Sunday, September 16, 2018

I'm Back

If you told me I'd be back, I wouldn't have believed you.

I was done with allergies. By 'allergies' I mean the gamut of allergic diseases I had to live my life around. Food allergies, hay fever, eczema, contact dermatitis, oral allergy syndrome and cholinergic urticaria were words I never wanted to speak about again. They represented trauma, pain and suffering. They represented fear. I wanted to face the sun and forget about the things I carefully tailored my life around to be healthy. To be 'normal.' Or whatever my version of that might be. (Warning: Do not read the rest of the blog if you're eating lunch or easily squeamish.)

view of a sunset from a heart shaped ice cavern

I wanted to enjoy the outdoors without thinking about the allergy index and whether it was safe or not. I wanted to be excited about social events involving food and actually eat something, for once. I wanted to feel the joy of communication without every interaction being tainted by my negative lens of obsessive allergy consciousness.

I wanted out of the box of self-imposed beliefs that would suddenly make themselves known the second a stranger spoke to me.

“What do you do?” Why does it matter what I do?

“I'm a food allergy blogger,” I'd reply. But I hate talking about it so please don't ask me anything else. 

"Its just something I deal with,” I awkwardly ramble. Was I apologizing?! "I'm actually a YouTuber, singer and artist,” Shut up! Are you going to tell them about that psychic side of you, too? 

Great, now I look like I'm starving for approval. Why do I say stuff like that? Why don't I just leave it alone? Why do I feel the need to tell them that? Ughhh!

relaxed girl sitting in foggy forest surrounded by lots of trees
I'd like to just hide now, thanks.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

I needed them to know who I was. What I truly loved to do. 

Otherwise they'll think I love talking about food allergies. They'll bring up a niece or a grandchild or some horrific experience that'll give me flashbacks and images of my own experiences and then my arms will start hiving up because of my codependent empathy that I can't turn off and this conversation will not be fun anymore.

I just wanted people to know my passions and what I most valued. Because if they didn't, I wasn't okay.

Then one day, I had an epiphany.

I was not ok.

Various symptoms had been showing up for months. Years, even.

And the scariest symptoms didn't make sense. Angry outbursts over little things. Severe sensitivity to sound. Memory issues. Extreme confusion for hours. Tremors. Vision issues. Sharp heart pains. Strange floater looking bubbles of various colors that seemed to move exactly wherever I focused my gaze which worsened when I was exhausted. A diagnosis of auditory processing disorder by an audiologist in March and convergence insufficiency by an eye surgeon two weeks later. 

dry lichenified mouth and lips bleeding at corners
Lichenified mouth from atopic dermatitis aka eczema 
Then there were days almost every week where I could barely open my mouth to brush my teeth because the rashes all around my mouth and nose had lichenified. This meant that scratching my itchy mouth caused it to ooze and now it was dried to thickened, hardened skin. Opening it meant the corners would split and bleed.

But I had to brush my teeth...

Great. I thought to myself. I'm officially a living marionette.

You see, if I happen to go out in public with a reaction, people don't know that. 

irritated mouth with eczema reaction rubbed with olive oil
Five minutes later after rubbing on soy-free olive oil

They see this. After it is rubbed with soy-free Kirkland Signature USDA Organic Olive Oil and carefully disguised with Coastal Scents concealer, one of the only soy-free dimethicone-free makeup concealer brands I can use. 

I knew the mental brain fog symptoms that went along with the face eczema were related to allergies. Things that I had dealt with for decades but written off as 'part of the territory' were getting worse...and I had no idea why.

Chronic fatigue to the point of only being able to keep my eyes open for between three and five hours at the time before needing a nap. Then there were sad thoughts about the past and anxiety-ridden rabbit holes about the worst possible scenarios. 

scrabble game pieces that artfully spell out fear against blank tiles in background
During allergic inflammation, fears can overwhelm. Therapy can help.
I had seen psychiatrists and therapists before yet only temporarily. The only words I ever saw on paper were, 'symptoms of depression' and 'mood disorder' but never anything concrete. They knew I had a pretty severe case of allergies and that managing the symptoms was the only way to alleviate the discomfort. They also knew that as with their other patients, there were good days and there were bad days.

For the most part, I just needed someone to talk to. Someone to vent to about the things in my world that I couldn't make sense of. To openly be myself and accepted for the things I most loved.

I wanted them to know my passions and what I most valued. Because if my therapist didn't know my passions and what I most valued, how could they see who I was? I wanted him or her to know who I truly was. Because then they would accept me.

Turn it around, Maya.” I could hear the proverbial voice of the author, Byron Katie in my head saying, “Turn it around.”

Byron Katie was one of the spiritual teachers whose work (literally titled 'The Work' on her site) I got into in the last few years. Understanding things from other perspectives to see what was actually true or not made so much sense. 

“Because then I wouldn't accept me.”


two hands with bohemian bracelets making a heart sign with sun shining through it

Here I was, observing people I would meet or hardly knew talking about themselves. Going on and on to the point of where you walked away from the conversation knowing so much about them and they knew nothing about you.

I dissected those interactions over and over in my head. Was I doing that? Because if I was frequently noticing it in my reality, it meant I had that within my consciousness or I had a similar frequency to that dynamic...right? 

Only, I knew I asked people about themselves. I knew I wanted to know more. So no.

Then I got to a point of realization that we don't need to truly be 'seen' by everyone. Whatever impression they got from me in whatever amount of time I had with them was okay. What people thought about me wasn't any of my business.

My only business? What I thought of me. What I cared about. What I am passionate about. The idea of not focusing on those things might seem foreign to those who haven't lived for decades with food allergies, environmental allergies, gluten sensitivity or Celiac Disease. But for someone who had gone through what I did? This was huge.

You see, sometimes we sacrifice happiness for others because we watched them give up everything for us. All too often, we take responsibility for the things that were never ours to begin with and let go of responsibility for the things we should take the reins on. Like working towards our happiness and living the life we truly want, right now. But that's a topic for another post.

closeup of fall leaves with the light of dawn breaking on the horizon
Focusing on the sunshine and talking things out relieves stress which in turn, boosts the immune system.

I am back in therapy with a cognitive behavioral therapist for more reasons than just to alleviate the food anxieties. I am flawed in ways I never imagined and yet, it is those very flaws that allow me to see the beauty in everything and everyone. For the mediumship work that I do on YouTube, seeing people through that lens of perception is the only way I can fully see the truth and give the most empowering messages. By doing the work I need to with a psychologist, I can be better...for myself and everyone I am connected to or whom I interact with.

two people cheering glasses with apple cider and a table spread with apple pie and autumn foods
The fall season brings more social activities and food allergy awareness.
I figured out the culprit of the mouth eczema. 

Severe dust mite allergy. My trip to the allergist for food allergy testing and environmental allergy was eye-opening, to say the least. But that will once again, be for another post.

We are about to enter the fall season which brings with it different challenges to overcome. I begin allergy immunization shots again from the very beginning, this coming week. And I bought a new pillow.

If you're in the market for a new one, here you go. No more mouth rash.

I hope this post finds you well. And if you are not well, know that it is only temporary. I will be back for awhile, posting my thoughts, sharing some of my most personal experiences in the past few years and taking you along with me for the journeys that are to come. Welcome.

beautiful golden red fall leaf on a dark wood plank background

No comments:

Post a Comment