My child could die.
My child could die by eating food he is allergic to.
My child could die by eating food he is allergic to and I didn’t prevent it.
This is the constant cycle of food allergy anxiety that circles around in my head when I worry about J. I am always on high alert, worrying about the ‘what ifs’ and conscious about the consequences of a small slip up.
Keeping our children safe is every parent’s top priority and when you are dealing with life threatening food allergies this worry is constantly present. It nags at you when you are reading labels in the supermarket, shouts when a child enters soft play with an ice cream and screams when you leave them in the care of others.
Taking practical steps to try and alleviate the risks can help to calm some food allergy anxiety. It gives me back a small sense of control and makes me feel like I am doing something to protect J. This might be researching a restaurant, wiping down surfaces, making others allergy aware or preparing alternative food for a gathering.
I have been very lucky with understanding friends and family who are always looking out for J. Having a support network is essential and I have also found a lot of help online. There are some great facebook groups – CMPA support and Allergy Buddies are a couple – and Anaphylaxis Campaign also run support groups around the country too.
Knowledge is power?
One thing I am guilty of, perhaps it’s the journalist in me, is over researching any problem. Some information is helpful and empowers you, like research from Allergy UK, but constantly digesting too many stories also fuels the fear factor and puts the risk out of perspective. So I am trying to limit my intake.
Take time to relax
Being on high alert all the time is tiring and not always healthy. It is important to try and find time to relax, destress and enjoy yourself. Have a bath, go for a walk, read a book or do something to switch off. If you feel food allergy anxiety creeping in, refocus, concentrate on your senses and set aside a specified time to address your worries.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Since baby A’s traumatic birth I was referred for some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which I have found very useful. Not only is it good to feel you have someone you can offload to and a regular slot to address your anxiety, it also teaches you practical techniques to deal with your feelings.
How do you deal with food allergy anxiety?