And so here I am 9 years later and I'm speaking out about life with food allergies at my local support group meeting next month. I never thought that I would be the one sharing my story and hopefully offering some insight, when 9 years ago I sat in a doctors office wondering how I could get past the day. I feel so emotional as I write this, tears streaming down my face in amazement. I did it, we did it! We got this far. So many fears and struggles that we've faced together, Julia and I. The fear of the unknown took over our lives until we realized that we wouldn't allow it any longer. We stopped living in fear. Or at least I have. I was somewhat paralyzed in fear that day at the Dr.'s office when he turned to me and said," Your life will be forever changed from today on. You will have to carry an epi-pen with you at all times, benadryl and an inhaler." I was in a state of shock and the look on my face described my ultimate fear of maybe losing my daughter. I felt as though I had just received a death sentence. Again, the fear of the unknown. I didn't know where to go, who to talk to or where to start. All I know is that I started letting fear win and take over me. It became everything that I was, I was constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown and somehow holding it in best as possible for my daughter. Here I am with my first born daughter who is almost one and I 'm not enjoying the moment that we're in because I'm in constant fear of losing her.
How will I cook for my baby? How will she be able to go to school where everything that she is protected from at home will be surrounding her on a daily basis. How will I always protect her? More importantly, how will she protect herself?
Fast forward nine years of living with fear, pain, anxiety and chest pains at only 34 years of age and I soon realized that I needed to make a difference at how I looked at our life. I needed to stop looking at this with angry eyes and a mind full of fears. I let go and let her become who she was meant to be. The sweet, carefree and fun little girl God intended her to be. I began to realize that as soon as I let go of the constant "What if ", I would live in peace again. I learned that I would be no good to her if I had to be hospitalized for a nervous breakdown or even worse died of a heart attack. I started to live again, I mean really live again, and she saw that in me. She noticed my fears were gone and I began to notice her less afraid, more carefree and more willing to enjoy the wonderful life she has. She's less concerned about what she cannot have out of life and is more focused on what she can have.
It's a process and we do have minor set backs. Julia deals with separation anxiety and that's in part because she's as afraid to stay alone as I was to leave her. As I've let go of some of my fears, I can only hope I'm teaching her to be more confident and trusting of herself. After all, I've taught her how to save her own life.
Don't forget... just like like on an airplane, you must always put your mask on first before you put it on your child.
Take care of yourselves!! You are important too!