alt=a nervous man standing, wondering about peoples' perceptions of him

Getting Personal: How Do Others Perceive Your Allergies?

Last updated: February 2023

Being the "sick one" in the family is a funny situation. Everyone views you as being the "weak link." Even my tiny beautiful nephew, who is 5 years old, said to his dad in his mild Spanish accent, "Peter is very delicate, isn't he?"

Being perceived as delicate because of allergies

He said this after hearing a story about me falling into a river when I was a kid. When I was told this, I felt a bit low. Even the kids can pick up on my vulnerabilities. I like to think I hide my vulnerabilities pretty well, but hey, you can't fool the kids! They have a keen sixth sense for these things.

The rest of the family are so used to me having allergies that you become acutely aware that you're the person who has to be "carried." You know, like in those old war films when there is a soldier in the pack that they should leave behind, but they continue to drag him along.

Navigating life with health conditions

No matter how independent I feel, I am very fortunate that I have a family that wants to look out for me and my well-being. In the end, you have to figure out how to navigate life with all these health issues. In a sense, it is easy because it is all I have ever known. Growing up with food allergies, pet allergies, chronic asthma, and atopic dermatitis gives you a strange steeliness. Of course, managing it all gets overwhelming sometimes, and I feel like I cannot cope, but I just keep moving forward. I have no other choice.

Dealing with allergy symptoms at work

My work week can be tricky to navigate. The working week can be tricky to navigate. In my day job, I deal with many different people, and I can just feel that if I am being attacked left, right, and center by my allergies, there is a vibe that impacts the atmosphere and can be quite disruptive.

For example, right now, my eyes are infected. They are watery and red. This isn't the look I usually want when I'm at work. Fortunately, I am off work today, so I am not overly stressed about my symptoms.

Anxiety due to allergies and visible symptoms

I think this type of anxiety is normal. We can occasionally feel anxious or nervous - and when it comes to allergies, anxiety about coming into contact with our allergens can keep us safe.

You can hear my labored breathing when I talk if my chest is congested. Again, these allergy and asthma symptoms make me self-conscious at work. It's not that I worry people with think unkind things or anything. Most are understanding, but that is not the point. I do not want them to notice anything about my health at all.

How do you feel about how others may perceive you when dealing with allergies and other health conditions?

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