Food Allergy Counseling: Pushing Past Fear And Singing Your Heart Out

(Redshirts. Left to Right: Julia Lunetta, me, Susan O'Doherty)

Back in fall of 2012, I took my first musical improv comedy class at the PIT Theater. I was terrified and I was terrible. I wanted to vomit before I went out on stage. Or go home. But I didn’t. I pushed myself out on stage, sang, danced, made choices and was glad when it was over. 

I also thought to myself: there is something really, super fun here if only I can push past the fear.


One thing I stress in my book, Allergic Girl, on this blog, with my food allergy counseling clients and most importantly, what I practice in my life is: living fully with food allergies. 

It starts with understanding your food allergy diagnosis, creating and safe and loving support system and then going out into the world.

But what stops any of us from going out into the world and living fully - the millions of us with food allergies and the millions more without - is fear. Fear of the unknown; fear of failure and it’s twin, fear of success; fear of judgment and a general sense of fear of flopping, fumbling, falling or flailing.

For those of us with severe life threatening allergies, we can have an added layer of fear and anxiety related to managing our lives where our allergens (egg, milk, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy are the top eight allergens in the US that cause ninety percent of reactions) are at every event, at every social gathering, on every mode of transportation. Essentially once that is managed (and that is no small feat but it is manageable) we are faced with the same fears as everyone else.

So why push yourself? Why not simply avoid the thing that scares you, frightens you, intimidates you and challenges you? Because on the other side of fear is pride, accomplishment, success and joy. Failure is there too, but it’s not for lack of trying or giving into fear.


After a year’s worth of classes over a two-year period, I auditioned and was placed on a house team, in the fall of 2014. This meant I was performing, on stage, with seven others, three times a month. Any fear I still had, which was oddles, was molded into a pathway towards play, silliness, creativity and engaged comedy with my teammates.

On that team was a wonderful improviser and clinical psychotherapist, Susan. We discovered we both had a love of Star Trek and a new indie team was born in the spring of 2015 called Redshirts. We've performed all around New York City for the last six months and this coming Monday, October 5, 2015 at 9pm, we are performing during New York Super Week, as part of New York Comic Con. Time Out New York chose us as a Critic's Pick. You can get tickets here.

I am totally excited. And thrilled. And a little nauseated and terrified. (I’m a therapist not a performer, Jim!) But I’m going on that stage, with my Redshirts teammates Susan and Julia, and I’m going to push past that fear and sing my heart out!


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