Dealing with a nut allergy alters the way you live your life.
It puts you at daily risk of life threatening anaphylaxis and can cause airborne and contact reactions.
It changes the way you eat, the way you socialise and the way you travel. It makes you anxious and hyper vigilant to your surroundings.
So does a dairy allergy.
So does a shellfish allergy.
All allergies suck. So let’s support each other.
No-one wants to be in the allergy club. So why can the club feel so divisive?
This week the heartbreaking story of Amy-May has hit the headlines and the resulting petition to ban nuts from airlines has taken off like no-one could have predicted. It has gained over 150,000 signatures in 48 hours.
The public support has been overwhelming.
The support in the allergy community has been less so.
It had caused people to argue and attack each other on social media.
I have seen disrespectful comments towards Amy-May’s family and supporters of the petition. I have also seen derogatory comments to people who have questioned it or want all allergies to be addressed. There has been open hostility, blaming, shaming and name calling.
It makes other people intimidated. It makes it hard for people to share their opinion or join the discussion. It makes it hard to have a productive conversation or voice genuine concerns or ideas.
All allergies suck. Let’s support each other.
Let’s say to Amy-May and her family – we thank you for sharing your painful story, raising awareness and launching a hugely successful petition. You’ve done a great thing by reaching out and using your platform to help others.
Let’s say to people with nut allergies – we understand you want to seize this opportunity and we support you. It’s amazing to see allergies being talked about so widely. More allergy awareness and a chance to lobby parliament and airlines can only be a good thing.
Let’s say to people with non-nut or multi-allergies – we know nut bans are not the answer for you. And we want to help. We want to use this petition to widen the conversation and look at how we can make air travel and other areas of life safer for us all.
Maybe that’s simplifying things. It probably is.
But I also know that fighting is not the answer. Shouting down people who are excited to see something that could help them is not the answer. Ignoring the needs of a large proportion of allergy sufferers is not the answer.
Ultimately we all want the same thing – to feel safe, supported and heard.
If we can’t do this within the allergy community, how can we expect those outside to do it for us?
All allergies suck. Let’s support each other. Please.