My whole life I have had to listen to ignorant comments and teasing, but never like what happened to me in middle school.
In Grade 7, I walked into class one day to discover that my desk was filled with one of my top allergens – pistachios. I was terrified and ran out of the room before I touched anything. Later on that day, I found out from school staff that the nuts were hidden all over the classroom. The students who did this were eventually found out and punished, but they told me that they had their “reasons”.
It seems I was an inconvenience. They wanted to be able to bring nuts to school – so they were trying to use “population control”! The kids were suspended and had their parents come in for a meeting with the school administration.
Through many situations I have been told insensitive things, such as that I am not “designed to live”, I should be home-schooled, to “get over it”, live in the real world and that my allergies are not other people’s problem.
Standing Up for Ourselves
When I was younger, I might brush off these remarks, as much as they stung. But no more. I refuse to accept this. This is my real world, it’s the people who are so selfish that are not in the real world. As human beings, we all need help at some point. All I am asking people to do on my account is to be considerate and kind. Why is that so hard?
A message to the bullies out there: get educated and be compassionate. Everyone is different. No one is immune to a tragedy or a challenge; one can happen at any moment and change your life forever. Why not spend your time on this Earth making it a better place, being kind and respectful instead of spreading hate and hurt?
To other teens with severe food allergies, I hope you have learned, as I have, that standing up for ourselves is the right thing to do and it is empowering. Beyond that, I think it is also something we have to do, to show others that, despite our issues around food, we are just like everyone else.
And like anyone else, we deserve respect. So stand strong, enlist your parents to help, and stand up to the people who would try to bring us down. They don’t get to win. After all, we know we are capable of amazing things. We are much more than the list of our food allergies.
Erika Dacunha is a Grade 11 student who lives in Toronto.
• Allergic teens talk bullying, TV item features Erika.
• Food Allergy Bullying on the Rise, Allergic Living’s indepth feature
• I’m the Girl with Multiple Food Allergies, also by Erika Dacunha.
Got a story to tell? See: How to submit a story idea to allergicliving.com.