-free table" where no one can sit with any peanut products. He never winds up sitting alone, there are always classmates with safe lunches and many of his friends request their mom's not to pack them anythinng with peanuts. I send a letter out through the teacher at the beginning of each to parents of classmates to let them know about snacks, birthday's, etc. Practically everyone has been sympathetic and helpful. They call me to check on what they can send. For the instances where the teacher and I are not sure what is in a snack we keep a supply of substitute snacks in the classroom. Good luck--hopefully you'll get the support I have.

Posted on: Thu, 10/07/1999 - 9:11pm
James's picture
Joined: 08/11/1999 - 09:00

The feelings of worry and stress are incredibly strong, and help us humans (and animals) to achieve tasks.
I am petrified of heights, and yet I go abseiling quite often. Being a Scout leader, I also teach other Scouts how to abseil. To date, I am one of the safest abseilers I know of. I use my fear and turn it into a positive. Thus I am a very safe abseiler and instructor. Nothing is better than having both feet on the ground after a day of high stress!!!
Try to use your worry and stress and turn it into a positive thing for both you and your PA son. You have to be there for your son, and he will turn to you for advice, guidance and compassion throughout his life. I wish my mother would take the time to understand my PA. To date, my Mum, Dad and Sister (17yo) have not taken the slightest interest in my PA, and I can't even convince them to sit down and let me teach them how to use the Epi Pen. They are always "too busy" or "its not the right time".
The more you know, the better you can handle your son's PA. There are times when everything will seem like the sky is falling in. We all have those moments. You would have seen the amount of "I just need to vent" posts, or "Stressed out" etc. What you see also is the "WOW - our holiday was fantastic" or "My son/daughter is so grown up" or "I am not a Epi virgin any more!" posts.
Your son is very special, and is lucky to have a 99.9% preventable condition. You may have been frustrated before when others won't listen, or didn't understand. That happens. But next time, someone might listen, someone might learn, and someone may gain the knowledge to save a PA or whatever allergic persons life! You are an educator, and the more lives you touch, the better the world will be for all PA and other allergic people.
It may be daunting at times, but it is rewarding!!!
Hang in there Colleen. We are all here for you.
Take care, stay safe, love life, and enjoy many happy moments with your son and family

Posted on: Thu, 10/07/1999 - 10:48pm
Christine's picture
Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

As the other posters have said, it is really important to try to treat your depression. I have not experienced long-term depression as you have described but I have short bouts with it and certainly can understand the feeling of hopelessness. When you are feeling that way, all other adverse conditions (peanut allergy being one of them) are magnified ten-fold. For your child's sake, it is important that you deal with this so that your child does not feel responsible. I suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder that can be it's own living hell. During times that my anxiety level is high, every situation becomes a crisis for me. My peanut allergic son is in daycare and most of the time I'm feeling fine. But when the anxiety kicks in I panic about him all the time and the allergy seems overwhelming. Like you, my son will be starting Kindergarten next year and I am already stressing about it. Since he is already in daycare (which is not peanut free) you would think that I would be "over it." But, any change in the peanut allergic child's routine can be like walking through landmines. This is very normal for you to feel concerned about this change. The important thing is not to run from it. Work with the school system, try to educate them, and give them a chance. If they are unreceptive and seem unconcerned, THEN look for alternative methods. Don't drive yourself crazy with "would this be better or would that be better" until you have to. You may find that once you get over the initial fear, things will go smoothly.

Posted on: Thu, 10/07/1999 - 11:42pm
Hope's picture
Joined: 07/29/1999 - 09:00

I have gone from knowing nothing about peanut allergies (execpt that 'some people' had them) to knowing more about it than I ever wanted to...all in about 14 months and the emotional roller coaster to get here has been astounding! I went through an extended period of denial which was fueled by being so overwhelmed by the implications and magnitude of this condition. Just shortly after I thought I had everything 'under control', I found this web site and learned a whole lot more positive and negative things about being PA and jumped right back into denial!
What keeps me on an even keel is focusing on the positive points and my favorite can always be worse! I thank God every day for my daughter... that she is smart and beautiful and healthy and kind. I pray everyday for a cure or control to stop this from being life threatening and for the people who are working toward this.
My side of the family thinks I am overreacting about my daughters allergy..I find this very hard to deal with. My husband's side of the family (bless them) are true believers...they witnessed my daughters very first reaction. I have some times wished I had one of her reactions on video to show to people to illustrate just how swift and severe the reactions can be, but who thinks to grab the camera at a time like that?
I have accepted that there will be calm periods and stressful anxious periods and all I can do is get through them each day. I believe we are all stronger than we know and although it seems daunting sometimes, we are all going to do just fine.
Look after yourself Colleen, your son is blessed to have a strong, caring mom like you. Let others help took me a while before I could share the burden of dealing with this allergy...I felt I was solely responsible for keeping her safe. I will be thinking of you and praying for you....stay safe. the way what is abseiling?

Posted on: Fri, 10/08/1999 - 1:10am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Wow - you all are amazing!!!! I'm literally shaking!
First, thank you so much - this is the first time in 4 years that I feel like someone has listened AND understood. I realize now just how much I needed that. You are all right about finding a PA Support Group - I'll investigate.
I read the first 3 posts last night just before I went to bed but didn't respond because I was scared that I had opened up too much - my mom has warned me my entire life never to divulge personal information to "strangers." And I have never listened to her advice! I am a very open and honest person and feel like people need each other.
After I read River's reply, I began to worry that maybe I should've listened to my mom. I am depressed, yes, but it's very much internal and my son only sees me upset every once in a while. I'm not saying river is wrong about homeschooling being "unhealthy" but it does bother me since teaching is what strenghtens my hopes and motivates me. I've been a teacher since I was in kindergarten (when I used to teach lessons from Ranger Rick to my grandparents and give them tests!). Furthermore, I stayed home with Alan for his first two years which were wonderful. He started daycare because I felt he needed interaction with children his age. He seems to be like me in that way - needs people! Also, ALan is a bubbly, gregarious, extraordinarily considerate little fellow. People comment all the time, and my husband credits me for a large part of this. According to my husband, I'm a wonderful, loving, caring, fun mom. He just wishes I could get past the mood swings - I may be manic depressive? Because when I'm not depressed, I'm elated. My nickname in college was Gigglz. So it's not like I walk around in an obviously depressed state. I would agree that I'm unhealthy for myself because I criticize myself constantly. But I doubt I'm unhealthy for Alan (to know that I am would crush me because he's what keeps me going). I think I need to clarify, too, that I don't physically or verbally abuse him. Since this is a national problem, you should know I'm not part of it. I do become very annoyed with him and frustrated, but I just walk out of the room and cool off. He knows to do the same when HE is upset! It's a wonderful skill, thanks to all the parenting books and magazines I've read over the years. In your shoes, river, if I thought there was a chance of abuse, I'd have made the same recommendation. But there just isn't. I'm actually a little worried since Alan is so in love with the world and so happy - how will he cope when he begins to experience some of the world's ugliness. But that's another can of worms, huh? (See, I was in la-la land until I experienced Corporate America!!).
Still, I'm not a proponent of homeschooling and would rather not take that route. I'm afraid the appeal is outweighed by the seclusion from others. I would rather let my son go to public school (plus he is SO excited at the prospect!), but it's not because I feel like my personal teaching would be unhealthy for him. I think I would do a wonderful job if I decided to take that direction.
But enough about that. When I checked the board this morning and read the additional 5 posts, I knew that I had done the right thing in opening up a little. You ALL have made my entire week, and your motivating, reassuring, and complimentary words overwhelm me with relief. I want to be a wonderful mommy for Alan while maintaining my own happiness. It's the second part I've had trouble with. Thanks for understanding that and providing support.
James, I extend an extra thanks to you. If I could reach through this screen and hug you, I would. Usually I'm pretty good at verbally expressing my thoughts, but I think I'm having a hard time today in letting you and everyone else know just how much I appreciate what you've written. You tapped into the one thing that's inspired me lately - my love for teaching. It's the one thing I know I'm meant to do and you're right, it will keep me going. After getting my undergraduate degree - International Studies (and 2 yrs. mechanical engineering), I was very very lucky to have found a private school in desperate need of a teacher (7-12). I jumped right in. I had plans to go for certification/licensure, but decided to put it on hold because I became pregnant with Alan. He has been the sunshine of my life ever since - I call him my "son"-light. But the point is, like you said, it's time for me to tackle my own personal goal. I started classes last month!
Do you all think I should continue to try to persuade my classmates (who will be teachers) to consider the dangers of PA, or let it go (before they all get annoyed with me, including the professor)? Should I bother to fight it at this level or just worry about my own son in his own setting? I tend to want to change the world!!! You're right, Susan, "knowledge is power and a double-edged sword!"
Lori, thanks for the very uplifting comment that research may not be too far away from providing real help for PA sufferers, maybe even a cure!
Ann, thanks for endorsing the FAN's school kit. I have thought about purchasing it; now I will!
River and Mel, thanks for suggesting I seek support, particularly a PA support group. I know you're right, River, about finding a good therapist but I've tried three who haven't helped at all. Can you offer some advice on how to find a "good" one - I'm all for it.
Christine, how did you determine you have a generalized anxiety disorder? How do you control it when it kicks in? What you said about overreacting to every situation once it does kick in is how I feel when totally overwhelmed with stresses. From all the reading I've done, I think I'm manic depressive. But I don't know much about GAD. Please tell me more.
Hope, your message really hit home for me! Both sides of my family are supportive but neither has SEEN a reaction. So it's easy for them to say "Don't worry so much - he'll be fine". It was very selfless of you to offer your feelings, too, about wishing you had a video recording. I have wished this too but afraid to admit it because of how it sounds! But, you have a point. I wonder if anyone has a video? It's not something a parent would likely think to do at that point, but how about a bystander ALREADY recording - like at a wedding reception or a birthday party or a baseball game, etc. It's the memory of Alan's first reaction (at age one) that haunts me and reminds ME to always bring his Epi-Pen. Others would surely benefit from having something visual to remind them.
Anyway, it's nice to know I'm not alone in my thoughts. Sorry for writing SO much, but this is the first time I've been able to get this out of my system. I'll try to find a PA support group so I can reclaim the "gigglz."
With much appreciation and admiration of you all,

Posted on: Fri, 10/08/1999 - 3:44am
Christine's picture
Joined: 02/03/1999 - 09:00

Wow Colleen--you're already sounding MUCH better!!! I'm alot like you in that I am a very open person and confide in others often. Nothing is really too personal for me. But I have run across many people like your mother who discuss nothing about themselves and I find that I just don't become very good friends with these people because they are too guarded. As far as knowing how I have GAD--I have been having anxiety symptoms for the last 4 years or so (since being diagnosed and treated for thyroid cancer). I don't know if the symptoms are due to not having my thyroid gland anymore or if I just can't handle stress. I have seen several therapists for this and have basically learned to "talk myself down" when I panic and to realize that certain symptoms I get are not going to cause me to be ill or die. It's getting better.
I agree with you about the homeschooling--I don't think it is detrimental in an intellectual capacity--my friend homeschooled for awhile and her children did VERY well academically but they were so socially starved it was pitiful. My kids (age 8 and 4) love being in a school atmosphere with their friends. Most kids really thrive in this atmosphere. I only advocate homeschooling if your school system is severely lacking academically or if the child is unsafe. I think you can keep Alan safe in public/private school.
On your issue of trying to educate the classmates/professors. I would say that you should not pursue it any further. You've tried and seen that there was no interest. Unless it personally involves them, they are going to be uninterested. I would take every oppportunity to educate them on it, say if you had to write a paper on a particular subject you could use peanut allergy. Then your professor would HAVE to read it. Same as with projects that you might do with other classmates. They may only "half listen" but one day when they have a classroom full of kids and one has a peanut allergy they are going to remember "...that Colleen in my such-and-such class was really on to something...I wish I could remember what she said"!!! You've done as much as you could and you should leave it at that.
One last point, I do get VERY down when I feel like people don't care. MOST of the adults I have come in contact with at my son's daycare really have no idea. I give them all the literature, tell them things that happen, give them the cross contamination warnings and I still think they just don't take it seriously. It depresses me because I would take it seriously if it were someone else's child. I think that they think I am overreacting. What REALLY hurts this allergy is that there is a good number of parents out there who have peanut allergic children whose parents DON'T take the precautions. I have asked my son's daycare director if they have any other peanut allergic kids. She said that they have had them in the past but the parents have never asked that any precautions be taken (peanut free eating areas, school projects, etc.) So she makes it seem that I am a nuisance. When my non-PA daughter was in first grade she had a PA classmate. No precautions there either. I was even at a party once and I was trying to tell the teacher not to give him the M&Ms and the teacher indicated that the mother had never sent in any restrictions. So this is what we are up against. So much ignorance. I have noticed from my thyroid cancer experience and support that, in this world, there are information seekers and information avoiders when it comes to health. While all of us on this board are information seekers and "worriers" when it comes to this allergy, there are an equal number of people out there who take a really laid back approach to it. This is very true with thyroid cancer also. I choose to take an ACTIVE role in my health and treatment while others bury their heads. This is the same for peanut allergy.
Well, I've rambled on enough. Colleen, please post here anytime you are feeling overwhelmed. This is one of the purposes of this site--to help each other out.


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