How To Plan For The Holidays With A Chronic Illness
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Health and Wellness

How To Plan For The Holidays With A Chronic Illness

Look after yourself this Christmas--you deserve it.

How To Plan For The Holidays With A Chronic Illness


Just hide away, avoid all the hassle and drama and stress, convince everyone that you don’t exist and hibernate away from all your problems. Problem solved.

Right, now that that’s over, I’ll get down to the actual answer!

So, basically, my situation goes like this:

My health at the moment is teetering somewhere between moderate and terrible. I seem to be starting to get my claws stuck into some of the more efficient healing methods, and there's been a slight improvement since the summer. Nevertheless, I'm sick to death of being bed bound, so have christened this holiday season the ‘Winter of Healing.'

The ‘Winter of Healing' involves me being as calm as possible, avoiding putting nasty things in my body, doing stuff that is good for me (yoga, meditation, etc.), as well as attending multiple types of counseling and physical/mental therapies. It's great, and I'm really excited to plunge all-in on this health journey finally.

Unfortunately, the stresses of Christmas and the excitement of NYE do not fit snugly into this plan.

A Normal Holiday Season

I'm British, so I'm lucky not to have to factor Thanksgiving into the whole mix. Further than this, my holiday season usually involves the enjoyable--but somewhat stressful--family Christmas or, alternatively, getting on the more intense side of drunk with a group of friends. NYE is my favorite holiday ever, and before I was ill, I used to get into the most exciting, hilarious, and random situations over the course of the night (before I was ill, I was the world's most hardcore party girl).

This year my options are similar: take the train back up North to spend it with the family or head over to the east coast for a more-than-messy ‘friend Christmas.' As I'm currently trying to embrace sobriety, the latter is looking less and less like a viable option and, unfortunately, my extended family Christmas--much like most people’s--doesn’t exactly read as an inner sanctum of calm. Plus, this year, my partner is working from 7.30am to 7pm on both days, so there's practically no chance of seeing him.

So what next?

A Naïve Plan

Now, anyone who has read my diary of a bad flare up will know that my last train journey was not exactly smooth sailing. I still don't feel emotionally ready to deal with that amount of pain again, so, incredibly naively, I tried to orchestrate a plan that would involve as little traveling as possible.

I figured there must be at least one friend nearby who was spending Christmas without their family, who didn’t see the holiday as an opportunity to get smashed and would keep me company. Man, was I wrong. I mean, everyone I know is a fresh graduate in their early twenties... what exactly did I expect?

Next, I tried to organize a NYE party at my house. I was pretty sure I couldn't handle going out and definitely couldn't deal with a train journey anywhere near the event--due to my very minimal energy reserves--so I decided a house party was the perfect solution.

Since my partner is working the morning after, I figured a small event with my nearest and dearest would be the perfect way to bring in the New Year. Unfortunately, like I said, no-one wants to sit in a house with their sick friend while the world downs cocktails and watches firework displays in some of the biggest, most exciting and impressive venues in the whole of the country? Even I would opt to be elsewhere if it was at all possible.

Suffice to say, there wasn’t an overwhelmingly positive response. The party idea fell through almost as quickly as it started.

A New Acceptance

So what now? As I sit here on my bed writing this, I still don’t have a plan for the rapidly approaching holiday. Honestly, what I feel most like doing now is spending the time alone; not having to justify or validate my illnesses to the people I’m with, not having to feel like less of a person because I can’t keep up with them and do all the things they do.

At first, I scoffed at this option. How could I, a lifelong social butterfly, be honestly considering spending the most exciting time of year alone? But, gradually, it stopped feeling like a bad thing. This is my life. Whether I can make anyone else understand my situation or not, I accept that no one should feel awful around this time of year.

And if dragging myself across the country, pushing myself way too hard to try and keep up with my friends and family, is going to make me feel awful then I'd prefer to be alone. I can focus on healing and build up my stock of spoons for holiday seasons to come.

Plus, at least I know I’ll have my beloved bed--LOL!

The Takeaway

When I first started writing this article, it truly intended to be a much more practical how-to guide. However, I guess I needed to vent more than I realized. There is one crucial bit of advice you can take from my story, and it goes like this:

You matter. Even if you’re all alone and feel like no one cares--you really matter. The holiday season is meant to be about spending time with those you love. Well, I’m here to tell you that the most important person within that is you.

I know that I, for one, am over trying to fit my illnesses into everyone else’s schedules. This year, my holiday season is going to be about me--and my ‘Winter of Healing’ has taken on a whole new meaning.

If you have a sick friend who's suffering at the moment, why not try giving a bit of extra thought and effort for them this season.

Trust me; it will make their entire year.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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