This time of year is often a wonderful time. It is a time to celebrate, a time to be with loved ones, a time to reflect on the past year. There is holiday music blasting, lights all around, lots of gifts…oh the joys of the holiday season!
However, for many of us the holiday season is the one we dread the most. Or maybe it is just this year, this Christmas, this New Years that is difficult. For those of us who suffer from a chronic illness like ulcerative colitis or crohns disease, the holiday blues are sometimes all too familiar. Being sick around a time when it seems like the rest of the world is celebrating and full of joy can leave you feeling more depressed. It can leave you feeling like there is something wrong with you and your life.
So how do you handle being sick during this time? Being in the hospital or even home in a flare up or dealing with any kind of serious illness can be pretty detrimental to a person’s physical and emotional well being for obvious reasons. I am going to give some advice that I was never able to follow myself but I do want you guys to learn from the ONE mistake I made (ha ha ha).
1) Let other people in. If you aren’t feeling up for going out or you are stuck in the torture chamber that I call the hospital, allow a friend or family member to come visit you even if it is just for a short time. It will remind you that there is a world outside of the sick life that you are currently living in which I believe will give you just enough hope to hang on a little longer.
2) Remind yourself that it is just another day. While the holidays and New Years do represent milestones, they are just another day out of the 365 days we are given each year. They will come and go very quickly so keep reminding yourself that it will be January 2nd before you know it.
3) When you wake up each morning and go to sleep each night, repeat the words “Today I am thankful for…” and go over in your mind something that you are happy about in your life. Even if it is something so incredibly small. Sometimes I am just grateful that diet caffeine free Pepsi went on sale. These little things end up putting your mind in a better place filled with more positive memories.
4) Treat yourself. Do something special for you whether it is allowing yourself to spend a little extra money on something you have been lusting after or just doing literally anything that makes you feel good.
5) Send out holiday cards. Being a part of the festivities can help you to feel a little less isolated around this time of year. It is also much cheaper than buying gifts for your family and friends, which also requires a certain amount of energy and preparation that writing holiday cards does not.
While no one can blame you for getting down about the fact that you are struggling during a time when many are out happily celebrating, I think it is also important to realize that there is a lot of hype to the holidays and New Years Eve.
Also, you don’t really know what other people are going through so while it may seem like everyone else in your life is out and about, without a care in the world, the likelihood of that is very small.
There is absolutely nothing good about being sick around this time of year, or any time of year for that matter. And living with the unpredictability of inflammatory bowel disease can make it that much more impossible to even make holiday plans thus creating even more anxiety.
If nothing else, I hope anyone who comes across this post knows that they aren’t alone. The holidays are often a difficult time for a lot of people, but dealing with the symptoms of a chronic illness when you are supposed to be out enjoying your life is simply not fair.
Please reach out during this stressful, anxiety provoking, sometimes depressing time. If you are struggling, talk to a family member, a friend or just someone you trust. Keeping things inside is bad for your health ; )
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone needs an ear.