Holiday Craze

As the holidays have geared up, I notice how increasingly difficult it has been to find time for myself, such as sitting down and writing my blog. It has even been difficult to make space for myself to merely think about what I might want to write. Stepping away from my to-do list for just a moment, I become aware of the effects of the holiday craze. I think about how tired I am and I think about how tiring the holidays can be for people who live with chronic physical illnesses.

Every holiday season I am struck by how people assume the holidays are a time of joy for all. Ideally it is such a time, but realistically the holidays can be a time of much sadness. For some people, the holidays can highlight family/relationship difficulties, a time of loss or an anniversary of loss, and for many people who live with illness it can be an additional reminder of the limitations imposed by their particular illness. Perhaps one's symptoms make it difficult to attend holiday parties. One may frequently be asked by his/her peers why s/he was absent from the party. Similarly, due to certain medications or treatments, a person may be unable to consume alcohol or to eat specific foods at such holiday gatherings. Unknowing others, who likely mean no intentional harm, may tease the person with the illness about their choice to abstain from these mainstream treats. Such questions and comments can follow with the person living with the illness to be constantly confronted with the impact of their illness, and can contribute to a feeling of "missing out" or loss of something once attainable. Additionally, the person living with illness may experience the need to continuously explain why s/he may not be able to attend certain events, why s/he has to leave an event early, why s/he cannot drink/eat certain things, or why s/he is not particularly overjoyed by the holiday season. This makes it especially difficult to, even for a small moment, forget about the illness and to just be...whatever one may want to be in that moment.

Society sells an idea of the holidays as a time of fantasy, joy, spontaneity...almost a pause from daily life if you will. However, for those living with chronic illness, holidays can at times be a period when people may be thrust into the difficulties of their reality even more so than other moments during the year. For many people with chronic illness, it can often be such as struggle to forget about the illness and to just be. However, there can be little moments, minutes or even seconds when one puts the illness and its impact aside and just experiences the now.

I'd like to share with you all a youtube clip I recently came across. In the clip, the beauty of a second of forgetting about the illness is captured. Clearly this is NOT meant to imply that such moments make everything better or negate any pain and suffering created by the illness, but it highlights the reality that there are still some things that the illness cannot take away. Perhaps during this holiday craze you can find such moments, despite the constant reminders of your limitations, despite any feelings of loss or sadness... despite your illness.Even if it is for just a second, it is YOUR second. Live it! Own it!