Some people, of course, have so many allergies or are so highly sensitive that in spite of all their efforts to ‘buck up’, they still have days – or weeks – when they feel sorry for themselves. For them Dr Bell has found that keeping a personal journal can help put things in perspective.
‘Keeping a journal can be very helpful and supportive, like a sympathetic friend with whom you can talk everything out. I’ve used it myself,’ says Dr Bell, who has some allergies. ‘By a journal, I don’t mean a documentation of every symptom you have, although certainly symptoms are part of it. But by writing down how you’re feeling amidst the events that are swirling around you, you have something to which to return later, to look at yourself when you were last feeling down, when it seems there was no sky above. Then read the next entries and see how you got out of it. And notice how quickly you got better. Because during a depressed period, you may feel like you’re always sick, when in fact reactions may last only a few hours or less.
‘You can also refer to your journal when you can’t remember the last time you felt well,’ adds Dr Bell. ‘It corrects the kind of negative thinking that depressed people fall into, the all-or-nothing view of things. It reminds you that you felt good once, and you’ll feel good again.’
Whatever psychological resources you choose – imagery, meditation, exercise, a journal – all help you enjoy life in spite of your allergies. You may even find yourself laughing at some of the absurd problems created by allergies.
‘When a person begins to look at everything as a threat to their health, they lose their sense of humour. And a sense of humour is very important,’ says Dr Bell. ‘I really believe in laughter as a way of treatment.’