Allergies and Abusive families
March 2, 2013 8:40 AM   Subscribe

My own father sent me to the ER because he "didn't think [I] was that allergic to peanuts." I had a near-anaphylactic attack and was lucky to make it to the hospital. Other than getting the heck out of here and not speaking to him ever again, what would you do? How do I cope with this anger and bitterness? The clincher- my entire family except for my also peanut allergic sister sides with him.

Some background. After getting some serious health problems for years, I was forced to quit my job and move back in my parents to recuperate. All my health problems turned out to be auto-immune, and triggered by food allergies because my whole immune system isn't working properly, apparently. My sister was too, and has the same condition and food allergies. We think it might run in the family. We are both 27.

This is the second time that peanuts have been banned from the house, after my first attack. My mother willingly agreed after that not to bring peanuts into the house anymore, because my sister and I are both anaphylactic and can't even smell them without allergic reactions. (which is rare.) We didn't use to be this allergic, as kids we were ok, but even though we keep reminding them that things are different now, they just don't get it. But my mom, although she cares, also agrees to anything that my father wants, and he didn't want to give up his favorite snack. He also claims it's for his health, because peanuts are healthy and help his constipation. Also seriously. After the ER visit, they've banned them again, but I don't expect it to last, because he loves peanuts and my mother will capitulate eventually.

The clincher has got to be that my entire family except for my sister, sides with my father. My parents are already rewriting and gaslighting the entire incident to be some kind of accident, where I didn't almost die of anaphylacxis, it was just "a regular asthma attack". When well, those peanuts didn't buy themselves, bring themselves into the house and eat themselves next door to my room "by accident." He also refuses to apologize, and on top of that he blames the cat! He wouldn't even drive me to the ER, my sister and mother did. I'm pretty much thinking after I get out of here, my brothers can pay for his retirement since they love him so much (he is deep in debt.) and of course I want no contact with him.

They've also been trying to blame me for this somehow. I wear a respirator mask to protect my asthma from being triggered by their cooking things I'm allergic to, but mostly outside to protect my lungs from gasoline fumes and cleaning products, etc. Even though I was just literally exiting my room, it's my fault because I should have been wearing my face mask. Or else it's my fault for being so allergic. They also blame me for getting sick too, because they only raised healthy children and I must have done something wrong etc. etc. It's unbelievably abusive.

Obviously, I am getting me and my sister the heck out of here, and I'm sure I can cover that in another question. But it will take time and money to move out, and I still have no where else to go in the short term. I do not have any friends or family in the immediate area who would take us in. But for now, I'm scared and my whole family seems to think ER visits are no big deal now, when I've already been there four times in the last twelve months. Only two of these were due to my illness.

I don't want to see or talk to my father ever again, he's been abusive enough without this latest incident. But how should I handle the rest of my family? They claim to care about me, but they certainly don't act like it. Should I bring my cousins into this debacle? They'd side with me for my safety, one even has asthma, but I also worry it will only trigger my father's abusive temper. He'd fear other people finding out about it. But that's also the way he gets away with everything, and I already am not safe here anymore.

Throwaway email: emailmehereplz99[at]
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (36 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry you are going through this. we had a family friend with a similar peanut allergy. It's amazing to me that people don't get it. she's told restaurants, I will die if you cook with peanuts in any form including oil, they've assured her, and well she ended up nearly dying. I still remember the huge warning signs we had at potlucks. But I digress. The first priority is to get out because it's not safe. If you need to move far away to find someone to take you in do that. Then, don't decide about your family immediately. Get therapy, give it perspective and some time. You want to wait to make a decision until after you've calmed down. I have a rule: Never make a life changing decision while still angry. Calm down first. The one time I didn't follow that rule I came to regret it.
posted by bananafish at 8:59 AM on March 2, 2013

Don't drag other family members into this. It's pointless. Focus all of your energy into getting the eff out of there.

Check out emergency welfare in your area. Food stamps, welfare, section 8, all of it.

Also, check out Domestic Violence shelters or hot lines in your area. They may have some resources for you.

The most important thing here is to get the fuck out. As for punishing or exposing your father, let it go. No matter what happens, it will never be enough.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:01 AM on March 2, 2013 [16 favorites]

Wow, I'm sorry this is happening.

First, you've got to take a step back and separate your feelings about your father and what just happened with what to do to get you and your sister out of there. In the end, it doesn't really matter who's right and who's on which side -- you two need to be safe, asap.

Who are your cousins and how far away are they? Call them and get there. Get out of the house. Think hard -- you've got to know someone -- an old friend, an old teacher, anyone. Between you and your sister, surely you can come up with something. Just find a safe place to spend a couple nights.

It sounds like your allergy is pretty debilitating. Are you eligible for disability? Get online and first thing Monday morning, go to your county's human services office (or its equivalent) to find out what state / federal / county / municipal resources are available. They might also be able to help with emergency and / or long-term housing. Get a roof over your heads and get some income started.

THEN deal with your anger issues at your father. No question, he's an ass and some time and counseling will help you accept that. But please focus on your immediate needs first; getting other people to agree he's an ass is not going to give you a safe place to stay tonight.
posted by mibo at 9:01 AM on March 2, 2013

I think you should re-prioritize what you think and worry about. Sounds like you have a messed up family, but more important than what your cousins think or whose side people will take, you and your sister should focus on:
1. Finding a way to be financially independent or a way to live independently if you cannot provide for yourselves (through social services, etc.).
2. Finding a better solution to your medical problems. If you are going to the ER once a quarter, and you cannot move from room to room in a house or venture outside without a face mask, then you need a doctor's help. This is much more severe than just a peanut allergy if you cannot leave your room.
posted by Houstonian at 9:02 AM on March 2, 2013 [30 favorites]

First of all, I'm sorry to hear about this incident. That doesn't seem very caring, and your own family should have your back. As for your question, what is your question? What should you do at this moment? Well, you're 27 and you're living at home with your parents. So first and foremost, you need to find your own place to live. That's number 1. Number 2, make an appointment to see an allergist. It sounds as though you are figuring out your allergies and your tolerance as you go along. If you are becoming more allergic to peanuts, then you might also be developing lower/higher tolerances to other foods, as well. For your own physical safety and psychological comfort, consult with a professional. They will surely have ideas for how to handle situations in which others are consuming/preparing peanuts. Talk to the allergist and lay out your entire situation -- your living conditions, work and personal life, everything. They'll have good advice. Finally, a significant trigger of auto-immune disorders, including allergies, is stress. You sound very stressed. Certainly getting away from your family and finding your own place, a safe place, will help you. In addition, though, I would recommend things like breathing exercises and other relaxation practices as a way to short-circuit your feedback loop. I would even talk to your allergist about this, in fact. Best of luck.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:04 AM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yes, there are two things going on with this incident. First, people don't get it about allergies. Second, abusers get away with it if they have sufficient power, and the abused person often gets blamed. Once you have been in this position (being abused and getting the blame) it will likely be a sore point with you for a long time. But you can minimize the effects by getting out of the situation. I know it is hard to extricate yourself when you have thought of your family as a safety net for a long time. And it is doubly hard when you are exhausted from autoimmune disorders. (Not to mention, I get this feeling that your family is incredibly close-knit for whatever reason.) But right now the illness and dependency are feeding on each other and if you can break the cycle of dependency it will be a new beginning.
posted by BibiRose at 9:10 AM on March 2, 2013

One thing that's not clear from this is what your endgame was before this latest crisis happened. You said you moved "back in [with] my parents to recuperate" however long ago. Were you just living at home until you felt better enough to go back to work? Or were you working with doctors to figure out how to get you healthy again and manage your life so that you could move out and get back to work? Was it that you were hoping your parents would become "good parents" and taking part in aiding in your recovery and waiting until that happened?

You need to work this out with your doctors right now about your condition and possibly a social worker if your life is literally in danger from living at home. Any cousins you can stay with for a while might be worth calling, but the truth is that distant relatives can only do so much because they have only so much time and resources available for their immediate family (and I say this as someone with a close-knit extended family myself).
posted by deanc at 9:39 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Followup from the OP:
I already have an allergist, and have seen many, many specialists for my autoimmune problems. Unfortunately, other than some initial diagnosing, and some medication to manage the worst of it, most of them have been incredibly unhelpful. The only thing they all agree on is that whatever we have is incredibly rare and they've never seen anyone develop so many allergies and become so allergic so quickly. (within the last few years) There is no current treatment available right now, except experimental ones still in medical trials that we are trying to get asap.

The problem with a family this isolated and abusive, is that they will undercut us at every turn. If we call up an old teacher, and ask for shelter, our parents will put on their best concerned parent act, and talk about what a shame it is that their daughters are paranoid and hysterical, they will tell them how it was just a minor asthma attack and we are overreacting and no one will believe us. They have done this before, and it has always worked. Everyone wants to believe they are good parents who only want the best for their children. They don't know what happens behind closed doors.

The only way I can see to possibly get out sooner is to take out loans. I have good credit, and might be able to get back into my old job where I mostly worked from home. I'm not sure how much money I would need, but we definitely would not be able to live with roommates like I used to. My sister has no income, but right now she is sicker than I am, and I wouldn't expect her to work until she is healthier.

I brought up bringing my cousins into this because they might be willing to help us and lend us money. I supposed I could lie and we could just ask them help to move out for more normal reasons. Also, it's not as dangerous as bringing in outsiders as far as my father's wrath would go, and he gets violent when crossed.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:45 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't want to see or talk to my father ever again, he's been abusive enough without this latest incident. But how should I handle the rest of my family? They claim to care about me, but they certainly don't act like it.

My family also remained united behind my abuser. I cut them all out of my life, because I couldn't heal if I were always dragging around a bunch of people who sought to normalize the way I was treated. They may say they care about you, but it's how they behave that reveals their true feelings. I tried for a while to get closure from them about their behavior, but since no one likes to see their own moral cowardice, they were invested in seeing their behavior as correct, which leads to mimimizing the abuser's behavior and constructing a narrative that makes their behavior correct. I tried to have a relationship with them despite this, but it was just too hard since even reminiscing about the past always led to stories in which my recollections directly contradicted their own. So I just stopped having any contact with them, because it hurt too much.

Dropping your family is difficult to do, since family ties are supposed to be sacrosanct, but family are supposed to take care of and respect one another. I consider that if they failed on their side of the social contract then my obligation to them is void as well. I made my own family, so I have a brother and several nieces and nephews and uncles and aunts and cousins that love me as family should, even though there are no genetic similarities between us. However, it is still hard, because you will always want a family that belongs to you like your family of origin does and it will always be a source of sadness that you can't have what so many other people have in their families. Maybe your experience will be different. I hope so. But I think at least until you and your sister are safe somewhere else it would be wise to emotionally distance yourself from them as it will be hard otherwise to avoid trying to get some validation that your experience is as it appears to you.

So for now (based on your update) if your family can be useful to you as you look for a new place to live I would use them. However, I would not attempt to enlist them as allies, merely as possible low-level networking assistance. I wouldn't even mention your father's behavior as the catalyst in discussing it so they don't have to make explicit their decision to side with your father against you. That might make it easier to get their help.

As far as that future reconcilliation goes, I went back to see my own family due to my father's death in December. In the course of several conversations, unprompted by me, they all calmly mentioned that they had understood why I left and thought it was the right thing for me to do. They talked about my mother's cruelty and mental instability as if these were all undisputed facts. But in the twenty years since I left my mother's house, not one of them had ever said anything of that sort to me, even when just the simple confirmation that other people saw the way I was treated was wrong would have meant all the world to me. I had hoped that hearing that would make it easier to forgive them, but it just made that betrayal on their part of myself as a child that much starker. So I am going to tell you the things that your family should be telling you, and I want you to please believe they are all true.

What your father did and continues to do is selfish, cruel, violent and wrong. It is in no way your fault. You are a person deserving of love and respect, and this treatment is wrong. Your family is wrong to condone his behavior by participating in minimizing and ignoring it. You deserve to have people in your life who love you and put your safety and well-being above their own snack preferences (in the case of your father) and a comfortable relationship with your father (in the case of your family).

I hope you are safe soon. I'm so sorry.
posted by winna at 9:50 AM on March 2, 2013 [27 favorites]

Are you not in a country that has some sort of social services for the indigent?
posted by Houstonian at 9:51 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would call your local domestic violence hotline for help--what they're doing is putting you in the hospital and you've also said that you fear violence from your father. And definitely look into getting your old job back; I have a hard time imagining being able to get a loan without some income coming in.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:56 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

The only way I can see to possibly get out sooner is to take out loans.

Then do that. This is life-threatening.
posted by desjardins at 10:00 AM on March 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

> If we call up an old teacher, and ask for shelter, our parents will put on their best concerned parent act, and talk about what a shame it is that their daughters are paranoid and hysterical, they will tell them how it was just a minor asthma attack and we are overreacting and no one will believe us.

When you ask someone for help, tell them this also. Ask them to either a) not talk to your parents or b) agree to let you stay with them regardless of what your parents tell them. If I had an old friend who was going through a rough time and needed a place to stay, my answer to the concerned parent act would be "um, I can let whomever I wish stay in my house." You're not a minor.
posted by desuetude at 10:00 AM on March 2, 2013 [9 favorites]

You have posted here before about your situation a couple times, right? Did you try any of the suggestions in those threads about applying for disability? How did that go? And did you try to find a doctor who works with multiple chemical sensitivity?
posted by fshgrl at 10:05 AM on March 2, 2013 [10 favorites]

I'm not linking to the old threads because the OP wants to be anonymous btw. But the question is substantially the same
posted by fshgrl at 10:08 AM on March 2, 2013

After your update, then it's Domestic Violence shelters. Abuse doesn't have to get violent before they'll help, and they won't give two shakes about a concerned parent act. You just pack your stuff and go.

The communal lay-out of many shelters may prove a difficulty given your and your sister's severe allergies. However, from what I know about my local emergency / church / charity network in my town, if you explain what you need those people won't sleep tonight until you're in a peanut-free house or shelter tonight.

Can you at least afford a hotel for a couple nights while you figure out what to do next?
posted by mibo at 10:12 AM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

You will not make progress toward getting well until you move out. Get loans, find a place, get some work you can do from home, find a primary care doctor at an integrative medicine or functional medicine practice with experience in autoimmune disorders and complex allergies, get your sister on disability, do it.

If you need to soft pedal the abuse stuff to get help from people, do it. Instead of saying "my parents are abusive" you say "sis and I need to live on our own because of our multiple allergies, can you help?"
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:14 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

And I know how hard it is to do this stuff when you're ill, believe me. I've been living with chronic illness for 11 years now. But this is an emergency and you need to get yourself to a place of safety, even if you crash for a while once you get there.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:17 AM on March 2, 2013

Definitely try a women's shelter, at least in the immediate/short term. They'll have experience dealing with situations like this – the isolation, the badmouthing, the gaslighting, even the allergies, all of it.

You really need to get out first and foremost, as others have said.

I come from a very similar family, where my mother "diagnosed" me with schizophrenia in elementary school, and when I started my period, which was debilitating, she looked the other way and told the rest of the family to do the same because I was "insane" and "making it up". Our family doctor thought I might have endometriosis; this and the possible treatment of taking the Pill were ignored by my family. One day I passed out from the pain, and when I woke up so weak and still in pain that I could barely move, I told my brother to call 911 so I could go to an ER.

My brother, trained by our family, phoned our abusive grandmother instead. (This is a woman who convinced the police that her son, an uncle, was not beating my cousins/her grandkids nor locking them in closets for hours without bathroom breaks; that all of us were lying. Yeah.) Our grandmother showed up, stomped downstairs to my bedroom, and berated me for being an attention-seeking bitch, until my mother got home and took over from her. I was never taken to a doctor for it.

A year later, I was in France on exchange, and I did everything in my power to stay there. One more year later, I was living in Finland, and nearly died from a burst endometriotic cyst, which had given me similar pain to the time when I had passed out two years earlier. The Finnish ER had to operate so soon, that they didn't even care that I had eaten a couple of hours earlier (anesthesia-related); a doctor outright said to me, "if we do not operate now, you will die."

Afterwards, my mother phoned and asked why I'd gone to the ER, since I deserved to die.

Just get out. This action on their part proves that they are capable of justifying even your death, and the worst part of it is, it would actually be more practical for them because you wouldn't be around to explain any of it. Indeed, I've been in therapy for a while now and my therapist occasionally has to remind me (in contexts where it's been pertinent) that one thing that has struck her about my abusive family, is that they really, clearly, patently do not care about my survival. What's important to them is that THEY BE RIGHT.

Don't worry about whether others believe you or not. FWIW, no one in my family believes I have my now-officially-diagnosed endometriosis which has been successfully treated by the Pill. Nor did they believe it when I was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance. I stopped speaking to them not long afterwards (was also around the time my mother stated her death wish). Life has gotten progressively, consistently better ever since, and I am in a place now where their opinions cannot touch me.

You can build a new life, new friends, and new, genuine support system. It will take time, but the necessary, literally vital first step is to get out now. You cannot recover if you're not around to recover. Recovery will be difficult, my life the first few years on my own was hella not easy, but it was freeing in a way I'd never before experienced.

Take care. It's great that you and your sister have each other.
posted by fraula at 10:26 AM on March 2, 2013 [25 favorites]

You're 27 and living at home and having difficulty even formulating a plan to move out. You have what you feel are life-threatening medical problems; you have difficulty accessing adequate medical care and no health professional is working with you on a strategy to manage your condition. You are quite isolated, with no nearby/close friends or family. Other problems are afoot -- "ER visits...already been there four times in the last twelve months. Only two of these were due to my illness." (What were the other two for?) Your father is abusive and according to this pretty much attempting to murder you; still in lieu of telephoning for an ambulance you wanted/expected him to drive you to a hospital.

But the question is merely "How do I deal with other relatives"...?

The answer has got to be: with the help of whatever therapist or counselor or social worker you are seeing, who you will begin seeing as soon as possible. I think you are at the point where you need somebody to help you manage your life as well as your medical issues. It sounds likely that your physical problems are causing enough stress to cause psychological distress which may well be manifesting itself in making your physical problems more severe.

The prognosis for anaphylaxis is not very dire: "In those in whom the cause is known and prompt treatment is available, the prognosis is good.[33] Even if the cause is unknown, if appropriate preventative medication is available, the prognosis is generally good.[5]"
posted by kmennie at 10:34 AM on March 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

I think you need to seek out social services-- quite likely, as suggested above, under the rubric of domestic violence. Taking out loans, with any kind of compounding interest, when you have only the possibility of getting your job back, seems like something to avoid if you can (though still preferable to staying where you are). If you have zero debt right now, that is really good. But really, you need to get some help and it should be with professionals to whom your parents have no access. (The idea that you would reach out to an old teacher, and that your parents would somehow be in a position to interfere with that, is a sign that your parents have way too much control here.)
posted by BibiRose at 10:38 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Followup from the OP:
I have nothing against taking out loans, I am just not sure how to get one. It sounds like I would need income first, then apply for a loan? Please tell me the phrase to google and I will figure it out. My best guess would be "personal loan?" Or if i can find a place we can afford on my income, then we would just need a car. Would that be an auto loan? I have heard credit unions offer the best rates, is this true?

I will definitely go back to work.. It will be hard on my health, but it looks like the alternative is worse. At least my boss is very understanding, and will have no problem banning peanuts at the workplace. I can't imagine my coworkers would have any problem with it either. It also sounds like I agree with you all, my family is the most likely to lend us money if we don't ask them to pick sides. If i go back to work, then that is a great excuse it is an hour away, and then I would be moving close to work.

I believe multiple chemical sensitivity has been ruled out.. It's all connected to food allergies, unfortunately that includes foods cooking, airborne food smells and the like. The biggest environmental allergy seems to be things derived from corn, but thank fully aside from ethanol in gasoline (which i use my face mask for) it's mostly just peanuts. And cheese/milk, I guess, but it's not as dangerous to us as peanuts. Our allergies also refuse to stay put and we rotate what we eat. They keep coming and going and it drives my allergists nuts. Between my last two allergy tests, for example, I developed a bad allergy to beef and chicken but wheat is fine now. No one knows why this is happening.

Thank you winna for your kind words. I have always known my family was abusive, but I thought they would stop short of risking my life over snacks. I think we will have to cut our older brothers out of our lives for a while until we're in a better place to resume contact with them again.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:51 AM on March 2, 2013

I come from a similar family background. I have been disabled for almost a decade, by the social security administration's opinion, and my condition has advanced so I rely on IV feeding and a power wheelchair the odd times I can get out of bed. My family does not acknowledge that I am ill, at all: it is mind-bogglingly abusive. I had to cancel my father's recent plans for a visit, because he did not accept as legitimate that I have a compromised immune system and could not host him in my house if he was out in crowds without risking my life (also that it was unrealistic to expect someone on IV feeding to take "day trips" with him).

It is a whole lot easier from thousands of miles away. Do whatever you need to do to put those miles between you and your family. You are disabled and relying on your family for care? You are probably a vulnerable adult covered by your state's Adult Protective Services. You can call them for help if you're feeling unsafe in your home. It sounds like you are unsafe in your home and probably need to be nearer to a major medical center. Adult Protective Services can, if they find you are being abused or just not in a good setting, get you on medicaid and get you emergency placement in nursing or other care, as far as I know. Talk to them. Talk to a social worker or doctor about not being safe at home. I can't promise anything. But Adult Protective Services theoretically exists to address things like this.

As for your sister. Well. This sucks. You probably can't save anyone but yourself, when you are so sick yourself. I don't think you can carry your sister with you. I also come from a family where I parented a sibling. All manner of weirdness spills over into our relationship now, because I got the eff out when she was still in high school and never came home. She turned out ok. It's a horrible harsh reality of our tattered safety net. I don't want to make any prescriptive statements about it, just leave this there.
posted by sweltering at 10:52 AM on March 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

I think a women's shelter is your best bet right now-- but on a side note, have you considered getting a prescription for an epi-pen? Anyone with severe allergies really ought to look into it; at the very least, you'll be a little safer no matter what life throws at you.
posted by doreur at 11:27 AM on March 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

I think that maybe this is a middle class ethos or jist a human thing, but it seems often that an abusive household in the short term is better than a homeless shelter in the short term.

Living at the mercies of our pitiful safety net sux, but putting yourself in their hands NOW will get you referrals to other help. And you will not face the abuse you are now.

My take on it is get to safety, then get your sister to safety. Or she can go to the shelter with you.
posted by angrycat at 11:31 AM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

PS you have having trouble making a life plan because your family is the proverbial Shit Creek upon which you are up. Get the flying fuck outta there.
posted by angrycat at 11:34 AM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

OP, everything about your description and updates indicates that you are severely lacking in independent life skills, or even a social existence outside of your parents and family, even not counting your illness. But this strikes me as standard behavior from an abusive family: instead of raising you to be independent, your family fostered dependence and infantilized you.

The one thing that social services will help you with is giving you the basic life skills regarding how to maintain a bank account, how to apply for a loan, how to deal with doctors, etc.

I guess to a degree, we don't really know what your question is. If you're looking for commiseration, people have provided some great answers showing you that they've been in similar positions and how they got out of it. But you're not going to get to that place without working very closely with social services professionals who are going to lead you step by step through the process of self-care and independent living.
posted by deanc at 11:57 AM on March 2, 2013 [19 favorites]

You need to work on leaving as soon as possible. I got divorced because my husband sided with doctors in blaming my genes and was insufficiently cooperative about controlling environmental impacts. Yes, I have a genetic disorder. That doesn't mean there is no real point in even trying to protect me from chemicals, germs, etc.

I went home for a time and lived with family while job hunting. I got a desk job in an industrial park. It was hard on my health but allowed me to get my own place and exercise more control. I gradually improved. A little over five years later, I left that job when it became clear that staying would prevent me from making further progress towards getting well.

So it has been a long haul. I currently live far away from my ex as well as my parents, siblings and other relatives. I am not angry at them. I think they honestly do not understand. And I think it scares them to think I might be right because it implies that there might be more they could do about their health issues but it would involve radical lifestyle changes. I also think all the chemicals in their lives clouds their thinking.

I find it frustrating and frightening to be facing my problems mostly "alone," but I am getting better and that is the thing that matters most. I see no point in wasting a lot of time and effort on arguing with them. If I am right, I will get well. If I am wrong, I am doomed to die. Convincing them really isn't important. Going ahead and doing what it takes to get healthier is all that really matters.

I suggest you focus on making a plan to get out. Do not tell them. Handle it as quietly as possible so they cannot interfere. Avoid confrontation. Don't waste your limited time and energy on arguing with people who will not and cannot help you. Find freelance work online. Apply for foodstamps. Etc.

Find a viable answer that sucks less than the one you have now. Get a little better. Rinse and repeat. It takes a long time to get better when you are extremely ill. Look for improvement, not some perfect solution. There probably isn't one.
posted by Michele in California at 1:01 PM on March 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

Check out the book "Out of This World" by Mary Swander. She's a writer who developed extreme food and environmental allergies, and the book is about the changes she had to make to start healing. I concur with the recommendation for DV shelters; also, if there ate Catholic Worker houses in your area, they could be a good resource (although I've no idea if they'd be peanut-free).
posted by epj at 1:41 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Other than getting the heck out of here and not speaking to him ever again, what would you do?

Nothing. That's it. Get the heck out of there. A lot of what you've said here, while very important to you, is irrelevant to AskMe. I would reword your question to be:

"I was raised in an abusive family and do not yet have all the skills I need to live independently. I live in _________ . Does anyone have suggestions for resources for me? I specifically need to learn how to open a bank account, rent an apartment, buy a car, and find out if I qualify for any government assistance."

If you let us know where you live then people can point you towards specific agencies and organizations that can help you. You don't have to be too specific, but at least what city you live close to.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:23 PM on March 2, 2013 [16 favorites]

You might not even need to take out loans to be able to move out of your parents' house. Check out and you'll be surprised at the kind of assistance you're eligible for.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:50 PM on March 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

My family is not outright abusive in any way, but my father REFUSES to believe me or my sisters when we are sick or injured. I was lucky not to have any major health issues until I was already an independent adult with good health care. When he gets a cold, it's armageddon; when one of us needed mood stabilizers or surgery, he ignored it. Some people are just fucking idiots that way. Get out, ignore them for a very long time.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:14 PM on March 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

The people suggesting you go to stay in a shelter obviously aren't thinking very much about how nearly impossible it would be for you to avoid your allergens in a shelter. My son is allergic to peanuts and I couldn't even get the private school I was paying for him to go to last year to keep peanuts out of his classroom (not the whole school even-- just his classroom). I can't imagine what it would be like trying to get a shelter that relies on donated food to keep peanuts and corn away from you. Ugh.

I do think, though, that you should call a domestic abuse hotline and see what other resources they could offer you, since you can't likely safely stay in a shelter. Maybe they could hook you up with a charity that provides emergency loans, so that you could put a security deposit on a studio apartment or rent a hotel room or something?

Assuming you are in the U.S., I think you should apply for Social Security Disability benefits ASAP. Surely your allergist, who is aware of the severity of your condition, can write you a letter. But it could take months for that money to come through.

How soon can you go back to your former job? It sounds like, unfortunately, that may be your only reasonable option for getting immediate cash without charitable aid; if you apply for a loan from a bank or a credit union, the loan provider will want to see that you have an income. Of course, if you're working full time hours you will not qualify for Social Security, so you may in fact at one point need to quit your job (or cut back on hours) to get the help you need. But for now it seems like you need money FAST, and your old job may be the only way to get it.

Do you have a credit card you could get a cash advance on? Normally I would not recommend doing that at all, but this is definitely an emergency situation.
posted by BlueJae at 9:21 PM on March 2, 2013

In the mean time, assuming you really do despite your best efforts end up stuck at your house for another few weeks, I suggest you ask the allergist to write your family a letter detailing what your living situation should be, and outlining the specific accommodations they need to make for you (no peanuts in the home, etc.). I know that sounds like an odd request, but allergists contact schools and employers all the time to confirm people's symptoms and request accommodations, so it wouldn't be so different from that. Just ask and see what the allergist says.

And you might ask your mother to suggest to your father that if he MUST eat peanuts, he should do so at work, or while he's otherwise outside the home. (My husband's favorite candy involves peanuts and he still eats it -- but ONLY outside the house, never at home, and never around our kid.)
posted by BlueJae at 9:28 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think you'll have more luck getting loans from sympathetic family and friends than from a bank.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:03 PM on March 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Never underestimate the human body's ability to heal. Human tissue is renewing itself constantly. And it is AMAZING how much better you will heal when you are NOT in a stressful situation. If you find yourself in a stressful situation, your body will be in fight-or-flight mode, not "lets renew the tissue nice and properly mode".

I had multiple food allergies and intolerances. While diet and the right supplements helped tremendously, my rate of healing increased 100-fold once my life became less stressful. Foods that required an epi-pen less than a year ago are perfectly fine now. PM me if you'd like more info.

So yes, get out of there. Go to social services, it's what they are there for. Get your sister on disability, and make sure that check goes into her personal account, NOT your family's. Maybe go back to work. Find a cheap apartment. You are perfectly capable of being independent, regardless of what your family has lead you to believe.
posted by Neekee at 8:07 AM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

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