There were days when I was so frustrated, it drove me into a depression. I felt like I couldn't take one step without having to modify what I was doing. My life as I knew it was over and I had no choice concerning the matter. It was done. And it left me bitter, mad, frustrated, and tired. I don't like being controlled in general, so having to limit the food I eat, the clothing I wear, the products I use, the surfaces I touch and the pets that I own.... NOT my thing.
So, here are my tips for helping yourself adjust:
- Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead. Whether it's a concert you're going to, a friend's house you're staying at overnight, or a vacation you're going on, give yourself ample time to plan everything. Write lists to help yourself pack / think about what's coming next on your agenda.
- Let all of your friends know exactly how severe your allergies are. Chances are, your friend (if they're a real friend) will be more concerned about you enjoying yourself and will go to lengths to accommodate you
- Don't feel guilty for the accommodations made for you. Be grateful, but never feel guilty. It's not your fault and the accommodations are going to keep happening, so it's no use letting all of that build up.
- Meditate. When I was going through my adjustments in the beginning, I meditated for 5 minutes every morning before my shower. Teaching yourself how to calm down is a priceless tool. It takes time, but it's worth it. And, seriously... who wouldn't like an excuse to have a quiet 5 minutes to themselves every day? It's 5 minutes. You can find time, I promise.
- Carry a kit with you. I have a little zipper bag that I keep in my purse. It holds my calendulis cream, prescription antibiotic ointment (muprocin), lip products, and steroid ointment. I also have a bar of soap in a travel container in my purse.
- Make your work area safe and comfortable for you. My desk is covered in glass to prevent me from reacting to the synthetic desktop. I also have these items in my cubicle: lotion, carmex, cotton gloves, nitrile gloves, and an air purifier.
- Take time for yourself. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time hanging out in my bed because it's the cat-free zone and we were still waiting to get new living room furniture. The la-z-boys we had were so old and full of cat hair that I felt uncomfortable sitting on them even with a blanket covering the surface. Instead, I'd have "me time" upstairs. I made it super comfy in our bed and would put on a movie and entertain myself with my laptop or whatnot. It actually felt nice to "indulge" in that much comfy-time.
- Exercise. It helps release stress and I know you're needing that after all this adjusting. I sure did. Even if it's just push-ups and jumping jacks, do it. Yoga is also great for exercise and relaxation.
- Be creative. In order to avoid nickel, I used to put on white cotton gloves to open doorknobs and such things. I didn't dig the "look" of the gloves, though, so I did some thinking and came up with using a bandana instead. Much better!
- Let go. Let go of the way you used to live your old life and embrace the fact that you get to re-invent yourself a little bit. This is much easier said than done, but letting go of how you want everything to be exactly will absolutely benefit you, your mind, and those around you.
- Do lots of research. The doctors can tell you what you're allergic to and the good ones can tell you how to avoid a lot of stuff... but they can't follow you around and tell you which, let's say, silverware has nickel in it. Spend time online looking for solutions and also check out the message boards out there. And let's face it - as far as doctors go, the real experts are few and far between, so you might find some information online that your doctor wasn't aware of or forgot to tell you. I'm not saying you should believe everything you read online, though. Make sure to cross reference and look at some reputable sources such as Mayo clinic or medical journals.
- Scream into your pillow. Sometimes you've just gotta let it out.
- Remember that you WILL adjust. Humans have proven over and over how much we rock at adapting. After about 3 years of dealing with my new allergies, I'm starting to get used to how I open the doors at work with the bottom of my shirts. I have a new nickel testing kit and could test the knobs myself, but honestly, I keep forgetting because I get distracted at work and it's easier for me to just open the door the way I have been. The doorknob thing drove me craaaazy in the beginning.
- Breathe. And then breathe again (and again). It's hard and it's uncomfortable to deal with all of this adjusting, so make sure to breathe when you're getting frustrated and wound up. It's only a matter of time before you adjust, so just breathe.