Support groups can certainly be a need that anyone can use for almost any issue they are dealing with. Whether it be a face to face group, a social media site, or even in a church. However, if you have to ask yourself, “Is there such a thing as support group overload?”, it may be time to regroup.
When our daughter had her first reaction, we got through it and as the doctor explained that he believed it was a peanut allergy that caused the reaction, I believe we still didn’t understand what we were about to embark on. Neither side of our families had anyone we could think of that had any type of food allergy. It was as if what the doctor was saying was just a bit foreign at that point. After an trip to a specialist to confirm the diagnosis, we went home and began a journey of a complete lifestyle change and research.
We’d never encountered anyone with food allergies and didn’t know exactly what to expect. We knew immediately that we had to rid our house of all peanut products, but beyond that we were clueless. The allergists only tell you so much beyond the diagnosis and then you are sort of on you own. Thank goodness for technology. The internet is a very powerful tool. You really figure that out in desperate times of need. I turned to the one place I knew I could find some assistance and information, Facebook. Besides, I hear the saying is, “If it’s on Facebook then it must be true”.
I started searching out allergy support groups like there was no tomorrow. I quickly became a member of quite a few and since beginning my journey as a food allergy blogger, I’ve become a member a quite a few more. In the beginning they were great. I had a place to go to when I needed to vent, or needed a new recipe, or needed advice on what restaurants were suitable for food allergies, or just to sit and read about how others were dealing with the same lifestyle journey. They became my way out of stressful situations. I could simply log on, express my questions or concerns and get answers from those who knew exactly what I was feeling.
It really was great. And still is. It just seemed like I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed at all that I was reading. Not that I’m dismissing anyone who wants to share their story. That’s exactly what I’m doing with my blog. I’m sharing our story in hopes that we can help others and bring about awareness of living with food allergies. It’s just that it can also bring about sadness that you don’t necessarily want to read about. I remember stating to my husband in the car (as I was browsing through one of my groups on Facebook), “This can actually be depressing.” I began to tell him of a story I had just read about where a child had died from an anaphylaxis reaction to eating a dairy free pancake that was actually cooked by her father.
I couldn’t imagine my child dying from food that I had actually prepared for her. There were so many other stories that I had read about where the child had died from anaphylaxis. I began to question my reasoning behind so many support groups. I had needed them in the beginning and I knew at this point that I still did. But did I really need an overload of support? I had my family and friends, coworkers, so why was I worried about attending so many Facebook support groups. Oh, I know why.
They knew exactly how I felt. They knew what I meant when I said “I don’t think I can handle much more of this” and knew what to say to calm me down. These support groups were full of people who are living the exact same lifestyle I am. Family and friends are great support, but are they there when you are fixing their lunch and snacks for the day because they can’t eat from the school cafeteria, or searching out a restaurant that’s allergy friendly, or calling up the manager of the local event to ask if it’s going to be safe enough to take your food allergic child to. It’s a great deal of work to keep your child safe and unless you are doing it on a day to day basis, you really don’t understand how if feels.
By no means will we reject any support from anyone who wishes to give it, but don’t be offended either when we refer to our familiar support group for back up.