I’m seeing a lot of people posting questions on Twitter this week about how to make it through the holiday season with a chronic illness. I thought I would share what I did this year. It’s not what happens every year but this year it did. And I must say it is helping with my Christmas spirit – that is usually hidden beneath layer upon layer of stress and depression. Most people who might look in the window at Christmas time would probably assume I am a Scrooge. Most years there are so few Christmas decorations out because it’s just too exhausting to decorate. Honestly, you would have had to look really hard through that window to find a decoration beyond a tree. But this year was just a little different. Certain factors played into that. But I took advantage of those factors and ran with it.
If you have been keeping up with my blog then you know that this season means something extra special to us this year. Last year we were extremely concerned about my Dad’s health. We were making emergency trips to Ohio on a regular basis – mostly straight to a hospital ICU. Well this year things are completely different. My dad is beyond the scare and cancer and that gave me a reason to be thankful and focus on thankfulness instead of my own physical struggles. When you come close to losing someone you love so many times and they pull through it all and come out the other side it changes your life and your focus.
I usually spend Thanksgiving working on Christmas cards. Before this year I didn’t really rush to get them out in the mail after spending the weekend working on them. But this year it seems that, being in Ohio and celebrating with my family, lit a fire under me and I was able to get them in the mail on Monday after Thanksgiving. What a surprise! That was kind of the catalyst to my change in spirit about Christmas. I’ve been in a long Fibro flare up that happened after my Dad was in the “clear” zone with his cancer. It seemed that after I spent time with him at Thanksgiving and saw how amazing he was doing my flare eased up so much that I have been able to get out of bed and back into my life again. This experience makes me give serious thought to how our mental state affects our physical health. But that is for another post.
After dropping those Christmas cards in the mailbox, I decided this year I was going to decorate with the whole shibang. Now obviously just because my flare was “over” didn’t mean I was all better. I decided I would take as much time as I needed to complete the decorating process. And since I chose to start the week after Thanksgiving I had plenty of time to pace myself. I decided I was WONDER WOMAN and could get the Christmas decorations out of the closet by myself. BAD START! I got 3 boxes out and then was relegated back to bed for the rest of that day and the next. Lesson learned – WONDER WOMAN I AM NOT! Ok, I backed it up a little and changed my plan. Let the men drag the boxes out of the closet. SMART GIRL! Then I spent the next couple of weeks getting a few decorations out each day and setting them out – then sitting down to rest for a while. It’s taken a long time to decorate this way. But I’ve adjusted as I go and gotten everything out. I pretty much finished sitting out what I wanted for this year yesterday. I’m not happy with everything is sitting but when we put up the Christmas tree tomorrow I figure I will let Ron and the kids rearrange things.
Now just a quick note about holidays and depression here. Because depression is so much more debilitating for me my only tip for making it through the holidays with depression is to keep yourself well medicated. That’s what I do. When I find something else that works better I’ll let ya know! Until then my Christmas survival package includes my favorite Christmas music, my Bath & Body Works “Smell of Christmas” wallflowers and my bottle of Xanax. It makes for a happier Christmas for all of us.
So, what have I learned about how to make it through the holidays? Slow and steady (and a bottle of Xanax) wins the race…..and keeps you out of bed. Just like any other day with Fibro.