Allergies are this strange beast. On the one hand we have the complete societal fear of anaphylaxis due to things like peanuts and bee stings. I have a severe peanut allergy. I could potentially die from contact with trace amounts but I also grew up in an era when I had to take responsibility for not dying. Now, schools and businesses, even sporting venues, go “peanut free”. I however was forced to pay attention to what was around me, and ask questions about ingredients. How ever did I survive?
On the other side of the allergy spectrum are things like hay fever, which I also suffer from. These are the allergies that are ” just allergies”. It’s not a cold, and we don’t want anyone to think we are contagious so we simply say, “oh, my allergies are acting up”. Really what we want to say is
“I feel awful, I can’t breath, I want to claw my eyes out, and I wish I could climb out of my skin, but don’t worry your pretty little allergy free completely irritating head about it because I’m not contagious. I’ll just continue to feel horrible in the corner while the rest of you non-allergy sufferers wonder why I just can’t suck it up.”
So, is it that we get ” this will kill me” better than “I wish I could just end my misery”? Or is it that allergy sufferers are so concerned about always being known for their red noses and watery eyes that we consciously try to down play the impact that allergies like hay fever have on our quality of life?
Well, I’m an allergy sufferers and I’m here to say that no matter what you might think of me, allergies suck!
A brief description of the science of allergies: allergies occur when your body identifies a safe substance as something that is dangerous. This triggers an immune response as your body attempts to defend itself. The immune response is what causes the runny nose, the hives, the closing throat. So, for me, it is not actually peanuts that will kill me but my body mistaking the peanut for something dangerous and launching a full fledged assault that the peanut doesn’t care about but causes me headless stress and frustration.