Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Part 2 - What Allergeniacs and Alcoholics Can Do (Fix 1 and Fix 2)

Sorry this got delayed folks, Blogger has been having trouble with my account all weekend and has deleted the draft several times. So in the first part I really talked mostly about the negative sides of living as an alcoholic or allergeniac. But there's hope, even for the most remote folks out there, and it partially has to do with the magic of the Internet.

If you're in any of the situations that I mentioned in part 1, I sympathize, empathize, and am working through the same thing you are. Understand that this isn't just Pollyanna advice for a Disney-fied world, its what I have seen and heard about and/or done myself to get through these situations.

Fix 1. Find your people.
What does this mean? Alcoholics and other addicts have the benefits of a 12 step program of some kind, be it AA, SOS, NA, PA, etc. They have after care options and other support groups.

Allergeniacs are more limited. We have support groups. Depending on the group, though, this can range from serious, discussion groups to party groups that make fun food and try need things all the time. But there's also Meetup for groups of all kinds. Parents of children with peanut allergies? Gluten Free Singles? You name it, its practically available everywhere. But what happens if you live in the middle of nowhere? See 1.5.

1.25. Find your people - Starting your own group!
Yep, that's right. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to just drop the folks that aren't treating you well or relegate them to "Facebook Friend" status until they get their act together. So then the onus is on you to start a group of your own. I've tried it and met some wonderful people, but this does take time, and sometimes money, to get a new group of friends started.

I've also seen some parents have to forbid their kids from going to other houses because they can't trust the parents to not serve their child foods that they are allergic to, or expose them to drugs or alcohol. The transition is much easier when you have replacement places for them to go and people for them to meet.

1.5. Find your people - "Meeting" People Online
What does this mean? There are SO many resources out there for people to do online that it helps make the distance question less of an issue. These are three of the best options for internet based meetings and groups where you can actually SEE people and make a real connection with them.
In the Rooms - virtual support including video meetings, chat rooms, and Facebook-like status pages. Wonderful resource for any type of addict in any location.
Google Hangouts - regular events for allergeniacs and addicts of any kind. Find a community on Google Plus, and watch for announcements. If there isn't one for your allergy, start one! People are amazing at finding these resources when they need to.
Meetup - they also have virtual meetings available on their site. Often these use other tools like Skype or Google Hangouts, but they'll at least post a schedule on there for you.

1.75. Find your people - The Rest of the Internet
There's a lot more internet out there, and not everyone is trying to sell you Rachael Ray's Acai Berry Supplement for $19.95. There are great message boards and chat groups all over the internet. For example, for celiacs and gluten intolerance there are:
Celiac.com - forums and blog. Lots of resources here and places you can ask any question.
Knitting is Gluten Free on Ravelry - wonderfully supportive group of women and men of all ages.
Gluten Free Recipes 24/7 on Facebook - not a lot of chat but a great source of regular inspiration. 'Cause some days all you really need is a good recipe to get through the day.
Gluten Dude - a community of folks rallied around the Gluten Dude. Things can get a little, well, blunt and angry here, but its well worth reading because he's a normal guy who's living with an allergeniac condition that isn't all sunshine and puppies.

Fix 2. Working with a "White Knight" situation
What do I mean by "White Knight"? Your family or friends are used to swooping in, as the hero to "save" you whenever you get into trouble. They're lost when you're not sick, addicted, using, and otherwise freaking miserable.

There's a name for this: codependence. They need to rebuild how your relationship works in a healthy way, because it is not a healthy relationship right now, whether you are an addict, an allergeniac, or psychologically traumatized in some way. There is a great group for this called Co-Dependents Anonymous. Yes, its got the ___ Anonymous name, but its for people who want healthy relationships, not just addicts. Family members and friends of allergeniacs often suffer from the same issues as addicts and in many cases, need their own recovery program to help them deal with a major life change such as a gluten, dairy, or peanut allergy.

As a part of this, sometimes there need to be boundaries set. Often this means cutting off the very people you love, because they will continue to "sneak" the substance into your food OR tell you "It's okay to have one while I'm here". Controlling the situation to help save yourself is key - telling a parent or friend that they can only visit at your house, they will need to be inspected at the door for banned substances (substances of any kind, whether illegal or allergens), and that they will watched at all times can seem hurtful, but it will do one of two things:
1. They'll get their crap together and realize you're serious about living a safe lifestyle from any allergens or substances.
2. They'll stop coming.
If they stop coming, the friendship will naturally recede and if they are family, you might find someone else who can fill their role in a healthy way. Remember: family isn't necessarily blood related. Its whom you value in that way.

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