Mia Silverman is allergic to over 50 things and needs to take her EPI pen with her everywhere she goes.
Her life-threatening allergies include nuts, seeds, dairy, fish, and multiple different types of fruit and vegetables, which means she’s struggled to lead a ‘normal life’ just trying to stay alive.
Just a bite of chocolate or sip of coffee could cause her to have a life-threatening reaction, which was an almost weekly occurrence during her childhood.
The extremes she has to go to avoid having a reaction have left the 20-year-old feeling like an outcast in the past, given the fact that her allergies make it very hard to have a safe meal out or socialise with friends.
She can also develop a new allergy at any time but says the hardest about dealing with all this was growing up feeling like an ‘outsider’, which left her with lasting anxiety and depression.
Mia, from Boston, USA, said: ‘I really struggled in school and my mental health suffered. I faced a lot of bullying all the way to high school.
‘I’m better now, but when I was a kid, it was really difficult – always having the fear that anything I ate could potentially kill me.
‘Every time I went to a party, I’d have to take my own food and my own little cupcake, which sucks when you feel like you can’t participate in anything.
‘A lot of my family excludes me, and they’ve been ignorant about it. I’ve had family who’ve witnessed me experience anaphylaxis in a restaurant and go to hospital, but they’ve been convinced that what I went through was made up in my head.
‘When I was young, I sat at the peanut-free table and no one wanted to sit there with me, which really was difficult. Lots of kids would make fun of me and make jokes about sneaking nuts into my food to see what happens.’
Not only was she born with dangerous allergies, but Mia’s also gone on to develop more as the years have gone by.
She added: ‘Straight out of the womb, I struggled to digest things like dairy, but when I was two, my dad brought home cookies with nuts in them.
‘My throat immediately closed, my whole body was full of rashes, and I was throwing up.
‘It was so scary. When we got to the hospital, they ran some tests and found I had all these other allergies. From that point, I just kept developing more and more.’
At one point when she was younger, Mia outgrew her allergies to gluten and soy.
But worryingly, her allergy to dairy went away only to return two years ago.
She said: ‘I’ve tried all sorts of medication, and my doctor thinks I have an autoimmune condition, which they’re still trying to diagnose. The shots they gave me did nothing to get rid of allergies, I just gained brand-new ones.
‘Every time I have to be shot with the EpiPen, it’s so painful and traumatising.
‘It’s not just a shoot of pain, and it’s over – it affects me for the rest of the day and wipes me out to the point where I have to spend all day in bed.
‘It’s hard to eat what I want to eat. Sometimes, I’m kind of forced to eat healthy. So if I want Chinese food, I can’t have it because it has so much sesame in it.
‘I tend to eat very whole foods like steak and pasta. As soon as I start eating processed foods, that’s where the problems start.
‘My mum’s cooking options were limited when I was a kid, but she loves a challenge and she’s an excellent cook. She’s had to get food shipped to us, and talk to the chef before we even go to a restaurant – there’s so much communication she’s had to do just to make sure I’m safe.
‘Now I work with an app called Fig. You put in your allergies, and it finds safe foods for you. It’s solved all my problems.
‘It’s great that I get to be a public figure for allergy awareness, which is something I never had growing up. I’m thankful that I get to find the positive in something that has been a negative for a lot of my life.’
50 of Mia’s allergies
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