Monday, 19 January 2015

Allergy induced bullying

Bullying is a very unfortunate part of life that happens to the majority of us at some point or other. That does not mean it is acceptable but in today's reality it happens more often than I would care to think about. Like so many others, growing up I suffered bullying for many years. It was mainly emotional bullying that would focus on my appearance. My weight was openly criticised by so many people around me as well as other things I found myself being very self concious about. One thing I never thought someone would bully me about was my health issues, in particular my allergies. How wrong I was. It has happened more times than I even want to remember but I remember every incident so vividly like it's a tape re-playing constantly in my head. It made me isolate myself. It began to make me feel so ashamed of my conditions. I just wanted to fit in so I began to become careless with my allergies. I would not bother looking at labels when amongst company my own age because I did not want to seem strange to others, I did not want others to comment. It took a few years for me to finally realise that the people who truly matter are the ones who know about your conditions but do not comment negatively about them. They are the people who take notice and look out for you.

I remember my first incident of bullying due to my allergies. I was in my 2nd year at high school. This was before I developed severe allergies but still suffered annoying allergies to food colourings which would make me come out in massive blotches which in turn would leave me scratching my skin, sometimes to the point where it would bleed. A boy in my class at school knew about my allergies. There was a bottle of blue food colouring sitting on a shelf. He grabbed hold of it, opened it and tipped it over my hand when I was not looking in his direction. I automatically turned around and on realising what had happened I asked why he just did what he did. He laughed at me and that encouraged others in the class to laugh too. He looked at me and said "you're a liar. Nobody has allergies to food colouring. Stop being such an attention seeker". I tried to get on with class when the bell rang however within 30 minutes I had to ask to be excused to the school office. My hand had swelled up and my body was covered in my usual itchy, blotchy rash. I was sent home from school and after a lot of antihistamine I began to feel better.

Other instances have occurred that are not commonly thought of as bullying. I remember dating a boy who had a best friend who also liked me. I would frequently end up in hospital due to not only my allergies but my severe asthma too. I would have to cancel going out with the boy I was dating because I was too unwell. I would receive phone calls off his best friend shouting at me down the phone, telling me that I was faking it for attention. He would say I was just being over dramatic and nobody is that sick. When I would end up in hospital he would laugh at me and tell me I was just being a drama queen. I remember going out to eat with the two of them. Before ordering my food I let the waitress know about my severe allergies. She left and the boy said to me that I was an embarrassment. It is just a peanut it is not going to do anything to me and I should stop being so stupid. I remember being constantly upset because off all the comments he would make. At the time I felt so helpless and like I did not know what to do. Looking back I realise what I should have done. I should have just walked away from the situation. I should have let him know that he cannot treat me like that.

I am now nearly 21 years old and I look back on the years with my health conditions. I used to hide them away like I was ashamed off them. I used to fear people knowing about things. Now I look at it all like "these are a part of my life that are not going away". If people treat me in a negative manner because of my health issues then they do not deserve to be part of my life. I did not choose this lifestyle, but I have learned to live my life around it all. Everyone deserves to be treated nicely. Nobody deserves to be isolated and made to feel like they are any less of a person because of a condition which is out with their control. The stronger person is the one who can admit that yes they may not have the life of others their age but they are not different, they are still a person. Food allergies are a major annoyance. They can be a massive inconvenience to your life but you are still a person and don't deserve people to be horrible to you.

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