Why do you treat me differently?

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Why do you treat me differently?
I want to do what I love and I want to make a difference. I am passionate about my work and I want it to do something great. Does that seem egotistical? I don’t think so. I do know there is no “I” in team. And now here at Healthy Lifestyles Living I’m building a team of talented bloggers to contribute their knowledge.

Each of us are committed to making a difference and leaving the world a better place when it is our time to exit.

Each of us is unique; we think differently, have different strengths and different passions. What a good thing because the world would be truly boring if we all saw life the same way.

Today’s article picks up on this uniqueness we each have, and I hope it gets each of you to go inside and think, think hard.

Please let me introduce Mary the author who writes the blog Living with Food Allergies and Celiac Disease. Through her blog she shows how having  a positive and enthusiastic attitude can make all the difference when living with food allergies and/or Celiac Disease.

I am 14 yrs old, just like you.

I love to go shopping, just like you.

I love to play games on Xbox, Play Station, and Wii, just like you.

I love to go out to the movies, just like you.

I love to go out to eat with my friends, just like you.

I love to hang out, just like you.

I love to talk and text on the phone, just like you.

I love to go to parties and stay up all night long, just like you.

I don’t like to be alone, just like you.

I want to have a boyfriend, just like you.

I want to go to school, just like you.

I want to be accepted, just like you.

I want to belong, just like you.

I want to be loved, just like you.

So if I am just like you, why do you treat me differently?

Why do you not answer my phone calls?

Why do you not return my texts?

Why do you not reply to my facebook comments?

Why do you not ever want to hang out anymore?

Why do you never invite me to your parties?

Why does it seem like you have just forgotten me?

Is it because I have food allergies and Celiac?  Are you afraid of me? Are you afraid of  my special diet?   Do you feel like I have some incurable, contagious disease?

This is how I feel.

It hurts.

I feel abandoned by my friends.

I do not ever hear from anyone anymore.

I feel lonely.

Christmas break has come and gone.  Several of you got together during your break from school and went to the mall and then to a movie, and later on to your parties.   Did I ever cross your mind?  Did you ever think that I would love to join you?   Or have I just vanished from this earth, only to stay at home alone.  Don’t you know how I was crying inside when I heard you talking about all of the fun you have had together doing this or that?  Have you forgotten how we used to laugh together for hours on end?  What do you find so wrong with me now?  We all went to school together for six years.  Sometimes, I hate that I have been diagnosed as I have, but I cannot change my life.  I am who I am.  I just want you to accept me for ‘me’.

My name is Mary and I am Michaela’s mother.   Michaela was diagnosed with Celiac and food allergies in 2009.  Since then, more allergies have popped up along with other health issues.  The psychological ramifications are tremendous for anyone, let alone a young girl at this age.  I, myself, have questions very similar to my daughters.

Celiac and food allergies are becoming more prominent every day, and so many people are afflicted and never even know because they go undiagnosed for a variety of reasons.  But, being afflicted with either one or the other doesn’t make you different.  We all want pretty much the same basics in life.

I have watched my daughter go through such deep depression when she was diagnosed and her social world collapsed.  It broke my heart as I would listen to her cry herself to sleep each night as she watched her friends on facebook interact, ignoring her.  I have dried her tears when other girls found every excuse for why she ‘couldn’t join them’ in an activity.  I have scrambled to find something for her and I to do that will be of interest when she knows there is a party going on that no one has invited her to.  I have rocked her in my arms when she has just told me that she is ugly and no boys will ever like her.  My soul silently cries each day with prayers that the fears and ignorance will someday go away, so that other mothers and daughters don’t have to experience this nightmare.  I feel helpless and inadequate as a mother most times.  Aren’t we, as mothers, supposed to protect and shield our children from pain and suffering for as long as possible?

Michaela was diagnosed at a very young age with ADHD, Stress/Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Autism, Developmental Delays, and Sensory/Perception Disorder.  She has always been bright and intelligent, but with her diagnoses, people just looked past her strengths and focused on her weaknesses.  Even at such a young age, parents didn’t invite Michaela to events because they were afraid she would ‘tear up their homes’.  Don’t you know that any child that has ADHD is spastic and uncontrollable?  At least, that is what the other mothers thought.  How uneducated.

About two years after she started school, she began having abdominal pains, sometimes so bad she would thrash around on the bed screaming in pain.  I can’t tell you how many doctors I took her to that repeatedly told us there was nothing wrong and that it was all in her head.  Others told us she just didn’t want to go to school.  Three years passed before we found a specialist that tested her for allergies and Celiac.  (She was also diagnosed with IBS, Acid-Reflux Disease, Poly Cystic Ovary Disease, Fundamental Abdominal Pain Syndrome, and Depression)

Michaela wants to be like all the rest of the kids her age.

I watch as people stop and stare at her when we go into a restaurant and I have to take her condiments and/or food just so that she can eat out.

I hurt when I take her to the movies and everyone is eating popcorn and drinking soda and she says “mommy, I sure wish I could have some popcorn”.

I scream, and then hate myself for it when I catch her sneaking a glass of ‘real’ milk, or stealing a ‘Dorito’, knowing all along that I would probably do the same.

Michaela is no different than any other girl, so why do others treat her that way?  The only thing that is significantly different is her DIET!  That’s it!  And food can always be worked around, believe me, I will always find a way.

I have always been told that life is not fair, and that we make our life what it is.  I believe that to a point.  Michaela never asked for her health issues.  It seems as though she has always been sick and it is not something that I, as a mother, can fix.  I can be there to make sure her meals are prepared properly, to support her in her school work and sports, and to lend an ear to listen to her  happy times and heartbreaks.  But what I really want is for people to be educated so that kids with allergies and Celiac are treated the same as every other child their age.  And, in order for that to happen, it has to start with the parents.  Parents have to make the first move by doing a little research and reading.  Once they understand that the only significant difference is diet and that cross-contamination can be contained, the fear will be gone.  Once this occurs, they will be more supportive and therefore their children will follow suite.  Soon, others will be able to look past the diet and see my daughter for who she truly is…a bright, beautiful, young girl…Michaela.

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About the author: Larry Lewis
My name is Larry Lewis, Health & Wellness Life Coach, Founder of Healthy Lifestyles Living, contributor to the Huffington Post, recently featured in the Sunday Mail Newspaper and somebody who went from being an owner of a chain of gyms and fitness fanatic, to a visually impaired overweight and incredibly sick person. Read about my illness to wellness story.
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